Donut County is a game that has been in development for five years, and it will be releasing later this year on PC, Mac, and iOS. However, the game is already facing competition in the form of a copycat game called Hole.io on the iOS store.
Donut County is a game where the player controls a hole in the ground. As the player moves the hole around and makes things fall into it, it gets bigger and can get larger objects. The game also has some light puzzle elements in it as well as a lot of charm.
Yesterday, Ben Esposito, the maker of Donut County, who also worked on games like Tattletail and Anamanaguchi’s Capsule Silence XXIV, posted a tweet informing people about the clone:
hey all, i didn’t think it was possible but my upcoming game @donutcounty now has a cheap clone at the top of the app store lol. here’s more info.
— ben esposito (@torahhorse) June 25, 2018
The copycat game, Hole.io, is developed by Voodoo.io, which has also produced clones of other popular indie games. Among their library is Infinite Golf, a take on Desert Golfing, Twisty Road, which apes Impossible Road, and The Fish Master, a reskin of the Vlambeer game Ridiculous Fishing. Voodoo.io’s games were downloaded 300 million times in 2017, and expects one billion downloads in 2018. They also received a $200 million investment last May from Goldman Sachs, an American multinational investment bank and financial services company.
Vlambeer’s Rami Ismali spoke up about the frustrations of clone games:
Independent creators come from a place of passion, and nothing will destroy that passion like feeling like you’ve been taken advantage of—and nothing will kill the drive to be creative faster than seeing someone else treat it as a cynical cash-grab.
There isn’t much that can be done legally to deal with clones, but Ben is optimistic that his game will still win out in the end:
I think a game about a hole in the ground is interesting when the things you put it in are interesting. That’s why I spent so long making this game. I wanted to make a game where the world matters, what you put into the hole matters.
He does remark that the fact that the ability to take a game’s charm, turn it into a free game, and get the #1 spot on the iOS store is “discouraging.” Ben does snark about how easy it is to make such a game:
I looked on the Unity assets store and found exactly the Unity art asset pack they used. It’s $20. Anyone can download it and make their own version of Hole.io if they want. Just putting it out there.