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Apple’s game certification needs a kick up the ass

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Apple’s iTunes is notorious for having mobile versions of games that are rip offs of other, more established titles – and I’m not talking about the sort of thing Gameloft does; taking the idea of  a game and then making their own remarkably similar game. I’m talking about the ones that are pretty much blatant theft – right down to stolen assets and whole chunks of gameplay.

One such example, is Armed Heroes for iOS – which bears more than a striking resemblance to Runic’s Torchlight. And Runic’s pissed.

“All of the monster assets and every dungeon tileset, as well as voices, and most sound effects, are direct rips from Torchlight,” said Runic boss Travis Baldree in a thread on Touch Arcade’s forums. “I didn’t see ANY monsters that weren’t ours.”

Speaking to PC gamer, Serena Zhang from EGLS – the Chinese company that made Armed Heroes- says there’s no theft here, folks.

“We can hardly agree with Mr. Travis Baldree who judged that EGLS ‘wholesale stole most of the assets from Torchlight!’ only based on the similarity between several small monsters,” she said coolly.. ”The judgment is simply untenable.”

Her attitude then changed to a defensive one – soon after though – saying that Torchlight itself ripped off a  game called Fate.

“In Fate, players are allowed to raise their own pets, cats or dogs, and equip them with 3 items. These pets can help players’ in-game characters fight, pick up and transport items. What is more awesome is you won’t lose them even if they run out of HP when they just wander around for a while and come back to fight for you later. If you feed them with fish, they can transform into various powerful monsters. In Torchlight, all the above elements are completely borrowed without any difference: cats and dogs, 3 available items, help in fight and pick up/transport items, feed them fish to transform them… Does everything sounds familiar? Then, does it mean that we can conclude that Torchlight blatantly ripped off Fate?”

Zhang seems to be unaware that Runic’s Travis Baldree actually designed Fate. Here are some comparison images from PC Gamer.


It’s not a dissimilar situation to the one faced by local game designers (and all-around nice guys) QCF DEsign, whose IGF award winning Desktop Dungeons was cloned. In that case, the offender didn’t steal art assets, but pretty much ripped the game design. It’s something that happens far too much on iTunes – and Apple’s certification team needs to do a better job.

Last Updated: July 18, 2012

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