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Will the nature of the AppStore Kill Zynga’s cloning strategy

By on February 14, 2012
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On Facebook, no-one can hear you scream.

At least that is true of a cloned company. If Zynga, or anyone else, clones your game, there is little you can do about it within Facebook. When the primary distribution channels are cross-promotion and in-game virality, the fact that Zynga has cloned your title won’t be visible to anyone within the Facebook platform. As a player, you’d have to be reading around the subject to realise this game was a clone, and few Facebook gamers are that committed to their hobby. .

Not so on iOS. Check out the reviews of Dream Heights, Zynga’s clone of Tiny Tower, below:



Dream Heights has got a 1 star rating. Nearly every review says that this is a rip-off of Tiny Tower, and you should download that instead.

In the world of Facebook, there is no equivalent of the chart. There is no review recommendation. All that happens is that you see whether your friends are playing the game (which is of course a powerful recommendation in its own right).

On iOS, there are star ratings, reviews and the top charts. They provide a direct feedback loop for fans of Nimblebit (the developers of Tiny Tower) to express their displeasure.

Is Zynga about to learn that its aggressive, plagiarising tactics, honed on Facebook, won’t transfer to a platform where fans can give their feedback?

I think they are about to learn the importance of having a tribe, and the dangers of antagonising someone else’s.

About Nicholas Lovell

Nicholas is the founder of Gamesbrief, a blog dedicated to the business of games. It aims to be informative, authoritative and above all helpful to developers grappling with business strategy. He is the author of a growing list of books about making money in the games industry and other digital media, including How to Publish a Game and Design Rules for Free-to-Play Games, and Penguin-published title The Curve:
  • It’s quite funny to see the current contrast between the pages of 1-star written reviews that come before the first 5-star reviews when browsing the US App Store.

    The sad thing is that as of today, they have 11,000+ reviews on the US Store and 8750+ are 5-stars.
    Among the positive reviews, the graphic style was given as the main reason for preferring the game over Tiny Tower (not that there’s much else that differs…)

  • It’s actually free

  • Riolis

    No it won’t. Review means nothing in appstore. We’ve seen a lot of crap/spam app going to the top even with tons of 1 star rating. (Latest one was the Temple spam fest)

    0.99 is too low for people to care. If the name sounds familiar or the screenshot or icon looks familiar or nice, apple appstore customer would just throw .99 away regardless the review or whatever.

  • Don

    as of looking at it earlier today, it appears as if Zynga has enough fans, influence or power to get a 5 star rating. 

  • Sik


    I wonder how much the AppStore design itself has to do with it though. I mean, let’s say Facebook now switched to providing user reviews for games, would it change at all? Remember virality would still be the main method for users to learn about games on Facebook (even if Facebook actively added new ways to discover new games you still have the previous momentum).