Uproar over claims ustwo cloned indie darling J.S. Joust
London studio ustwo has elected to pull Papa Quash from the App Store amidst allegations the app is a clone of Die Gute Fabrik's Johan Sebastian Joust.
J.S. Joust is a game played without a screen, using only playstation move controllers and selections from the Brandenburg Concertos as feedback for players. The goal is to be the last man standing, with players being knocked out if they move their controller faster than the pace of the music dictates.
The result is a combination of finger-fencing and slow-motion kung-fu that has captured the imaginations of game developers and won multiple awards, including the innovation award at the 2012 GDCAs.
Papa Quash is a similar game played with iPhones in which players balance their phone and attempt to knock other players off balance.
When the game went live, twitter lit up in a furry of indignation, with many claiming the game was a deliberate clone of J.S. Joust.
Of particular interest was a quote in which ustwo co-founder Mills told PocketGamer.biz, "Fakes and copycats quite simply have to absolutely f**k off to another paradigm."
The Whale Tale developers make the game at the request of former Big Brother Contestant Sam Pepper, who claims he got permission from Die Gute Fabrik when he realized the similarities with their game.
"Wasn't ustwo's idea guys it was mine, they just built the app for me," said Pepper in response to criticism on Facebook.
"Basically I started dev on the game, someone mentioned joust, so I e-mailed joust with where I was at in my game and how it works and said is there going to be an issue. They said no, they encouraged me to make an app (my first game app) then I started my build."
Ustwo has been adamant they are not in favor of cloning, and are keen to point out that the concept was not their idea.
"It’s not an ustwo app," marketing director Steve Bittan told The Appside.
"Everyone in the studio said ‘It’s like a Johan Sebastian Joust, maybe have a chat with those guys before you go ahead. That’s what he did, they okayed it – we did some service work on it, and rolled it out that way.”
But when Die Gute Fabrik responded on twitter, saying "we have never and would never approve, give permission, or encourage anyone to clone of any of our games", some took this as positive denial of ustwo's claims.
"We encourage everyone to wait for our official statement before drawing conclusions about our position on recent events," said another tweet from the studio.
"In the meantime, we want to clarify that we have never requested another studio to pull any of its products."
But nonetheless, ustwo has decided to err on the side of caution, and has announced its decision to pull Papa Quash from the App Store.
"We are pulling the app ASAP,” said Bittan.
Die Gute Fabrik is expected to give their official response to the incident later tonight.