You all know Minecraft right? Indie game? Big hit internet sensation? The current darling of artsy game connoisseur types - a title previously held by the likes of Limbo (meh), Braid, and Portal?
|Alright, NOW we're getting pretentious.|
|This is your indie game on FortressCraft.|
This is bad for the gaming industry, developer and consumer alike.
Why? Well, Minecraft has been successful largely due to its unique business plan. It allow users to pay for a work in progress, on faith, in order to fund the completion of the project. It provides investors for a product which would otherwise never be made, and players don't have to wait for a finished product to enjoy its parts. It is, in theory, great. In a world where this were common practice, we all would have been playing Duke Nukem Forever for years, rather than anticipating it, "abandonware" would just be "unfinishedware," and more such software would actually have the funds to never go on hiatus in the first place.
|Maybe the original, abandoned version of Daikatana WOULD have. (Check the link to actually find out!)|
By extension, of course neither would FortressCraft. Without this business model, he would have never seen it, never had time to capitalize on the situation, and apparently never developed a interesting game concept of his own. Yet, he'll be the one to profit from the Xbox market. That might not seem like a huge deal, but one must recall that the vast majority of gamers aren't "in the know" enough to know all of this. This is especially true for the console market. Almost every sale of FortressCraft will be an individual who will no longer need to buy MineCraft. In other words, that's pay the designer should have gotten for his work that he now never will. It might not seem like a big deal, but for an indie developer that's a financial hit that's incredibly hard to take.
By doing such a project as FortressCraft, its designer has all but doomed all future chances of success for such business models. Even if it's a bomb, or never releases, its effects will be felt. You just can't risk the chance of some guy swooping in and aping your work at the last minute, making great profit for little investment. It doesn't promote "competition" because it denies Minecraft's team any opportunity to compete. Competition has a positive economic effects, unjust enrichment does not.
So, let's move beyond the subjective. We can argue all day over whether or not FotressCraft is a "clone" or represents copyright infringement. That's an extremely complex legal matter I'm not qualified to comment on. Let's focus on what this objectively means for gamers and designers.
-Designers: It has gotten that much harder to fund independent projects, and thus that much harder to create original and experimental products.
-Gamers: There are games - games you would have loved - that will now never exist.
And all for what? A minor financial flash in the pan for one man, a one hit wonder unlikely to be followed up by future creative success once he's wrung the creative juices out of someone else's work.
In short, if you're anyone other than the creator of FortressCraft, FortressCraft has hurt you.
(edit: Some text redacted for being unnecessarily personal and entirely based on my own presumptions)
(edit 2: I'd also like to add that, while this article is about a particular case, this isn't a new practice. Oh how creativity is rewarded in the industry we so often decry as bereft of original ideas.)