Another of today's main Gamasutra features, on the second half of the Casual Games Summit at this year's Game Developers Conference in San Jose, CA, covered a variety of topics ranging from who holds the power, to game cloning, to the "soccer mom" demographic.
It included this particularly interesting section on game cloning:
"John Welch figures that the whole "intellectual property" system, as it currently exists, is out-of-date and needs to be revised from the ground up. He wants to get rid of the patent office entirely, and just put most of the focus on copyright. He spoke at length on the difference between playing a game and enjoying it, and then being inspired to do something of your own that was kind of like it, and running a game on a second monitor and painstakingly copying it, detail for detail, then introducing it to an audience who aren't familiar with the original work (as with games like Zuma and Snood). "Is cloning a big deal? Yeah, because it's against the law." Joel Brodie asked Welch what would happen if there weren't any laws; if this were the Wild West. "The Wild West?" Welch replied. "Then you take my s--t, I kick your ass."
Consensus eventually arrived that the best defense against cloning was in building a strong brand - which is something that "no one really does" online, as it's much harder to do than in other distribution channels. Lately, as casual games have been blurring over into places like retail bargain bins and supermarket checkout aisles, branding has become a little easier. Games like Bejeweled, Diner Dash, and Zuma, have a very broad brand awareness; if anyone copies them, to most people it's immediately obvious what's going on."
You can now read the full Gamasutra coverage on the matter
, including detailed information on this fascinating casual panel (no registration required, please feel free to link to this feature from external websites).