Copycat Games in Esports

by Garrett Klein
on October 18, 2017

We are all familiar with the phrase that imitation is the greatest form of flattery. If a product becomes successful to the masses, then we are not surprised when it is copied in some way.

Nowhere is this more blatantly demonstrated than in the shiny world of video games. Whenever something new is developed in these virtual worlds, many companies seem to follow the same trend.

Thus, you will come across many similar game concepts based on the era they were created. But the questions remain: When does imitation become straight up stealing?  Where should we draw the line? The courts remain the battlegrounds for the decision of where the line of imitation and stealing is located.


Lawyer time.

Only in the court system will we learn what the difference is between similarities and direct theft of intellectual property. If you are an esports bettor, it is important that you understand the issues surrounding copycat style games so that you can know how to protect your pocketbook best.

Trends Happen for a Reason

We are more likely to try what we know rather than trying something we do not quite understand, due simply to the fact we can relate to it. The bond we already have with an individual product makes us more comfortable with our purchase. This concept is used vigorously in the video game scene as well.

Innovation is great and all, but we cannot forget the goal for a business is to make a profit.

Reasons to Copy

Gaming companies assume that whatever is popular at the time is what people want. That way of thinking isn’t wrong since as a society we tend to be creatures of habit. It is safer to follow on the coattails of success than to create something unique.

When it comes to the mobile gaming market, this business model rings especially true. Mobile gaming is a quickly growing market that has exploded ever since smartphones and tablets have become standard.

Many game companies have attempted to capitalize on this rapidly expanding market that seems only to be gaining momentum.

Unique isn’t always received well in the public eye, and figuring out what works takes a lot of effort and money. Some companies decide to just take what they see becoming popular and tweak it slightly in order to release their own versions.

Companies did this since games that were popular in their region were not necessarily available to the global market. The result was that game titles would be released that capitalized on their rival’s successful product.

There would be no competition against this new game since the original was in a restrictive market. The problem with this tactic was that there were not enough changes to the games and lawsuits would come their way.

Success in the Market

Let’s look at a great example involving Tencent Limited Holdings and their game Honor of Kings.

Tencent owns the company Riot Games and the rights to the popular Multiplayer Online Battle Arena title, League of Legends. Tencent intended to replicate its success onto the mobile market platform.

Other MOBA style games have graced the mobile market, but this one was unique because it truly tried to adapt LoL fully rather than just releasing a subpar version. HoK used the full three-lane system that so many people are fond of within this genre and figured out an excellent control method.

The game used the screen of a smartphone or tablet to replicate a joystick and buttons to move your character as opposed to mouse clicks. You would be able to move with your left thumb and select different attacking abilities with your right.

The result was a rather accurate control of your character, and it gave viable reaction time making this game very well received in the market. Honor of Kings reported over 55 million people playing this game daily in China.

They were forced to release the title to a global market after being called “poison” and a “drug” in a state-owned newspaper in China. The title was released in Europe with the title Strike of Kings and has since changed to the title Arena of Valor.

The United States has yet to receive any such versions of the game due to a possible licensing agreement that Tencent has with Nintendo. Arena of Valor is expected to come to the Nintendo Switch, which means release to mobile devices on the U.S. market may be delayed or possibly never occur.

Rival Companies See an Opportunity

Clearly, other rival companies have the same faith in this game style as well, due to multiple titles supposedly ripping off HoK from the concept of multiple lanes to the controls.

However, there is a pocket to be filled in the global market. This is particularly the case in the U.S. due to the fact the HoK franchise has regional restrictions. There are ways that players in the United States can change their Virtual Private Network to fake their location in order to download these games, but that is a pain.

Instead, many players just download the copycat games rather than jumping through the hoops of VPN manipulation.  This is the exact marketing strategy that has worked for these rival companies and it’s what has raised their titles to success.

Tencent and Riot Games have not stood idle while their competition benefits from their hard work. Lawsuits have been filed against Shanghai Moon Technology due to copyright infringements. The infringement was with three of Moontoon’s games – Mobile Legends 5V5 MOBA, Mobile Legends: Bang Bang, and Magic Rush: Heroes.

Moontoon intends to fight the accusations that these games are a copy by any means. After all, different symbols and button placements are used. However, it doesn’t take an expert to see the similarities that these games have.

One cannot deny that the copycat games are bringing joy to the global market that Tencent has refused to accommodate with their regional restrictions. Moontoon is giving people what they want, and frankly, helping to develop their skills during the wait.

The risk of these titles getting shut down is all too real, so enjoy these games while you can. However, it appears that the fight has just begun. Moontoon, by all accounts, intends to fight against Riot Games in these lawsuits, and only time can tell what will occur with these game titles.

Wagering Impact

As an esports bettor, it is vital that you understand the background of professional players. Obviously, you know to check into their training regimen and practice schedules. What you should also check into is their gaming history.

If players have been playing copycat style games, they may possess advanced skills in games that may be regionally restricted in their area. Which teams have had access to certain games will come into play with who has favored odds.

Just because a team has the odds does not necessarily make them the best option to place a bet on. This is where individual player research will be critical before you place down those bets.

The Wrap Up

Adverse impacts that copycat games have on businesses is, of course, an issue when it comes to theft of the actual games. However, the consumer market is another story. It is then a risk to the user if the game is shut down because of a lawsuit.

Time and effort in growing characters can go to waste because of this. However, the actual skills they have acquired from playing will remain. This is the case when it comes to the esports scene when tackling a regionally restricted game.

The development of real-life skills is what matters rather than virtual growth. Players who utilize copycat games while awaiting the actual title to become available can increase their ability over the competition that simply waited.

Understanding the advantage that a player has can determine whether you come out a winner or if you just threw away money. Never forget to get your research accomplished before placing down a wager.

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