Game Dev Tycoon reviewed: Less “indie innovation”, more “Zynga appropriation”

Game Dev Tycoon

By on May 8, 2013 at 2:10 pm

Greenheart Games’ debut title Game Dev Tycoon has received a lot of press lately, primarily for their inventive and undeniably ironic cracked release where piracy ends up bankrupting your fledgling game start-up. The company, started by brothers Patrick and Daniel Klug has set out with a mission to “develop games that are fun to play instead of mind-numbing money-grabbers”. An honourable endeavour – but how does the actual game fare?

Greenheart’s motto is: “Less social, less ville, more game.” How deftly ironic that the art style looks lifted from the pages of Farmville itself. The same greyed pastel faces on the same size avatars, with the same stiff character animation delivered on the same uninspired isometric maps. It seems in their rush to distance themselves from Zynga, they have come full circle and made their style exactly the same.

The similarities to Zynga don’t cease there. It seems, too, that they have accidentally copied their business strategy of cloning other, more successful games and passing them off as their own. Because as I played through the game I noticed a distinct wave of nostalgia for a game I played three years earlier — Game Dev Story, by Japanese firm Kairosoft.

You see, in the original Game Dev Story, you hire staff with varying ability in design and programming, before setting them to work on building a game. It’s different in the recent Game Dev Tycoon, where you hire staff with varying ability in design and programming, before setting them to work on building a game. Wait… did I just repeat myself?

Okay, well in Kairosoft’s game, you accrue research points to unlock different game genres and train your employees, with the occasional boosts to productivity which – watch out – could also generate more bugs. Whereas in Greenheart’s game, you accrue research points to… and boost… hmm, you do the exact same thing, I guess.

At least the cute naming conventions are original, right? The Sonny Playsystem? Ninvento Game Sphere? Hilarious. But not for a second their own concept.

Game Dev Tycoon does a thorough job of gutting the far more charming, far more original Game Dev Story – hanging the husk of its predecessor in exactly the same fashion as the alien from Men in Black wore the skin of that dead farmer. There is a line where a game is no longer inspired by, and in fact, a carbon copy of its predecessor. Game Dev Tycoon crossed that line, marked it as its own, and then had the cheek to scold people for pirating it.

Indie game development is afforded much more innovation than its commercial counterpart, and  it’s a crying shame to see one company cannibalise another’s creative endeavours. Poorly made knock-offs at least have the good graces to be cheaper than their legitimate counterpart — but with Game Dev Tycoon running a cost of $10, and the original game asking but $3 — I struggle to find even one point of difference in this rip-offs favour.

It’s best to leave the game to rate itself.

Good:

  • Some plagiarised elements still maintain shreds of fun

Bad:

  • Art is uninspired, regurgitated Zynga fare
  • Trite, watered down and diluted gameplay
  • Lame shoutouts to game development celebrities
  • Game Dev Tycoon is bad and the developers should feel bad

Game Dev Tycoon is available on the developer’s website for $7.99. Game Dev Story is available on the Android and iTunes stores for $2.99.

The reviewer purchased both copies at their own expense.

94 comments (Leave your own)

Not to self, don’t buy.

 

I bought it on a whim, played it for a few hours and actually had a good time as a throwaway game – haven’t gone back to it but I don’t regret my purchase.

 

I’m surprised the gon staff were happy to put this review up. It just seems like an outright bash article and not so much a review. I’m still in the dark as to what the gameplay is like in either games that the article mentions.

 

Shame you can’t by the original version (with English) on PC atm

 

alek:
I’m surprised the gon staff were happy to put this review up. It just seems like an outright bash article and not so much a review. I’m still in the dark as to what the gameplay is like in either games that the article mentions.

They do seem to pass us alot of this rubbish recently.

 

elliotengi: They do seem to pass us alot of this rubbish recently

Tell me more

 

Well if a game is a blatant ripoff of another game, I would hope a review would tell me this.

 

You seem to have review in the title but all I can see is someone who misunderstood the aim of Greenheart’s article and seems to have used that to vent completely unnecessarily about unrelated matters. I have spoken to the authors of GDT and the main thrust of their blog post was the ironic nature of the pirates complaining that they couldn’t run a successful business due to piracy. Way to miss the point.

Yes, the game is a clone of a game by another developer. So are 80% of the games on the market today. That is not basis for a poor review. Certainly a comparison can be made between the two games but you haven’t even bothered to do that.

Yes, the art style is similar to titles by other developers. Fair enough – mention it as a talking point in the article. Again hardly a reason to slam a game.

Perhaps a new article with an actual review of the title with comparisons to the previous title. And less bile…much less bile.

 

ottomatic:
Well if a game is a blatant ripoff of another game, I would hope a review would tell me this.

Seconded.

 

I don’t know what game GON played, and admittedly I never played Game Dev Story, but I played and quite enjoyed this game title. Looking at that Good/Bad thing is just cringe-worthy. “Game Dev Tycoon is bad and the developers should feel bad”. Just what sort of comment is that? The author review should go back to 4chan where they’d find that sort of tripe funny. I rate this review -1 out of 10, hang your head in shame.

 
 

so this isn’t made by the game dev story guys? wow

 

What would have been hilarious is if this reviewer complained about his finances not balancing due to piracy.

But I’m easily amused.

 
greenheartgames

It’s incredible how many mistakes this article contains. I’m surprised you spelled our name right. Let me help you a bit. Firstly, we always said that we were inspired by GDS. Read our website or read early interviews (http://goo.gl/StFXQ). Secondly, Game Dev Tycoon is our own creation. We didn’t copy or rip-off anything. Is the setting the same? Yes. Does the game look similar when looking at a trailer or glancing at screenshots? Yes. Does the game work the same? Absolutely not. From the way the player progresses, to the way the player makes the games and the way these games are reviewed, things work entirely differently. Even the Bug mechanics work differently but you are apparently unable to see beyond cosmetics. There are also a ton of features that are not in GDS but I guess you didn’t care to see them. The audacity to compare us to Zynga is incredible. Clearly you didn’t do any research into the actual gameplay and I wonder where the facts underlying your ‘watered-down-gameplay’ accusations are. Many GDS players who have played our game like our concepts and new directions. It’s depressing that, when it comes to a niche product, suddenly game developers are not allowed to be inspired by an existing idea and push it further without being shouted at and harassed.

Oh, and our price is 7.99USD – you could at least get that right.

Patrick

 

Oh this should be good, Not everyone has to like your game though.

 

greenheartgames:
It’s incredible how many mistakes this article contains. I’m surprised you spelled our name right. Let me help you a bit. Firstly, we always said that we were inspired by GDS. Read our website or read early interviews (http://goo.gl/StFXQ). Secondly, Game Dev Tycoon is our own creation. We didn’t copy or rip-off anything. Is the setting the same? Yes. Does the game look similar? Yes. Does the game work the same? Absolutely not. From the way the player progresses, to the way the player makes the games and the way these games are reviewed, things work entirely differently. Even the Bug mechanics work differently but you are apparently unable to see beyond cosmetics. There are also a ton of features that are not in GDS but I guess you didn’t care to see them. The audacity to compare us to Zynga is incredible. Clearly you didn’t do any research into the actual gameplay and I wonder where the facts underlying your ‘watered-down-gameplay’ accusations are. Many GDS players who have played our game like our concepts and new directions. It’s depressing that, when it comes to a niche product, suddenly game developers are not allowed to be inspired by an existing idea and push it further without being shouted at and harassed.

Oh, and our price is 7.99USD – you could at least get that right.

Patrick

Hear hear!

 

greenheartgames: Oh, and our price is 7.99USD – you could at least get that right.

Hello,

Ian is from New Zealand, where the price is $9.99 NZD, so his assertion is correct.

I have changed this to read $7.99 though, to reflect the AU price for the majority of our audience.

 

greenheartgames,

so much of a direct copy its disgusting

 

Well this escalated quite quickly.

I agree the review is a quite light on actual description of gameplay and heavy on comparison to a previous title with the inference that it was pretty much a direct copy badly done. It would of been nice to see a more indepth look at it and why the reviewer thinks it is badly done, the review is very short.

As it stands the review has told me little about the actual game and a lot about what the reviewer thinks of the games inspirations. I guess, to me, it reads as an editorial opinion rather than a traditional game review, then again aren’t all reviews simply opinions? Not all are agreeable, accurate or inline with our own gaming tastes.

 
greenheartgames

Tim Colwill,

while you are correcting can you correct the link ‘developer’s website’ to point actually to our website? http://www.greenheartgames.com

 
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