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How Estonian Mobile Game Publisher Creative Mobile Responded to Cloning

Mobile game cloning

Creative Mobile always saw game cloning as something that comes with the territory.

In fact, when the Estonian-based mobile game developer released their 2D game Drag Racing in 2013, Creative Mobile’s CEO Vladimir Funkitov was expecting to see copycats of the racer. What he wasn’t expecting was that a 3D rendered copycat of their game would become a runaway hit.

“[They] basically used the same core loop, the same controls, the same metagame, pretty much everything down to the way cars were ranked and some actual lines from the game,” Funkitov says.

At the time, Creative’s 2D Drag Racing had accumulated over 70 million downloads in its first year and more than $500,000 per month with in-app purchases. Still, the clone was heavily featured by Apple and earned worldwide acclaim for originality. That hurt more than the numbers.

“I can’t say there was any direct immediate damage to our revenues,” Funkitov says. “The thing that really hurt was seeing the media going crazy and people saying, ‘Look, these guys just created a new genre—the core loop is so amazing, the metagame, the way they call it a collectible car game is so perfect.'”

Creative Mobile Drag Racing game

Image via Creative Mobile

The then three person studio was forced to swallow its pride and, instead of walking away defeated, decided to get back on the proverbial horse and create an even better game in the racing genre because the vertical was obviously popular among mobile gamers.

“We sat down and said, ‘Looks like there’s a market for a high-end drag racing game,'” Funktiov says. “So we set out to create the ultimate product in that category. Most companies would say, ‘These guys are making so much more money than we’re making, they have great ties to the platform, fantastic product, their team is 10 times bigger, they have so much more talent—let’s just move to another genre, or shut up, show up and cash out,’ but we knew we could do something better, so we did.”

Creative Mobile Fetty Wap: Nitro Nation Stories game

Image via Creative Mobile

The team at Creative Mobile hired more engineers and released Nitro Nation Online globally in May 2015. To date, the game has been downloaded 25 million times on Android and iOS combined. Most recently, Creative Mobile in collaboration with Moor Games embraced the power of a celebrity-led mobile game, with the launch of Fetty Wap Nitro Nation Stories in May 2016.

How’s that for redemption?

Have you had a game cloned? How did you respond? Tell us in the comments section below.