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Girsanov

Should I be worried about others stealing my game concepts?

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Girsanov    136
I am learning how to develop a browser based multiplayer game. Although it is a small hobby project catering to 30-50 people in my gaming social circle, it took me about a year of design and playtesting to come up with the current version of the game. One fear that I have about putting my game on the net is that someone might take my idea and produce a clone. Is this a sensible concern? Or pointless worrying?

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MichaelT    214
No, almost any game is made in similar or identical fashion somewhere else. Sometimes you won't find out much later, or when someone tells you. I have done smaller games that others made later, some were quite successful on iPhone. Am I upset or sad about it? No, it just means the idea works. You only have to do it better.

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ozak    155
Usually no. Seeing your idea is one thing. Making a similar product requires a lot of time and effort. And you already have a head start.
Also, if you're not really going to make any money from it there's absolutely no point in worrying about it.

And what MichaelT said :)

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Girsanov    136
Its just a hobby right now but I would be lying if I never hoped it will become a commercial success later. Even though I have a "head start", I am just a beginning game programmer. It will probably take like 10 years for me to gain enough skill and do enough work to come out with a small, limited commercial release. Some small firm can easily take my idea and produce something in a year (or so I fear).

I am even considering putting out other lesser creations for practice while working on the "game with the neat concept" in secret! But the lack of motivation to work on temporary "dummy" projects and missing out the chance to publicly playtest the actual game I care about is putting me off.

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Tom Sloper    16062
Quote:
Original post by Girsanov
1. One fear that I have about putting my game on the net is that someone might take my idea and produce a clone.
Is this a sensible concern? Or pointless worrying?

2. I am even considering putting out other lesser creations for practice while working on the "game with the neat concept" in secret!

3. But the lack of motivation to work on temporary "dummy" projects and missing out the chance to publicly playtest the actual game I care about is putting me off.

4. Should I be worried about others stealing my game concepts?

1. It's not a sensible concern. It is pointless worrying. BTW, you never said what's wrong with being flattered by being copied...?
2. Sure, you can do that.
3. Well, then that's the problem with doing that. But you do need "the practice," right? Just keep reminding yourself that you're learning so that when you get to your dream project, it'll go more smoothly.
4. No, but you should copyright your work. BTW, you asked a question that involves IP protection, which is a question of law, so this post is now moved to The Business & Law forum, where you'll get legal eagles' replies.

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kdog77    229
In the US, copyright protection vests with the author upon creation of the work. Copyright protects any original expression fixed in a tangible medium. This includes games distributed on the internet. Copyright however does not protect the "idea" of your game. Cloning and outright piracy are big issues on all platforms and you can find articles on this forum and elsewhere discussing those issues in detail. There are legal remedies available to copyright holders to combat these issues indluding DMCA takedown notices and copyright infringement suits, but legal remedies generally require payment of lawyers fees to adequately protect your IP which in my experience many indie developers avoid like the plague.

So what can you do if you are not certain you want to distribute the game on the internet? Limit distribution to your friends with password keys, give them CD copies and keep track of who has access to the game. The question then is will anyone try your game and recognize your genius? The answer is probably not, because you have put up a physical barrier that so people will not appreciate. But you will have protected the ultimate game idea from your imaginary foes hounding you on the internet to get rich on your undiscovered genius. Good luck!

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monalaw    1367
Weee another clone question.

1. It depends on what, exactly, you're worried about as far as being ripped off. If you're worried about the novel and non-obvious mechanics and processes of your game, you would need to patent those mechanics and processes to be entitled to any kind of legal protection. If your concerned about someone stealing the "look and feel" of your game, you would have to rely mostly on copyright and trademark/unfair competition law. These laws protect the distinct elements that make up the "look and feel" of a game.

2. If your concerned about people taking your idea when you are not in a position to commercially exploit that idea, your best and only legal defense is to not share that idea. If you DO share that idea based on some kind of limited release to your friends/gaming circle, include an EULA that contains a non-disclosure agreement that clearly encompasses the game's concept and original elements.

3. You seem to be other two possible misapprehensions:
a) that you are the first to ever come up with the "idea" in question; and
b) that you will not come up with anything better as you gain experience and your techniques improve.

It is unlikely that (a) is true; this is why studios rarely accept unsolicited material unless it's submitted by an attorney or agent. A studio may literally have hundreds of "ideas" filed away for potential development. They do not want to risk being sued by someone who submits an idea that resembles something already in the works.

I sincerely hope that (b) is not true. If you hit your creative peak before you've even fledged as a developer or even know what you're capable of, there is little hope for you.

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