The Sad State of the Android Market..

Warning: this post is mostly a rant, with a bit exaggerated (but not much!) title to boot..

I've been meaning to write this one for a couple of months now, but never really found the time and actually got around to do it. So here goes. I started noticing a lot of games on the Android Market with familiar looking icons, and after closer inspection, it's clear that most of the graphics have been stolen from Jewels. I have not downloaded the games, but I would hazard a guess that the sounds are also taken from Jewels for most of these clones.

Do a quick search for "Jewels" on the Android Market. What do you find? I counted 8 (that's right, eight!) games that have graphics stolen from my game. Six (6) of those eight games have one of my Jewels graphics as icon image. One clone is the worst offender. It has stolen the graphics, the icon (yes, the actual Jewels-icon a couple of versions back) and get this… even the freaking app description is copied from my game! The best part — and the gist of this entire posting — the game is named Jewels.

Now let's be realistic: "jewels" is a common word. (All those eight games have the word in their title; most probably there other clones with stolen assets with other names.) It's not like I invented the word. But why on Earth does Android Market allow two apps (two games, both in the Casual-category) to share the exactly same name? Why? Especially when the copycat app clearly has stolen almost everything from the original app. I mean what the hell? Why couldn't they check for the app name and prevent duplicate named apps from the Market? I can see them allowing same named apps for different categories, but I don't understand the current policy at all. (Perhaps that other Jewels has some whitespace characters in its name, I don't know, but frankly I see no reason why names like "Jewels_", where _ is a space, should be allowed.)

The Market is also riddled with app spammers, developers (in the lowest possible meaning of the word) that pump out dozens of sub-standard apps and spam them in with different developer accounts. This is of course a whole different issue, and one that doesn't really matter to me, but it lowers the quality of the marketplace on the whole. I feel that Google should do some cleaning up on the Market, get rid of all the crap — and of the spammed apps using stolen assets (the most obvious cases, at least).

All this "steal assets from a popular game, and name it similarly" is of course to get a share of the attention those popular games receive. I guess I should be flattered that people bother to steal those graphics? :P Nevertheless, I'm sure that more popular apps have it worse than I do: look at all those wanna-be Angry Birds -games on the Market. Just sad…

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As you can see, I'm not thrilled with the Android Market as it is now, and I shall carefully consider whether to bring my future games to the platform at all. Apple has things far better on the App Store; the control is much tighter, but at least it keeps some of the crap out. And they don't allow two apps with the same name, something that became clear to me with iJewels. Not to mention I've come to like the iOS-platform much more than Android, but that's a different story..

This stealing assets thing is also one of the reasons why I still haven't (and never will, it seems) added the music from iJewels to the Android-Jewels. It would be stolen the instant I hit the big ol' Publish-button on the Market. :(