It's been a while since we've seen a flagrant rip off landing on the App Store. But yesterday we all got a bit excited because we thought that Cuphead, a gorgeous looking 2D shooter that has been wowing players on Xbox and Steam, had come out on iOS.
That wasn't the case though. It was an elaborate scam. The app was £4.99, and at first glance it looked legit. The developer was right, there was a website, and the screenshots certainly suggested that Cuphead had miraculously made its way to the App Store.
The game wasn't up for long though. The developers made it known it was by no-means an official port, and before the day was up it had been deleted from listings. If you spent any money on it, then I'm sorry. You got done. But it did raise a pretty big question, namely -
How in the world did this happen!?!
There are meant to be things in place to stop clones and copies making their way onto Apple's platform. It doesn't take a genius to realise that these systems didn't kick in like they were supposed to yesterday, but is there more to the story than that? A simple oversight that was quickly rectified?
Pong. An icon featuring Superman riding a motorbike. Real Top Speed Car Racing. The Battle Quest. Flappy Mole (seriously, what?). Cookie Mania Crush (and Juice Crush Splash 2, Jelly Cake Crush 3, and Jelly Candy Sweet Mania 3). Another icon for a sniper game that shows a bald assassin in a suit peering down a scope. Mortal Warrior. Football Manager Pro.
It took me ten minutes of scrolling through the App Store to find these games, all of which came out in the last couple of days. Sure, the Cuphead release might be a little more obvious, but this is a problem that runs throughout the entire App Store. To say that Apple's systems are working is to miss the point.
There's so much shovelware on the App Store sometimes it's hard to move for it. While there have been strides towards getting the best content out there and visible, that doesn't mean that the dodgy stuff has gone away. Sure, you probably won't get a virus from any of those releases, but in a variety of different ways they're obviously setting out to try and dupe players.
The mobile gaming world might not be the crapshoot that it used to be, but there's still an undercurrent of trashy, and downright dodgy, experiences out there. Cuphead was the tip of the iceberg, but this is a problem that runs far deeper than some people are willing to admit.
So what's to be done? Well, that's a tough one. Obviously there needs to be better vetting processes, but there also needs to be more common sense about what's allowed on the App Store. Sure, a quick glance at Cuphead might have seen it slip through the net, but is it any more flagrant to see games specifically designed to cash in on the success of others?