There are already plenty of games on the App Store that have gained an audience by downright copying existing IPs, but while many of these apps display a total lack of creativity in terms of content, most of them at least do their best to properly rip off the original idea. Sure, Modern Combat might look an awful lot like Call of Duty, but at least you know what you’re getting.
The ad for Dragon City you see above commits a much more deplorable offense by not only preying on fans of an extremely popular franchise — in this case, Pokémon — but at the same time downright lying to gamers.
The Pokémon franchise debuted on Game Boy back in 1996, and since then it has become a juggernaut in the gaming space. The many games in the series have carried a very familiar look for the entirety of the franchise’s existence, and the battle segments in particular have an iconic and recognizable look. The following screenshot is taken from a Pokémon title that was released in 2004:
The similarities between the screenshot above and the Dragon City ad at the top of the page should be rather apparent. The problem is that the image from the Dragon City ad is completely fake. Here’s what the actual combat of Dragon City looks like:
So why would Dragon City — which purports to have over 10 million players — want to advertise itself with decidedly low-resolution art and a much less flashy aesthetic than that of the actual game? It’s a classic bait-and-switch: Dragon City developer Social Point wants to appear to have the iOS equivalent of an insanely popular Nintendo RPG franchise, when all Dragon City really offers is a microtransaction-driven FarmVille clone with fighting lizards.
I’m not going to dive super deep into the difference between the games, but suffice it to say that the Pokémon titles allow you to travel vast distances, meet characters, and follow a long and detailed plot, while Dragon City revolves around creating what amounts to a neighborhood for dragons. They have almost nothing in common.
It’s shenanigans like this that make it hard for customers to trust new app developers enough to give their games a shot. This upsets me, and if you enjoy finding new and original content on the App Store it should upset you, too.