From time to time developers come up with an idea so brilliant, that it becomes a commercial success, and then it starts to be copied by others. And there’s nothing surprising about it – it smells like easy money, so some people are trying to get a piece of cake for themselves. For the creators of the original production, however, it’s simply a sign that they did an amazing job.
Now, let’s find out some of the most cloned video games and franchises – check out our list down below. Keep in mind that in case of entire franchises we picked just one game, usually the most recent one.
Most Cloned Games
When Notch created Minecraft, he probably had no idea how popular his game will become in the future.
In fact, it’s popular to the point where we have tons of game-related merchandise available to buy around the world, such us cups, shirts, and plush toys. No wonder that people started to copy the original idea, spitting lots of minecraft clones and flooding the market with games that look oddly similar.
Grand Theft Auto
|Latest release:||GTA V (2013)|
Grand Theft Auto series started as a 2D video game back in 1997 and it significantly changed since then, although certain core elements remain more or less the same. Every GTA game allowed players to explore vast open-world cities on foot or with use of many available vehicles.
The world in Grand Theft Auto was always alive with people driving their cars and pedestrians walking by, minding their own business. The idea was always received surprisingly well, and so tons of GTA wannabe games emerged.
|Latest release:||Diablo III (2012)|
|Genre:||Action Role-Playing, Hack and Slash|
Diablo series is so widely popular and successful, that it’s almost impossible to try not to compare any hack and slash game to Diablo, or at least its certain parts or gameplay mechanics.
One can’t argue that it was Diablo that popularized the entire hack and slash genre – it did such an amazing job and created so many innovative and flawlessly working solutions, that most if not all new hack and slash games are still implementing them, even today. Randomized item stats, character classes and skills trees, randomly generated world, unique item farming, you name it.
PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG)
PUBG is a game responsible for popularizing the battle royale genre – these are games, where you are thrown together with other players on an island or other similar type of arena. You start with nothing or a very basic equipment and you have to scavenge and loot nearby locations in order to find better items and get an advantage over the rest.
On your way to success you will have to eliminate other players and run away from the deadly barrier that shrinks the playable area, preventing players from camping the same spot for the entire match, and pushing them to confront each other. Simple, yet fun and addictive – it takes a lot of practice to win the game.
World of Warcraft
|Genre:||Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing|
This is probably the most popular Blizzard’s child, and also one of the most popular MMOs, despite its age, so it was always a lucrative target for those who profit from developing game clones.
There are a lot of MMOs out there, and it would be hard to find one that doesn’t copy something from WoW, but usually these games throw something unique to the mix, giving them their own spirit and flavor. You can try the original, if you didn’t already – the game is subscription-based, but it comes with a free trial.
|Latest release:||Mortal Kombat 11 (2019)|
Mortal Kombat is a fighting series that lets players engage in 1 vs. 1 or team combat. It started in 1992 as a 2D game – since then it received many visual upgrades, and the latest installment looks fantastic.
What made the series so popular is the fact that it allows players to perform brutal finishing moves, including cutting the opponent in half, tearing off his head, or ripping his still-beating heart, to name a few. Although such gore is rarely copied, there are a lot of games that could be easily called Mortal Kombat clones.
Defense of the Ancients (DotA)
|Developer:||Eul, Steve Feak, IceFrog|
|Genre:||Multiplayer Online Battle Arena|
Although not a game on its own, it’s worth being put on the list, as it influenced the entire generation of MOBA games. DotA started as a simple mod for Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos and its expansion pack, The Frozen Throne.
Players from the opposing teams are tasked with destroying the enemy core building while protecting their own. They can level up to become stronger and they are assisted by AI-controlled minions. What sounds like a simple idea gave birth to a lot of other popular MOBA games, including League of Legends and DotA 2.
Quake was always a good target for making clone games. It’s a fast-paced shooter that somewhat revolutionized the market and video game industry with its innovations and gameplay mechanics.
It was built upon previous games from the same development team, namely Wolfenstein 3D and Doom, and it further enhanced the gameplay to provide players with the most realistic-looking shooter available at that time. If you need to take a break from the latest games, then paying a visit to a good old Quake might be a good idea.
Dota Auto Chess
Similar story as it was with Defense of the Ancients – Dota Auto Chess was a modification for Dota 2 in which players had to compose the most powerful team and watch it fight against teams made by other players. The combat was fully automated, and players were only allowed to make adjustments between the short battles.
This included buying new heroes and increasing the power of currently owned ones. The mod quickly became viral and it was an inspiration for a lot of similar games to appear on the market, including Dota Underlords and Teamfight Tactics, effectively creating a new genre of auto battlers.
The Elder Scrolls
|Developer:||Bethesda Game Studios|
For the final entry on the list, we picked The Elder Scrolls series. Morrowind, Oblivion and Skyrim are known as one of the best and most popular video games in history. Todd Howard also made sure Skyrim can be played on almost every platform, from PC and Xbox to smart fridges and Alexa. You might wonder if people would be fed up with Skyrim by this point, but the number of clones or “successors” is quite big.
It’s not copied to the point of flooding the gaming market with crappy clones, mainly because of how complex these games are and it’s simply too much effort for most devs to care about copying it, but there are some companies that shamelessly borrow certain elements and implement them unchanged in their own games, resulting in a production somewhat similar to the original. And it’s not necessarily a bad thing – there’s a lot of room on the fantasy action RPG market.
Can a clone be better than the original?
Popular games are often cloned – a general rule of thumb says the more popular the game, the more people will try to copy it. It’s not really surprising, as we all know that popular games usually make a lot of money, so people try their best at copying the idea that already proved to work well in order to earn some easy cash. Why reinvent the wheel, when you can simply base your game on other people’s work?
Sometimes clones might turn out to be better than originals they were based on, but it’s rarely the case, and usually, it happens when the clone does improve certain mechanics in a meaningful way while adding a good chunk of new content – it needs to be different enough to be considered an entirely new and separate game without clear ties to the original. If it’s a simple copy-paste, then it’s destined to fail.
For example, there are a lot of Minecraft clones that are exactly that, copy-paste versions with no visible changes to the original, but there are also other clones that are made in a way that gives players an entirely new experience. The same goes for Grand Theft Auto clones and any others. If you know any other games that are cloned often – let us know. In the meantime, why don’t you give a try one of the titles listed above?