UPDATE: Please read our followup story Was 'Circle Pong' a Ketchapp Clone of Another Game? Signs Point to No as well.

Did Ketchapp outright steal a developer's game? That's what developer Matt Akins is claiming in a recent article. He claims that the game Circle Pong! [Free] is a clone of his unreleased game Rotable, which was submitted to Ketchapp late last year. Afterward, Circle Pong released, though not under Ketchapp. He claims that App Cow, which Circle Pong! is published under in the App Store, may be a shell company for Ketchapp, based on similar iconography, and that a company which publishes Ketchapp games to the Amazon Appstore published Circle Pong! under their label. It doesn't seem entirely definitive, but it doesn't paint a rosy picture.

Circle Pong vs. Circle

The thing is that Ketchapp has been accused of this sort of thing before, too. Zig Zag Boom [Free] developer Mudloop said that they sent a build to Ketchapp, who later released a game called ZigZag [Free] on to the App Store. Mudloop has proof that Ketchapp played the build they sent, and failed to say that they had a similar game in development. ZigZag and Zig Zag Boom are both very similar games with identical names!

So, the problem is that Ketchapp, even if this is all just a coincidence, doesn't really provide much reason to give them the benefit of the doubt. They have at least two occasions where someone has submitted a game, and then they released an almost-identical game. Plus, there's the whole 2048/Threes fiasco, which had Ketchapp publishing Gabriele Cirulli's game which was open source, not to mention a regression, if not simplified clone, of the recently-released Threes. So it's hard to see Ketchapp as a victim of coincidence when they keep happening into these circumstances. I think Raylan Givens put it at his profane best:

I've reached out to Ketchapp for comment and will update with any response they give.

Update: Ketchapp's Antoine Morcos responded to an email requesting comment, and said referring to the original Medium post that "Circle Pong is not our game, and all the information of this article are wrong... I don't know how a writer at Medium could seriously publish that without even verifying the sources."

There's another issue here that comes from the mixture of the popularity of simple game ideas and the ease of digital distribution. A very simple concept like Rotable can be independently created by others. Google "circular pong" and you'll find evidence of similar ideas going all the way back to 1999. So Rotable is not the most original idea. But still, stealing game concepts after seeing them is something that has landed publishers in trouble before. See, for example, the Yeti Town lawsuit that it copied Triple Town [Free] after discussions were to publish the game. So Ketchapp are at best acting in shady ways, releasing open-source games that copy others, and publishing games that are similar to ones they've evaluated – or they're outright thieves.

Update: Another accusation from the developer of Sheepop in regards to Ketchapp's Spring Ninja, and ironically both seem to be incredibly similar to Skipmore's Goat Jumper which predates all other versions by at least 6 months.

  • MirriamE

    The app store is rife with scams and ripoffs and shady practices. That's what makes it such an unappealing platform to develop for and why it's 99.999% garbage.

    • Goggles789

      Tough to find good games lately, but I must admit Wrassling is freaking badass and hysterical.

    • Everett Vinzant

      Really? 10 Billion in revenue and 1.2 million apps. You're saying that only 1,200 apps/games are carrying 10 BILLION in revenue? I think someone is BS.

      • collider

        That's not very far off... there are very few games making a large slice of the revenue. Totally different discussion though.

        Back on topic, Ketchapp are gigantic slime balls. Take a quick look at their list of apps... their entire business is based on stealing other's work. I know I'll get blasted for this, but they are the Samsung of the app world. Shameless.

      • EvanJO14

        If you get blasted I won't be the one doing it.

    • jgeirge

      I've said this before, and a very strict filter on game content should be Apples new policy! Why fight emulators when they should be fighting garbage apps! An Xbox or PS4 or even a steam type of AppStore arrangement would be very welcomed!!

      • Spore Productions

        And how should they define "garbage" so they can then enforce it? That's what ratings, reviews and featured apps are for.

        Should fans of Frogger denounce Crossy Road?

      • OrangeJews

        For starters, probably remove all the crappy Chinese games with unintelligible descriptions and a bunch of photoshopped screenshots.

      • indoguju

        Yeh right tell that to Google.. the play store has no human element to review games ...Regardless.. this article is a joke... Publishers do not make games..they publish them.. its a simple model. Also if such rules were in place we would still be playing doom and pong.. Innovation is key.

    • anabolicMike

      No. You've got your numbers wrong. It's maybe 95% garbage. Sure it's a pain in the ass but it pales in comparison to the hideous behemoth known as the demonic name "Google Play". That's so messed up I can't think of an adjective to describe it. Even Wendy's makes more sense!

  • aeranth

    Down with Ketch-App! Or, you know, at least comport with ethical business practices?

    • Spore Productions

      That's an Oxymoron.

  • The kernel

    ugh, this screams King and the Candy crusher drama all over again.

  • curtneedsaride

    Are people submitting apps to Ketchapp so Ketchapp will publish and market their games? I'd be leery of submitting my game to any company. I'd much rather try publishing and marketing my own work, if more reputable companies didn't bite.

    And, Ketchapp?! Really?? It's all in the name, even. They're just waiting for submissions so they can ketch 'em all.

    • Pyroknight

      Its a bit hard to get your game noticed without a known company behind it, which is why I'm guessing they would let Ketchapp publish it

      • curtneedsaride

        Makes sense. Hopefully, people will stop submitting games to them since they've continually pulled this crap.

    • Zero Ehxe

      Potential customers might not insta-buy my game since I'm a nobody, but if I have it published under a known name like Chillingo or Rovio it would have more credibility. There is a reasonable purpose but it does come with risk.

      • curtneedsaride

        Oh, I'd totally allow Chillingo or Rovio to publish my game too. But if you're going with Ketchapp, I'd imagine none of the reputable bigger publishers wanted it. So, I'd be wary of a smaller company, because how much help can a smaller company really do... as opposed to how much hurt they can inflict, you know?

      • Zero Ehxe

        I'm seeing a metaphor with someone representing them self against criminal charges, using a cheap attorney that they could actually afford, or blowing all their money on an expensive attorney and having nothing left by the end. It's like that with a lot of things in life, and hind sight lets us call people stupid when they were one or two out of maybe hundreds. I'm just speculating for the sake of conversational debate devil's advocate style of course.

    • Vish86

      Goodluck marketing your game .. Ketchapp and any other large publisher is the way to go.. App Cow is no way associated with App Cow. What a load of crap Touch Arcade. Publish articles after doing some easy research.

    • indoguju

      You are wrong on so many levels..Ketchapp doesnt steal games..they publish them.. Not sure what's so hard to understand. A developer makes a game if they like it they publish it.. Ketchapp is a way better option then releasing it on your own good luck with the extremely saturated market.. lol

      • curtneedsaride

        I'm a video producer, so I won't be submitting any apps to anyone any time soon. But, if Ketchapp is just a publisher (which is what my question was asking), then they could easily not recognize someone's game as a clone of another game, and inadvertantly publish said clone without having malicious intent. However, they are still responsible for putting that content out there. So, it doesn't matter whether people are stealing ideas or not in this case, because someone somewhere is stealing ideas. And being inspired by ideas or parodying ideas is much different than closely copying.

  • Rawk GWJ

    Burn the evil doers. Burn them with hot fire!

  • coolpepper43

    What's a good derogatory name for Ketchapp? Stealapp?

    • Zero Ehxe

      Since a ketch is a boat it already works. They sail away with your app and you'll never ketch them.

      • coolpepper43

        True, but I was thinking more of like an obvious diss. Like M$ or Crapple.

      • DeNappa

        Catchcrap?

    • dancj

      LeechApp?

    • indoguju

      Joke is they dont steal games..they publish other developers games.. jokes on you

  • falco

    Ketchapp games are boring with no story and no music + copy of others works. I wouldn't call it games.

    • Jake7905

      It's App Store trickle down economics.

  • Chiller ONE

    The plot thickens...

    • Vish86

      to bad its a fake plot

  • Jake7905

    The Justified clip says it all.

  • amusing Grace

    Hu? I thought this was settled few weeks ago in the game thread here.

  • coffiend39

    I played an HTML5 game like this years ago, except that there was a target in the center that gave you bonus points.

    Anyway, why submit a game to a developer that is known for stealing games?

  • DemoEvolved

    Way to go Eli, promoting the circle pong download in the article that questions and insinuates ketchapps biz practices. I might have expected you would link a game like threes in lieu

  • drlemon

    Remember when this happened with The Blocks Cometh?

  • Bari

    I thought I was the only one disgusted with Ketchapp!

  • https://twitter.com/imZoeSheen Zooey Sheen

    "So Ketchapp are at best acting in shady ways, releasing open-source games that copy others, and publishing games that are similar to ones they've evaluated – or they're outright thieves."
    This can be quite a serious accusation, however, if its true, that'll be quite a shame, cuz the game they publish always get recommended in the Apple Appstore, and that's why developers consider working with them too... agh..

  • vj171081

    I was worried about the same....as when I submitted my game I never got a confirmation email and never heard from them too....I have recently submitted my game to Apple.

    • unexpect3rd

      i too submitted a game to them, albeit my game was already live on the store. I submitted to them since their website said "If your game is already on the AppStore, please send us the link to download. ". They never did get back to me

      • Albin Hoti

        What's your apps name on the AppStore?

      • unexpect3rd

        That game is not important anymore.

        Search for Into the Winds - Zen Flowers! This game is more important now! I cant post a link here.

      • indoguju

        Ketchapp doesn't make games.. they publish them..not sure whats so hard to understand. Developers go to Ketchapp..

  • kendahlj

    I put ketchup on my Ketchapp

  • Vish86

    Ketchapp hasn't stole any of it's game ideas.. Other developers come to ketchapp and they distribute them under their umbrella.. Every game is a copy of another game in some way..