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When Blatant Clones Attack: Developer Clones Canabalt, Likely With Its Own Source Code [UPDATED]

Free Running is not only similar to Canabalt--it's a carbon-copy.

UPDATE: Free Running is no longer on the App Store, due to a request by Semi Secret. If it's still showing up for you, that won't last for very long. Adding insult to injury, not even the icon for Free Running was produced by PLD Soft; the art was stolen from "cliq" at Deviant Art.

--

No doubt, the team at Apple filtering the thousands of submissions to its App Store have their work cut out for them, but that doesn't make the instances where crap slips through the cracks any less infuriating. For example, Free Running showed up on the App Store today, looking suspiciously like Semi Secret Software's Canabalt, a game that basically kicked off the whole genre of touch-based running games.

Free Running doesn't just appear suspiciously like Canabalt, either--it looks and plays the same, too. Can you tell the difference between these two games? I captured both on my iPhone this afternoon.

One of these is Canabalt. The other is Free Running. Take your pick! 
What's different? The name, the intro graphic (the original recommended headphones, while Free Running simply has a stylized painting of a city), the connections to social networks to share high scores--and the proper attribution of anyone who worked on the original project and its iOS porting. Oh, that.

This is theft, and I won't dignify the act by linking to it, but who's behind it?

== TEASER == The publisher of Free Running is listed as PLD Soft, and it's not hard to imagine how the company pulled this off; back in December, Semi Secret Software made Canabalt open source. The success of Canabalt on iOS devices, plus a cool $25,000 the studio raised for charity, encouraged the decision.

 The official app icon for Free Running.
"Canabalt has been a crazy ride for us," said co-founder Adam Saltsman late last year. "It's helped keep the lights on and pay for our health insurance, and allowed us to take the kind of risks that indie devs love to take. But, in the spirit of the Humble Indie Bundle, the holidays, and a (likely) bout of temporary insanity, it's time to open our trenchcoat and show everybody what we've got going on under there!"

Going open source meant other developers could use their technology to care their own games, but there was just one catch: don't use anything specific to Canabalt, code, art, music--whatever.

It appears PLD Soft simply took what Semi Secret Software made available, changed a few pieces to avoid name confusion with the still-available Canabalt, compiled it and submitted to Apple. And then Apple gave the software approval to appear in its App Store. Right now, it's still available for $0.99.

"We're doing what we can to take care of it," said Semi Secret Software in a statement to me today.

Free Running's listing on the App Store goes above and beyond simply trying to profit off ignorance; the listing text is mostly copy-and-paste job from Canabalt's existing listing, press quotes and all.

"Free Running is pure genius." -necessarygames.com -- Free Running's listing
"Canabalt is pure genius." -necessarygames.com -- Canabalt's listing


This isn't the first time PLD Soft has encountered criticism for its submissions to the App Store, either. App Advice recently highlighted another PLD Soft creation, Flash Video Guide, as a scam. The description for Flash Video Guide was reportedly vague but appeared to promise support for Flash Video on iOS devices. No iOS devices natively support Flash in any capacity, a public stance by CEO Steve Jobs.

"Overall, we’re recommending that readers not buy Flash Video Guide," wrote App Advice back in March. "It appears as if this application is a scam – a blatant attempt to rip App Store users off. For this reason, we’re not listing it in our 'Mentioned Apps' section at the bottom of this article."

There's no way to contact PLD Soft, either. Nothing's listed on the App Store page for Free Running and the company has no other software currently available in the App Store. A Google search for PLD Soft, however, does turn up a Twitter account that has no description and has never been updated.

I purchased Free Running before running this article to directly compare the experience with Canabalt. I could delete either one and unless I was really checking, not notice the difference.

Fortunately, it appears most App Store customers are aware of Free Running's origins, as the reviews are incredibly vocal about the actual nature of the source material. Clones are not new to the App Store, which means stories like this will likely (hopefully) result in Apple quickly pulling the game down. Patrick Klepek on Google+
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Posted by patrickklepek
UPDATE: Free Running is no longer on the App Store, due to a request by Semi Secret. If it's still showing up for you, that won't last for very long. Adding insult to injury, not even the icon for Free Running was produced by PLD Soft; the art was stolen from "cliq" at Deviant Art.

--

No doubt, the team at Apple filtering the thousands of submissions to its App Store have their work cut out for them, but that doesn't make the instances where crap slips through the cracks any less infuriating. For example, Free Running showed up on the App Store today, looking suspiciously like Semi Secret Software's Canabalt, a game that basically kicked off the whole genre of touch-based running games.

Free Running doesn't just appear suspiciously like Canabalt, either--it looks and plays the same, too. Can you tell the difference between these two games? I captured both on my iPhone this afternoon.

One of these is Canabalt. The other is Free Running. Take your pick! 
What's different? The name, the intro graphic (the original recommended headphones, while Free Running simply has a stylized painting of a city), the connections to social networks to share high scores--and the proper attribution of anyone who worked on the original project and its iOS porting. Oh, that.

This is theft, and I won't dignify the act by linking to it, but who's behind it?

== TEASER == The publisher of Free Running is listed as PLD Soft, and it's not hard to imagine how the company pulled this off; back in December, Semi Secret Software made Canabalt open source. The success of Canabalt on iOS devices, plus a cool $25,000 the studio raised for charity, encouraged the decision.

 The official app icon for Free Running.
"Canabalt has been a crazy ride for us," said co-founder Adam Saltsman late last year. "It's helped keep the lights on and pay for our health insurance, and allowed us to take the kind of risks that indie devs love to take. But, in the spirit of the Humble Indie Bundle, the holidays, and a (likely) bout of temporary insanity, it's time to open our trenchcoat and show everybody what we've got going on under there!"

Going open source meant other developers could use their technology to care their own games, but there was just one catch: don't use anything specific to Canabalt, code, art, music--whatever.

It appears PLD Soft simply took what Semi Secret Software made available, changed a few pieces to avoid name confusion with the still-available Canabalt, compiled it and submitted to Apple. And then Apple gave the software approval to appear in its App Store. Right now, it's still available for $0.99.

"We're doing what we can to take care of it," said Semi Secret Software in a statement to me today.

Free Running's listing on the App Store goes above and beyond simply trying to profit off ignorance; the listing text is mostly copy-and-paste job from Canabalt's existing listing, press quotes and all.

"Free Running is pure genius." -necessarygames.com -- Free Running's listing
"Canabalt is pure genius." -necessarygames.com -- Canabalt's listing


This isn't the first time PLD Soft has encountered criticism for its submissions to the App Store, either. App Advice recently highlighted another PLD Soft creation, Flash Video Guide, as a scam. The description for Flash Video Guide was reportedly vague but appeared to promise support for Flash Video on iOS devices. No iOS devices natively support Flash in any capacity, a public stance by CEO Steve Jobs.

"Overall, we’re recommending that readers not buy Flash Video Guide," wrote App Advice back in March. "It appears as if this application is a scam – a blatant attempt to rip App Store users off. For this reason, we’re not listing it in our 'Mentioned Apps' section at the bottom of this article."

There's no way to contact PLD Soft, either. Nothing's listed on the App Store page for Free Running and the company has no other software currently available in the App Store. A Google search for PLD Soft, however, does turn up a Twitter account that has no description and has never been updated.

I purchased Free Running before running this article to directly compare the experience with Canabalt. I could delete either one and unless I was really checking, not notice the difference.

Fortunately, it appears most App Store customers are aware of Free Running's origins, as the reviews are incredibly vocal about the actual nature of the source material. Clones are not new to the App Store, which means stories like this will likely (hopefully) result in Apple quickly pulling the game down.
Staff
Edited by Xolare

Un-cool bro.

Posted by Doomshine

woah

Posted by BONK

HMMM

Posted by amorbis

Ooh, that's not good. I loved Canabalt.

Posted by Pickingwings

When will this end?

Posted by zombie2011

the one of the left is the original?

Posted by bucky

 I specifically remember this exact same thing happening with "The Blocks Cometh." Pretty shitty, especially when you consider that these are just some indie devs looking to make a couple bucks doing what they love. 

Posted by Hamst3r

That's pretty shitty of them.

Posted by DevWil

weakest. shit. ever.

Posted by crusader8463

It's totally different! Look at those windows!

Posted by c_rakestraw

Dang, that sucks. Hope it gets taken down.

Posted by Azteck

Wow. Fuck that developer.

Posted by Dante_the_Jedi

That is a dick move.

Posted by Zimbo

Extremely uncool bro.

Posted by Slaker117

Is it possible to be any more blatant? Even gamebomb is better than this.

Posted by Skald

Dude, fuck those guys.

Posted by MrMazz

thats some shadiness right there 

Posted by wefwefasdf

Same thing happened with Lugaru. Took Apple several weeks to take down the copy. 

Posted by bybeach

Just don't complain, get riid of it, apple or whoever. And if neccessary, exclude it from this country....
Posted by Metal_Mills

Pathetic. Gameloft wouldn't even do that. ...Maybe.

Posted by Scodiac

Canabalt is freakin' awesome. 


PLD soft needs to be shut down. These assholes have no respect. They're a bunch of no talent scam artists.  
Posted by CaptainComedy

The sparse good reviews for this drivel on the App Store are uniquely maddening and frustrating. Christ.

Posted by Mikemcn

Canabalt is awesome, screw you free running.

Posted by omgJOHN

The developer has two games up "Free Running" and "Free Runner". They are exactly the same game, and both have ridiculously large number of 5-star ratings for how long they've been up.

This seems very suspect.

Posted by AcciDante

I didn't know it was open source! D: Definitely looking at this tonight.

Posted by thehideousshrew

Dirty skeezy bastards!

Posted by MordeaniisChaos

Lets get our pitchforks and torches.

Posted by Underachiever007
@Pickingwings said:
" When will this end? "
Posted by transience

wow, that is fucking awful. you gave them like 15 cents, Patrick! demand it back!

Posted by Red

One would think that with Apple's incredibly annoying and restrictive approval process, we would at least get garbage like this out of the way.

Posted by Skald
@omgJOHN said:
" The developer has two games up "Free Running" and "Free Runner". They are exactly the same game, and both have ridiculously large number of 5-star ratings for how long they've been up.This seems very suspect. "
They already gamed the App Store once by submitting it, they might as well game it again by spamming five star reviews.
Posted by themartyr

Great story, Patrick.

Posted by AhmadMetallic
@Pickingwings said:
" When will this end? "
when will what end?
Posted by TurboMan

Anybody can see that the windows are a little bit wider on the Free Runners screenshot.


Case closed.
Posted by skrutop

Oh shit, I bought Free Running the other day.

Posted by I_smell

Clones fuckin suck.

And you'd think the obvious title for this article would be "Attack of the Clones", but hey whatever. I'm no journalist!

Posted by Tim_the_Corsair

What a bunch of dirty, thieving cunts. I hope there's a lawsuit in this.

Posted by Xeiphyer

All I want to know, is why did they change the fucking windows?! If you steal every other thing, why not the windows?!

WHAT IS THE SECRET OF THE WINDOWS?!?!?!?!

Posted by nintendoeats

Krazy Kong.

Cloning other people's games is as old as gaming itself. PONG was a freaking clone (Bushnell ripped off Baer... allegedly...)

People should not do this of course.

Posted by Xpgamer7

That sucks. Apple needs to track their IP so the Canabalt guys can sue em.

Posted by Xpgamer7

That sucks. Apple needs to track their IP so the Canabalt guys can sue em.    

Posted by MrKlorox

iPhone strikes again. For a game that's open source, it's pretty insulting there are no Android clones.

Posted by Hot_Karl

That's shady as hell...but maybe that means we'll finally get a fucking Canabalt clone over on the Android Marketplace?

Posted by louiedog
@Xpgamer7 said:
" That sucks. Apple needs to track their IP so the Canabalt guys can sue em.     "
Why should they track the dev's IP? Apple has a name and address.
Posted by Curufinwe

I don't care about iOS gaming but this is a very interesting story and more proof that Patrick is a great addition to Giant Bomb.

Posted by Enigma777

This is worse than MAXsplosion... 

Posted by Pop

it's good that they took it down, nobody buy PLD Soft stuff, I wonder if it's just one 12yr old kid changing some text on there.

Posted by Firelogic

Absolutely stupendous

Posted by Little_Socrates

I hope the cloners get banned from the App Store or something.

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