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How likely is a "tetris-like" game to be taken down on the play store?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by MD_Reptile, Apr 21, 2016.

  1. MD_Reptile

    MD_Reptile

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    Okay, first off, I know EA is pretty aggressive in taking down any tetris clones on the big markets of all platforms. I have seen games like Quantro (a very solid game! not exactly like tetris, but does use traditional "mino" shapes) and Yostris (very similar to tetris) have been taken down on there, and I imagine there are many more.

    So yeah, I made a "tetris-like" game, where you have block shapes falling from the top of a game grid, and must stack them, to get rows of blocks cleared, like tetris. However I thought it would be cool to use 5 blocks per "mino" rather than tetris's 4 blocks. I started brainstorming this idea and wrote down all possible shapes that could be created with 5 blocks (there are 18 of them) before I went on to notice a couple other games already tried this on other platforms (like 5tris) and so yeah it isn't a totally original idea in the fact that somebody else did it before... yada yada so on and so forth - I spent a couple days prototyping the game anyway and now it runs pretty well on my android, with drag controls to move left and right or down, and tap will spin the mino. I use a grid that is 14 "blocks" wide by 24 "blocks" tall, and the game ends when a block occupies a space in the very top row. So... not exactly like tetris, but similar yes...

    Before I go and crash and burn by uploading this to the play store - should I just not? I mean I don't want my app suspended, I don't wanna make EA mad, or any of that craziness. I think the game is fun, and offers a more difficult gameplay than the tetris that is actually on the store from EA. Obviously its original code, and art, without trying to copy the art style of tetris, and never refers to the words "tetris" or "mino" or anything else that might be a trademark.

    I might name it "VTris" - so does having 5 blocks for minos and a name with "tris" qualify as something they would probably take down? Assuming it gets played even a little, they will most likely notice it, and remove it... right? Do I just stop making it (whopping 2 days of work :p) and say forget it, to avoid possible problems? I like to emulate lots of games, and have made an "asteroids" style game (linked in sig) and even a "crossy-clone" because A) I enjoy making lots of different games to learn lots of new stuff and B) I think gameplay ideas are meant to be built upon and "riffed" off of, to allow new and interesting gameplay to emerge from things that have been tried and already work... some would call it cloning, I would call it... well yeah it is cloning but you get my point!

    Whatta'ya think? What would you do?
     
  2. Aiursrage2k

    Aiursrage2k

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    I dont know try it and see what happens if you got enough downloads where they will bother with at least youll make some ad money
     
  3. JamesLeeNZ

    JamesLeeNZ

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    If its even remotely popular, I suspect it will end up in the bin.
     
  4. MD_Reptile

    MD_Reptile

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    @Aiursrage2k - Well see I felt that way initially, but each app you have suspended on the play store, is like a "strike" against your account, potentially completely suspending your whole account if you get enough of them...

    So, should I be willing to waste a potential "strike" on my account, over some maybe-money? Do you think it seems like a situation they would go after? Different shaped "objects" (minos) on a different sized game board, with a name that isn't tetris... can they take me down you think?

    @JamesLeeNZ - I kinda feel like as unfair as that truly is, it may be true :X
     
  5. theANMATOR2b

    theANMATOR2b

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    Hey MD could you change up the appearance of the shapes so they aren't blocks? I've given this about 20 seconds of thought so I have no suggestions how to go about doing that - but I think if you visually distanced it from the falling blocks "Tetris" look maybe there's a better chance of it not being considered a Tetris clone.
    I'd also think about not relating the name to Tetris in any way.
     
  6. hippocoder

    hippocoder

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    If memory serves, the Tris part is copyrighted. So you'd need to call it 5 guys or something. Oh wait.
     
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  7. JamesLeeNZ

    JamesLeeNZ

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    If you know they are aggressive at takedown's, you know its probably true.

    If you released it and hardly got any downloads, I would be surprised if they noticed, but in saying that, Im not sure at what point they notice. For all we know, they have people specifically looking for any game that uses some form of their ip.

    I would avoid using words like tetris in the description if you want to fly under the radar... but tbh, Im not sure of the point in having a game out there you dont want to be popular.

    It could also lead to problems with your developer account as well. Dont want it to be banned for something like this
     
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  8. MD_Reptile

    MD_Reptile

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    @theANMATOR2b
    Hrmm... falling sphere shaped objects? Yes it certainly could be done. Here is a quick pic of the prototype:


    Hrmm good point! Sure is hard to describe this game in a catchy short word or two that doesn't include.... "tris" lmao... we all know what having that in the name means, so I guess I see why it might get me in trouble...

    You know, I don't really expect something I made in two days to exactly "take off" in the store, haha, but I would like it to at least not be hurting me down the road. I'll have to dig deeper into what makes something a target to them I suppose.
     
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2016
  9. theANMATOR2b

    theANMATOR2b

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    Hmm :)
    Maybe each shape could be a differently shaped snake or worm, or even better (beyond my knowledge) each shape is a type of molecule or something nano - when they form the complete lines at the bottom - they energize something - add points for the player. Just something a little different - still keeping the backend tetris - but covering it with some visually dissimilar 'blocks'.
     
  10. MD_Reptile

    MD_Reptile

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    I was reading here: https://desiree47.wordpress.com/2008/12/07/tetris-and-intellectual-property-rights-trademark/

    and here: https://www.quora.com/Is-Tetris-protected-intellectual-property

    and from what I gather, I shouldn't use "TETR" at all anywhere... or "TETRIS"... and because of the obvious link there, not "ANYTHINGtris" by default.

    While I can't find a specific trademark or anything over "tris" I figure better safe than sorry.

    The first article recommends a name like "Falling Blocks"... well hrmm... iFallingBlocks?... Falling 5 Blocks?... meh... nothing easy to remember and that is short like "VTris"....

    I then ran into this page: http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2010/06/google-blocks-tetris-clones-from-android-market/

    Crap. I dunno - maybe I'd be better off not even trying :p
     
  11. JamesLeeNZ

    JamesLeeNZ

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    blocklock

    or if you're a sucker for flappy stuff

    blocky locky
     
  12. JamesLeeNZ

    JamesLeeNZ

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    after reading that last article, not sure I would bother!
     
  13. MD_Reptile

    MD_Reptile

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    Awwww dang if I didn't come up with a good title! Falling five! Gah.
     
  14. Kiwasi

    Kiwasi

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    From a legal perspective you can't copyright game mechanics. Any patent that exists on the game will be long expired. The app stores are so full of endless clones that you could probably bring a suit against Apple if they removed a game just based on having similar mechanics to an existing game.

    You can't use the Tetris name or any derivative of it. That will still be covered by trade mark regulations.
     
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  15. MD_Reptile

    MD_Reptile

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    Well, I see a frequent use of blocky "mino" looking shapes in tons of popular "block puzzle" style games (those ones that you form lines vertically as well, and just drop the pieces anywhere on the board until you run out of space) that are sometimes exactly like those used in tetris, so obviously they can't target just the shapes themselves (mind you - I don't use the original tetris shapes). If I called it "Falling Five" I can't see any issue with regards to the title. If I don't refer to a "mino" or anything, I don't suppose it could be all that bad... hrmm...

    Then again another side of me says screw all the legal tippy-toe'ing and just work on a different project without the added stress, lmao...
     
  16. Kiwasi

    Kiwasi

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    I feel you there. I dropped my pacman derivative for the same reason. I'm pretty sure I would have been in the clear. But I wasn't in love with the concept to the point I had to develop it. And I wasn't overly keen on a fight if it came to it.
     
  17. tedthebug

    tedthebug

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    I actually emailed them as I want to use tetrominoes in a board game & the advice I'd gotten here was that you can't own a shape. Their response was that they can't give legal advice but:

    "Tetris Holding owns the worldwide intellectual property rights to the Tetris® game, including the copyrights in the visual expression of the game. In addition, Tetris Holding is also the owner of the Tetris trademarks and the distinctive Tetris trade dress. "

    I'm assuming trade dress is the shape/colour combination & the look of the game. From memory part of the court decision they won was based on the dimensions of the play area but don't quote me on that.

    Disclaimer: I'm not a lawyer, I'm just a guy with an opinion.
     
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2016
  18. MD_Reptile

    MD_Reptile

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    Hmm that gives me what might be a good idea. Suppose I could email them a few screenshots, and just ask them, "are you gonna go after this if it is on google play" (in nicer words)... suppose they might indicate if I'm doing anything to upset their legal team... that way if they feel like they would be doing anything about it, I could at least know before it turns into a suspension on the play store, and potentially get the green light that it's "different enough" for their standards.
     
  19. tedthebug

    tedthebug

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    It can't hurt but don't expect much. My email said I have a board game that uses tetromino shapes on playing cards to place pieces anywhere on a playing board, including on top of existing pieces. I stated that the game used no gravity mechanic, the board was square, overlapped pieces changed colour depending on certain rules, & you had to get columns & rows, & all they said was the above.


    But, they did respond & they were polite (& I think they appreciated being asked even though they didn't give a simple yes/no answer)
     
  20. MD_Reptile

    MD_Reptile

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    Found this interesting old article about "Mino" - a once very successful tetris clone on iOS:

    http://arstechnica.com/gaming/2012/06/defining-tetris-how-courts-judge-gaming-clones/

    There is one part in there that got my attention - a few bullet points about what the judge ruled what specifically made up the tetris "experience":

    • The dimensions of the playing field [20 squares high by ten squares wide].
    • The display of "garbage" lines [the random junk that can optionally appear at the start of a game].
    • The appearance of "ghost" or shadow pieces [which highlight where a piece is going to land].
    • The display of the next piece to fall.
    • The change in color of the pieces when they lock with the accumulated pieces.
    • The appearance of squares automatically filling in the game board when the game is over.

    As you see above, this does sum up tetris pretty well. They mention in the article that any one or two of these alone doesn't mean you made a tetris clone, but many of them together does!

    My game as it sits gathering dust on my drive, does not use the same board size, does not use "garbage" filler, does not show a "ghost" piece, does not change the color of pieces when they stop, and does not fill the board when the game is over. It also has different dimensions for the board.

    It DOES show the next piece to fall. It DOES have blocks falling from the top to the bottom of the game board, and lock them into place.

    Hrmmm... I still am not confident enough to upload the game to play :p

    After googling around I found it very difficult to reach a "legal" team at EA, and figured it won't get me far anyway. So yeah, haven't reached out to them, and I think it might be a tough thing to do as well.
     
  21. BIG-BUG

    BIG-BUG

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    Did you watch the video of Mino?
    That clearly is tetris there, same rules, same feeling and the graphics are also not that different at all. If I had to judge I would have banned the game as well.
    The listed bullet points are just details to "prove" that it is indeed a Tetris clone but I would be surprised if those would apply out of context.

    I wouldn't bother with trying to reach a legal contact at EA. They won't take the time to investigate your case anyway, they will just tell you to not do it.

    I say: Go for it and try to separate the game from Tetris in look and feel as far as feasible.
    Instead of colored blocks you could for example use groups of smileys. As soon as they hit ground they would take each other's hands (horizontally of course) and if a "chain"(row) is complete they vanish.
    Or your blocks could be monsters or something jelly or chemical structures or ...
    And don't call it "Something"-tris.

    P.S. I have no legal background at all and as always take all you read in the internet with a grain of salt.
     
  22. MD_Reptile

    MD_Reptile

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    I will think some more how I could set it apart further graphically, and perhaps even some more so in gameplay. If I come up with anything I'll post back about it.
     
  23. BIG-BUG

    BIG-BUG

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    Also some years ago I made a tetris clone as a personal fun project:

    SimptrisMenuSmall.jpg
    SimptrisGameSmall.jpg

    Unfortunately I can't release it thanks to heavily ripped graphics, original tetris gameplay and of course Simpsons music and sounds.
    But it is fun to not care about copyright for once.
     
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  24. MD_Reptile

    MD_Reptile

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    Haha nice, @BIG BUG that looks interesting.

    Here is something I just experimented with, using more spherical shapes (remember these are like 5 pixels wide)

     
  25. Toon_Werawat

    Toon_Werawat

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    Will EA notice you? If you release your app on Windows Phone? I'm just saying. Because EA was not really care Windows Phone. (Ironically. No one care about Windows phone ._.)
     
  26. MD_Reptile

    MD_Reptile

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    Haha, yes indeed. Poor windows phone. They (m$) even gave us free ones at the unity roadshow, but nobody seems to be using them even close to as much as droids n iStuff.