Clone of acclaimed indie game Unpacking tops App Store, then gets removed

Clone of acclaimed indie game Unpacking tops App Store, then gets removed

by Lily White
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One of last year’s most acclaimed indie games was Unpacking, a relaxing puzzler about piecing together the protagonist’s life by emptying their boxes and figuring out where to put their boxes.

Naturally, then, some jerks had to shamelessly copy it. As Unpacking developer Witch Beam shared on Twitter, a title that looked virtually identical to its own was making the rounds on the App Store and Google Play.

If you’ve happened to catch an ad for a suspiciously similar-looking game to Unpacking📦 on mobile recently, please know that this is not our game.

They sure seem to want to give the impression that it is, though! 🧵

— Unpacking 📦 Out NOW! (@UnpackingALife) January 25, 2022

The clone, titled Unpacking Master, was published by a company called Cypress-based SayGames. It was free to download with ads, although these could be removed for a one-time $4.99 USD (about $6.32 CAD).

Per the Brisbane, Australia-based Witch Beam, promotion on TikTok and Instagram led many people to discover the knock-off. “While we’ve seen many imitators already, usually they don’t get much traction,” the developer explained.

The clone got so much attention, in fact, that it briefly topped the App Store charts. Shortly after, the game was removed from the App Store, with the Google Play version following suit. Witch Beam then thanked fans on Twitter for their support.

SayGames, meanwhile, apologized to Witch Beam via a January 25th statement to Kotaku. “I’d like to apologize for our lack of research prior to launching the game from one of the developers we work with,” the publisher said. “The game clearly resembles Unpacking and this resemblance goes way beyond the game title. We messed up and we apologize.”

The publisher went on to say it’s been “in touch with Witch Beam to discuss how we can resolve this.” Given how blatantly similar Unpacking Master is to Unpacking (down to the nearly identical titles), it’s hard to believe SayGames that this was accidental.

In any event, it’s no doubt little consolation to Witch Beam.

“It’s demoralising for a small team like ours to see content we spent literally years planning, refining and handcrafting be hastily reproduced in an opportunistic ad-riddled app a mere 3 months after our launch,” Witch Beam tweeted on January 24th.

“We’re a tiny indie team and even with the success we have achieved, we still don’t have the resources to pursue companies trying to use our game’s distinct look and feel to make a quick buck. We have to rely on storefronts like the App Store to better curate their content.”

The Unpacking debacle comes mere weeks after the App Store played host to a variety of since-removed clones of Josh Wardle’s popular word puzzle game, Wordle. One of these even came from a New York-based developer who publicly boasted on Twitter about how he blatantly ripped off Wardle’s game

In both cases, Apple quietly removed the clones without making any public statement. Hopefully, the company updates its App Store policies to better protect creators.

For now, you can purchase the real Unpacking (which is a lovely little game!) on Steam, GOG, Nintendo Switch and Xbox consoles (including Game Pass) for $22.79 to $25.99 CAD, depending on the platform.

Image credit: Witch Beam

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