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Self-help app The Fabulous has ripped off indie game Gris

Ah, the video game industry and plagiarism, hand in hand again. This time it’s another app developer doing the plagiarising, and indie game Gris is the victim.

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Ah, the video game industry and plagiarism, hand in hand again. This time it’s another app developer doing the plagiarising, and indie game Gris is the victim.

Sometimes, in the video game world, we see some really blatant plagiarism. Usually, it’s in the form of cheap app store clones, like the ones that plagued indie games Baba is You and Donut County before their release, among others. The rippers are app store scoundrels, churning out derivatives on an almost-daily basis, and the rip-ees are usually sufficiently small and indie that the rippers don’t fear litigation.

And sometimes the plagiarism is really significant and kind of weird, like that time Gilette ripped off Firewatch’s logo. Or that other time, when a Ford dealership ripped off Firewatch key art by Olly Moss.

Today’s one is new levels of weird, though: self-help app called The Fabulous has ripped off Nomada Studio’s Gris, and publisher Devolver Digital is not pleased.

Gris was one of our best games of 2018. It’s spectacular. In our review we called it “an absorbing experience delivered with remarkable style and clarity,” paying special attention to its glorious art style, “a feeling, distilled and concentrated, then poured onto the game’s canvas like spilt ink onto blotting paper.”

And it’s that art style and soft, gentle animation that has caught the attention of the magpies at The Fabulous. Some elements of the art and style of Gris – including its giant hand motif, and the girl’s dress – have been lifted directly, almost frame for frame.

The Fabulous then offered something of a bizarre “apology,” which Devolver handled very politely under the circumstances.

Removing the offending content and investigating is a good start. But for future reference, trying to pitch yourself as “the little guy” to excuse the plagiarism, and not actually owning or apologising for the mistake? That smacks of the “I’m sorry if you were offended” non-apologies we see from so many celebrities and public figures.

We call this “doing a Miucin” in the video game industry, and it is not cool. Or indeed, fabulous.

Tom is an itinerant freelance technology writer who found a home as an Editor with Thumbsticks. Powered by coffee, RPGs, and local co-op.

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