Reskinning Game vs Game Cloning – What’s The Difference?


Recently there has been a bit of an uproar in the reskinning community about how bad reskinning is, and how it will ruin the industry and how cloning a game is stealing peoples contents.

Firstly, these people do not understand the fundamental differences between reskinning and cloning.

Before I proceed, take a look at some of the passionate (if blatantly self serving and/or plain wrong) “reviews” that have been made on my Amazon book – What I find really interesting is the three “bad” reviews are from people who are not “Amazon Verified Buyers”. In other words they have in most likelihood not read my book.

You may have to click the pictures below to read them, click Back to come back to the article.

Reskinning a game really is stealing it, right???

Reskinning a game really is stealing it, right???

And here is another

Game cloning and Reskinning apps are the same thing, right??

Game cloning and Reskinning apps are the same thing, right??

If you are interested in reading them, just click the image of my book in the top right hand corner of the page.

Now, I actually have left those “reviews” online, even through I am within my rights to have them removed due to their obvious inaccuracies, and personal attacks, But at this stage, I have decided to leave them online. Now is a good time to set the record straight.

Firstly, Game cloning (where you take a game and seek to clone it, graphics and all) is NOT what reskinning is.

Game cloning can be stealing, if you are copying someones graphics and claiming them to be your own.

Lets make it clear, reskinning apps is NOT stealing. You are buying source code to a game created by a programmer. He/She gets paid. You are then using an artist to create new graphics for the game. He/She gets paid.

And you might also be using a programmer to make changes to the game, or add monetisation settings (like setting up the ads, etc for the game). Presumably he/she also gets paid.

Nothing was stolen, or copied. Everyone has been paid.

See the difference? Pretty major, yet it seems many people seem to view this as illegal or stealing, when quite clearly it is neither.

Adding value to the app store.

Another argument used is that reskins offer no value to the app store. I mean, if there is a game, and you just slap on more graphics, isn’t that just the same game with a fresh coat of paint?

At first glance you would say yes, and if thats all you are doing I would suggest that isn’t really adding a lot of value.

What if we picked the games we were going to reskin and tried to find a new demographic of player who perhaps may not have played that style of game.

Now I am going to generalise here, but generally speaking it could be argued that a male audience likes the “shoot em up” style games more than females – Again generalising I know.

What if you took an existing “shoot em up” game and figured out how to target the female audience?

How? Simple things like re-theming the graphics to something the females in your demographic choice might like to play.

Have the items, sounds, fonts, graphics, etc that they might like to play. Or that they are into.

It might be as simple as changing the male main character in the game to a female. Or it might just be some color changes, or you could go a lot further.

The point is, if you target a specific demographic of player who has not played your game or in general does not play those games, you have actually added value to the app store.

How? If you have done your research right, and then implemented the reskin right, you have created a game that people in that demographic will like to play. Players, who perhaps have never played that style of game before.

How cool is that?

Do you think Apple might actually like you doing that? You can bet they will!

That is a good, smart way to do a reskin.

What about a bad reskin?

Do bad reskins exist? You better believe they do.

Some ideas of bad reskins.

Taking the original source code of a game you bought and reskinning in the same theme. I’ve seen examples where a particular source code had a mountain theme involving you skiing and a client showed me some artwork from their artist, and it was for a skiing with a mountain theme.

Even though the graphics were different e.g. different skiers, different backgrounds, etc – it was still a skiing game.

This is not good – Basically you are producing a virtually identical experience for the player, not to mention you are now competing against the original source code.

This does not really add value to the app store because you did not target a new audience and the graphics/theme are very similar.

See the difference?

Another example of a bad reskin is those small minority of people pumping out 10,20,50 or more reskins of the same game, often they are not really targeting people, they are just more or less using the same or similar graphics with different keywords and hoping their results will stick.

Guess what? They won’t. Its very unlikely they will.

Apple is getting smarter and smarter at detecting this type of activity and are getting much more aggressive at detecting and rejecting these types of reskins.

This is spam, pure and simple, and must be stopped – And most definitely does not add value to the app store.

Does Apple want reskins?

Yes – And I speak from personal experience here. No, they do not want the bad type of reskins mentioned above (no one wants that).

I submitted a reskin recently for a client – It was a slot machine game. Initially, the app was rejected and the message returned was “This is a reskinned game”.

Proof that Apple is aware of reskinning and has a policy against them, right ?

In this particular game, I had worked with the client to add some unique functionality to the game. So I wrote back to apple via the “Resolution centre” (Your chance to communicate with the reviewer of your submitted app).

I told them that YES, THIS WAS A RESKIN, but that we had made a number of enhancements to it, and improved the player experience.

Now, you would think that if Apple had a policy of rejecting all reskins, they would have stuck firm to their policy and not budged i.e. Not allowed the game to get approved.

Guess what? After receiving that message they approved the game!

Why? It’s all about value, and the changes that were made to the game enhanced the game from the players perspective.

Lets not forget – Apple will reject ANY GAME it thinks does not have a good player experience. Reskin or not.

What I suggest you do, is not get caught up in the rights or wrongs of a “developed from scratch” game or a reskin. Instead, focus on the demographics of the player of your reskin, and create a game to suit them.

And where you have the budget, add some extra functionality to make your game/reskin stand out – Perhaps support iPad if its an iPhone only game. Maybe retina (HD) graphics, more levels? That type of thing.

And even smart things like reducing the sheer number of ads the player sees and make them appear at strategic points in the game. If you just blast ads at the player, thats not a good player experience, right ?

But ads every now and again? I think most players are ok with it, and shock horror!!! They might just click them for you 🙂

About the Author Tim Buchalka

Tim and his team completed over 500 reskins for himself or clients, and is an expert in the field.He has written 3 complete games, and has two complete video courses on Udemy that are about reskinning (as well as an Android development course with over 16,000 students!). You can find out more about Tim’s video courses here. He has also written a 110 page ebook about reskins that will give you the knowledge and skills you need to succeed with reskins which is available on this website. You can get a complimentary copy of this ebook as well as discounts to his video courses by visiting this link. To contact Tim, visit this sites contact page.

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