Update: Unpacking Master has also now been removed from the Google Play store, meaning it's no longer available there or on iOS, great news for Witch Beam and good work everyone who got in there and lodged a complaint!
Indie developer Witch Beam's Unpacking was one of the surprise gaming hits of 2021, at once a relaxing zen-like puzzler, creative and delightfully tactile play space and thoughtful musing on the unstoppable passage of time. We gave it a fabulous 9 out of 10 in our glowing review, saying that it "deftly applies established game design ideas from completely different genres."
Now, however, Witch Beam has taken to social media via the game's official Twitter account to warn fans of an "ad-riddled" knock-off of Unpacking which has shot up the charts on both the iOS App Store and Google Play store. To the untrained eye, the rip-off — which is very cheekily titled "Unpacking Master" — looks pretty much identical to Witch Beam's game in screenshots provided by the dev, albeit without the stylised pixels of the original.
Witch Beam goes on to say that they have obviously seen plenty of imitators already, but that this one is particularly bad as it's gained a ton of traction and been aggressively advertised on both TikTok and Instagram. It then goes on to highlight similarities with side-by-side comparison showing art from each game:
It's obviously a very hurtful situation for the indie team, as they themselves say;
"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."
Thankfully, as of this morning, and no doubt thanks to the complaints of fans of the game who alerted Witch Beam to the situation in the first place, Unpacking Master has been removed from the Apple's iOS App Store, where it had been sat at #1 in the free games chart. However, the clone is currently still riding high in the Google Play free games chart at #3 with over one million downloads as things currently stand.
Let's hope that this one gets pulled from Google Play as quickly as possible. In fact, maybe we should all get on there and alert the store to the fact it's a blatant copy.
What do you make of these free to play clones and the speed at which they pop up on mobile stores? What should be done to stop them from hurting and blatantly profiting from indie devs like this? Let us know in the comments.