ByAna Valens, writer at
Writer and games critic. As seen at the Daily Dot, Waypoint, Kill Screen, Bitch Media, and ZEAL.
Ana Valens

Did you enjoy Firewatch? Do you want more Firewatch content? Well, New Firewatch is not necessarily what you're looking for.

Firewatch's publisher, Cabel Sasser, came across New Firewatch first and warned the gaming community that his team had not created an additional Firewatch game. Instead, someone named Albert Gavril created a game that looks a lot like Firewatch from the outside, but isn't. It's totally plausible that the game could be an iOS port, and the game even fooled one person into buying it.

You've been avenged, Pumpkin pie freak.
You've been avenged, Pumpkin pie freak.

Thankfully, the game is offline now: the App Store pulled it down for copyright infringement. But before then, Sasser created a satirical Let's Play making fun of the game. Check it out below.

Pretty funny, right? And for good reason. The game seems very quickly slapped together, with weird pop-in texture issues, a watchtower that's impossible to interact with, and sloppy level creation that literally lets the player fall off the planet. It seems this rip-off game was created to score a quick dollar off the Firewatch name, and it's clearly doing that very poorly.

Sasser knows what's up, and he has a warning for the game's creator: he's watching.

Other Rip-Offs

Uh oh. I think we stumbled into the wrong game, Luigi.
Uh oh. I think we stumbled into the wrong game, Luigi.

Of course, New Firewatch isn't the first terrible copyright rip-off in gaming. Bootleg copies of popular video game franchises are common, with many illegitimate publishers trying to pass off slightly-altered (and not-so-slightly altered) games within popular franchises to score some quick cash.

More often than not, the App Store is a huge home to copycats. Take Pocket Monster Saga, a game on the App Store that was seriously ripping off Pokémon. USgamer reported about it a few years back, and the amount of ideas, characters, and assets ripped off is pretty damning. Pikachu, Charmander, and Gastly literally feature in the game. We're not kidding, look at some of the screenshots below.

Brock? Is that you? Photo via USgamer.
Brock? Is that you? Photo via USgamer.
Use "Purchase Package" on 'em, Misty! Photo via USgamer.
Use "Purchase Package" on 'em, Misty! Photo via USgamer.

Pretty weird, right? It feels like all those Pokémon have been copied and pasted straight into the game. It's definitely unsettling. But it's pretty normal around the App Store, with games blatantly ripping off major franchises: and Apple has been putting down their foot.

It's been going on for awhile, too. Much longer than mobile gaming. In some cases, programmers and developers create illegitimate bootleg games from scratch by hacking and creating cartridges.

In the '90s, this was incredibly popular across Nintendo and SEGA systems. For instance, in some countries, Mario games were created for the SEGA Genesis. They were even sold to the public, too, from not-so-reputable dealers. Pretty crazy, but definitely common.

Check out SpaceHamster's look at Mario games on SEGA consoles.

Some of these bootleg rip-off games were pretty passable. Others are totally weird. For instance, one The Lion King bootleg game for the SNES features Simba hanging himself at the end. Timon and Pumba also kill themselves too -- albeit, it's not as graphic. Still, it's sort of terrifying if you don't expect it.

Pretty weird, and a lot of bootleg games have this harsh quality to them: buggy, unpolished, and just slightly "off" compared to the source material. Of course, in the past, these bootleg and rip-off games would be sold in shady marketplaces face-to-face. These days, the App Store allows all sorts of games to go through, with only Apple effectively deciding what stays (and what goes).

It's a strange world. But rip-offs will never truly go away. Let's just hope that a little bit of enforcement will prevent shady developers from stealing players' cash.

Have you stumbled across any weird or interesting bootleg video games? Share your favorites in the comments below.


Latest from our Creators