I pass a lot of time watching youtube videos. From my love of esports highlights in Overwatch and Smash Bros Melee to critical reviews and video podcasts, I’d say youtube covers a majority of what I consume daily. A lot of that started with watching early lets plays and rant videos from the likes of Cinemassacre and Jontron. I loved the silly rants and knowledge they would have on some obscure or mediocre games, and especially the ones on unlicensed and rip-off games. Bootleg and clone games plagued the early days of gaming thanks to Nintendo’s strict policy on producing game carts for the NES. Wanting to avoid the first video game crash that Atari had fallen from grace thanks to, Nintendo had placed cautious measures on companies abilities to produce content on its properties. Third-party developers were obligated to set limits on the number of titles they produced per year (typically five) to avoid flooding the market with similar games, as well as agreeing that their games would be available exclusively on Nintendo systems for a particular period of time. Restrictions of this kind allowed Nintendo to maintain a degree of control over both the number of games produced and the content of those games. That didn’t stop third parties from finding alternative methods of course, and it’s the primary reason the NES library grew so large. Back when I worked at a local retro store, I was introduced to Tengen carts, color dreams carts and multi-carts which were games or compilations made without licensing from Nintendo. A few of them are pictured below. Bootlegging became incredibly easy to do throughout the lifecycle of the cartridge and its led to some bad translations, knock-offs and just plain broken messes that can’t even be rightfully called games. They're incredibly entertaining to watch people try to suffer through and play, hence why many YouTubers make such a successful show based around looking at them. But a lot of this also had me thinking that it seemed relegated to the 8bit and 16bit era. I’ve seen a few exceptions in the PS1 and PS2 days, but you rarely saw those games covered. It then became horribly apparent to me that these practices never actually ended. In fact, they may have gotten a whole lot worse. Did the 7th generation of consoles suffer from this at all, and does this current generation see it happening today? Well, this image here should send us off on a good start. Seem familiar to you? Maybe it would help if they had a good character intro vide- Oh boy. This is one of the more prominent examples of an absolute clone of an existing property. Not a complete bootleg, but no redemption points for it either. PC is a pretty easy market to find clones on, and it’s a million times worse on mobile. Some of them seem like they have some… inspirations And others… Oh come on, you didn’t eve- YOU DID NOT EVEN TRY WITH THAT ONE. I can't even begin to tell you how awful the mobile market has become with reprinted games. It always existed, but we did not see this enormous bloat of clones until the age of Flappy Bird. When Flappy Bird was taken away, clones of the game did not just flood the scene but battered it into a senseless pulp like a raging tsunami. Back in 2014, Digital Trends noted that there were over 800 flappy bird clones currently on the market, with at least 60 being added DAILY. This is where the ultimate problem begins setting in. A lot of this started on mobile and PC markets which led to an oversaturated market of shit to sift through to attempt to find the few gems worth playing. On PC especially it has become a cesspool of complete garbage pushed onto the storefront in to make a quick buck. The kicker is that a lot of these games get the constant defense of, “small indie studio looking to make their big break.” Indie games aren’t inherently bad, and I’ve enjoyed quite a few of them myself. But now we have reached this awful place in gaming where the difference between harmless indie and blatant clone/quick cash grab isn’t even apparent anymore. Options are wonderful and obviously it’s up to us as consumers to pick and choose what it is we want to play but at this point it’s getting increasingly difficult to find the good choices among all the soulless drivel. It’s like going to a burger joint, opening the menu looking for burger options and seeing 47 versions of a burger with cheese, but the cheese is slightly to the left on some and the bun is upside down on others, and the server is trying to tell you each one is a different burger. The beauty of the system that Nintendo originally had is that even though it did not prevent bootlegging and third party carts, it separated them from real licensed material and still made a basic screening process for games. It was not ideal and some garbage still made its way out there, but it protected itself in the long run for an enormous oversaturation much like Atari faced all those years ago. We find ourselves in a somewhat similar position now, one that has been discussed before with the semi-recent articles of how many steam games hit the platform daily, and how the PS4 and Xbox One online ecosystems are beginning to see a similar trend. I mean, 40% of all steam games on the entire ecosystem were released in 2016. A little less than half of what is on steam was added in a single year. The point I’m trying to make here is that while options are nice, our options don’t need to be this broad and they certainly don’t need to be this gluttonous. I’ve seen it echoed so many times now that AAA games aren’t original anymore and that we are starved for creativity when in reality the small and subtle variety and changes in those games is all but a new topping on the metaphorical burger that other games are just adding salt to and calling new. This isn’t changing anytime soon either. I never took mobile gaming seriously before, and I could never attempt to now when only 2% of anything that comes out could even be considered a game, let alone something original and worth playing. It’s happening to steam as the days go by and it’s making its way into console gaming every waking moment. We aren’t looking at the tea leaves of a gaming crash by any means. The gaming market is stronger than ever in fact. But we are looking now at a disgusting oversaturation, the likes of which Atari and old Nintendo would vomit over. As a matter of fact, I think the only people that are still combatting this gluttony of games IS Nintendo in this very respect. A console needs third parties to survive, but it needs curated, WORTHWHILE third parties over trivial garbage. The PS4 floated without meaningful console exclusives for the first year of its lifecycle thanks to third party support from large developers and a slew of wonderfully made indie games, and the Swtich looks to be mirroring that same respect. Some have come to criticize Nintendo’s recent approach to indies thanks to their strict approach to content. I, on the other hand, applaud their efforts to keep their ecosystems free of all the meaningless garbage in favor of curated games and experiences. Quantity does not mean quality, and that means a lot for the Switch in its upcoming years as well as for the future of other platforms. You may be looking at all of this and be thinking that it means nothing because you can just ignore the trash in favor of seeking out good experiences for yourself because you’re an educated gamer. That’s good, I applaud you for standing above the other casuals with your head held high. But think of what this continues to do to the casual market. Think of all the wasted resources that go into making quick dollar games. Think of all the money that goes into those games that could have gone into bigger and better projects. All of that money that gets leeched from original games the second cheaper clones have the opportunity to gobble up the remaining pennies in a clueless casual’s wallet. It’s a problem that we will either see go nowhere, get bigger as time goes on, or hopefully completely go away in favor of stricter guidelines for publishing games. There is no saving the mobile maket. But we can at least protect our console and maybe even our PC market before its too late.