We all like to praise someone for being creative and starting something from nothing. These are the people who invent something that revolutionized technology or entertainment as we know it. And when that happens, you can bet there’s going to be others who will point at that and say, “Hey, I can do that, too!”
Most of the time, the copycat fails due to a number of reasons. However, for those chosen few ripoffs, some of them do become highly successful and make a name for themselves. Here is just a look at five special ripoffs that carved a place for themselves in pop culture.
#1 The Silent Hill Franchise (a “ripoff” of the Resident Evil series)
There have been many horror games in the past. There was Clock Tower for the Super NES, I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream on the PC and, of course, Alone in the Dark on the PC as well. But when Resident Evil came out on the original PlayStation, it was a game changer. It brought horror to the forefront of the world of gaming and even created it’s own genre: survival horror.
It was only a matter of time when other companies would try to capitalize on Resident Evil’s success. Games like Fatal Frame and Parasite Eve aped what Resident Evil did. But no one copied the formula as well as the Silent Hill games. In fact, some would say that it improved on the formula and became its own thing.
The Silent Hill games lean less into action and jumpscares and more into psychological horror. Most of the time, you play an everyman (or woman) who generally gets trapped in the titular town in the Midwest, where some really crazy and frightening monsters attack.
The franchise was a big hit for Konami and there are officially eight entries in the series. Unfortunately, Konami has stopped making new Silent Hill games and, to the dismay of millions of fans everywhere, cancelled Hideo Kojima’s planned Silent Hills and even removing the fantastic demo, P. T., from official sources. Even so, the Silent Hill series is fondly remembered by horror fans as one of the best horror-adventure franchises out there.
#2 Facebook (a “ripoff” of Friendster and MySpace)
It seems like everyone has a Facebook profile, for better or worse. The social networking website has been adopted by so many people, other companies just require you to enter your Facebook profile to create an account on their website! That’s how big Facebook is now.
Facebook wasn’t the first social networking website. During the early days of the Internet, there were already sites like SixDegrees. But a lot of Facebook’s success is probably owed by sites like MySpace and most definitely Friendster. You can say that Friendster was the Facebook of the past as you can do pretty much the same things you did there!
In fact, there were some debates as to which social networking website was the best, with most people getting hooked on Friendster and MySpace way before Facebook. Facebook owes a lot to its predecessors as it does a lot of the things sites like Friendster did. However, Facebook managed to outlast them, thanks to things like Status Updates and Relationship Statuses. Now, Facebook is the de factor leader of the social networking charge.
#3 Mortal Kombat franchise (a “ripoff” of Street Fighter II)
Fighting games have become extremely popular over the years and that’s all thanks to Street Fighter II. This was not only the game that revived the arcades in the ’90s, it also released a competitive spirit in gamers where they just had to pump in those quarters and tokens in order to beat the guy who’s been hogging the machine for hours!
Of course, when something is incredibly popular, everyone wants to get into the act. The arcades were soon flooded with other titles like Tekken, Virtua Fighter, Samurai Shodown, Fatal Fury and Art of Fighting. But there was one game that grabbed everyone’s attention like a blue ninja ripping out someone’s spine. That game is Mortal Kombat.
While you can say that Mortal Kombat’s game mechanics weren’t as refined as Street Fighter’s engine, the game was definitely something to see. Instead of using hard-drawn sprites for their characters, Mortal Kombat used digitized videos of actual martial artists performing the moves. That was already eye-catching in itself. But the real kicker were the Fatalities.
Instead of simply knocking your opponent out, the winner in Mortal Kombat could perform a killing blow to the loser, just to rub their defeat in the faces a little more. Fatalities may not really add anything to the actual kombat… I mean, combat. But it did make the Mortal Kombat games come off as a little more for older kids. This wasn’t your kiddie franchise where you just knock out your foe!
Thanks to Mortal Kombat, games weren’t afraid to show a little more blood. In fact, this was one of the games that created the ESRB because of the controversy!
#4 Fortnite (a “ripoff” of PlayerUnknown’s Battle Grounds or PUBG)
There was a time when it seemed like every video game developer and their mother had plans to put out their very own Battle Royale shooter game. Honestly, that still may be the case today as it’s still hard to keep track on which new Battle Royale game has been released and which one has already died out because of lack of support. All of this can be attributed to one specific game: PlayerUnderground’s Battle Grounds AKA PUBG.
PUBG may actually be the first game to create the basis for the basic rules of most Battle Royale games. While there have been a lot of “last man standing” type games out there, where you get dropped into an area and face off against possibly a hundred opponents. Eventually, the arena starts to shrink, forcing more and more players to crowd around and come in contact with one another. PUBG looked unstoppable… until Fortnite came out.
Fortnite was pretty much the king of the gaming world in 2019. There are so many gamers who have made a career of just playing this one game and, the kid who won the Fortnite World Cup? He bagged a cool $3 million!
In retrospect, it’s kind of obvious why Fortnite took a lot of PUBG’s thunder. Fortnite just looks better with its colorful graphics and the company that made the game is rich enough to back a tournament that has a $3 million prize for the winner. Oh, and Fortnite also added something important, which was actually a gameplay mechanic that was carried over from the base game: the ability to build structures.
Allowing players to build structures on the fly added a more strategic element that PUBG didn’t have. You can build structures to make a tower to snipe enemies or make a quick shield to block bullets. You can also build ramps to traverse areas you couldn’t pass through as well. There are other strategies to building in Fortnite but that’s what makes the game feel more exciting that PUBG.
#5 World of Warcraft (a “ripoff” of EverQuest)
Before the entire Battle Royale genre took the gaming world by storm, there was another online gaming genre that every company wanted to make because it was raking in tons of cash. That would be the ,assively multiplayer online role-playing game or the MMORPG genre. Even during the early days of computer gaming, there were things like MUDs and multi-user RPGs like Neverwinter Nights and even Runescape.
Then a little game called EverQuest was made.
I never played EverQuest because, one, it was an online game in the early 2000s and my Internet really sucked then and two, you needed a fairly good PC, which I didn’t have and, three, you had to pay a subscription fee. But there had to be something incredibly magical and addictive about it. After all, its nickname was “EverCrack,” an allusion to cocaine and playing games like it would lead to people living in their basement just keep on playing the game, while avoiding real physical contact with other real people.
The controversies didn’t stop other companies from making their own version of EverQuest. In retrospect, its infamous reputation might have helped bolster the genre. Games like Final Fantasy XI and Guild Wars were made to get a slice of that MMORPG pie. Even then, it looked like EverQuest was unstoppable… until World of Warcraft arrived on the scene.
There were really high expectations from World of Warcraft. The game already has a pedigree thanks to it being part of Blizzard’s Warcraft universe. Yet, World of Warcraft managed to meet, if not exceed, those lofty expectations. Word of Warcraft was and still is a huge success. It was so big that it took a big chunk of EverQuest’s user base. While EverQuest still survives to this day, World of Warcraft still stands tall amongst the herd of MMORPGs out there.
What other “ripoff” properties can you think off that managed to take the genre to new heights? Let me know in the comments section below!