Grand Theft Auto clone
A Grand Theft Auto clone is a type of an action-adventure video game which is inspired by the Grand Theft Auto series through its likenesses and overall game design. These games feature an open world with a variety of vehicles and weapons while roaming freely in an open world setting. Commonly, the gameplay is based on missions where the player is mostly driving and shooting, as well as completing additional side missions and playing minigames to extend the game. The plot in these types of games is based on strong crime themes, violence, and other controversial content. The popularity of creating games similar to the GTA games is due to the success of Grand Theft Auto III, which was critically acclaimed and performed commercially, hence various companies were trying to replicate the success of Rockstar Games.
While most PC and console clones are positively or negatively received or both by critics depending on the game's content, the GTA clones made for Android and iOS are met with criticism. This is because the games have no original ideas, and include slight alterations of GTA elements. Despite the presence of five GTA games on both Google Play and the App Store, these clones are still being released to this day.
The term was formerly used to describe games that utilize the same gameplay mechanics as GTA. However, today it refers to games that try to resemble the series' plot, city setting and cast, as well as shovelware games that have similar gameplay and poorly written plots.
Origins and Spread
Driver is known to be the first GTA clone ever, having being released in 1999. It utilizes the open world driving mechanics which debuted in GTA. GTA at the time utilized 2D graphics, which were becoming obsolete by then. However the big faction of clones started after the release of Grand Theft Auto III in 2001, which was a huge success. Games like Mafia, The Getaway, True Crime and Saints Row are all influenced by GTA.
Between 2001 and 2004, Rockstar was throwing shots at their rivals who cloned their games through game missions and easter eggs. Reflections Interactive, the developers of Driver, was their main target, as the GTA Trilogy contains references to them most of the time. Most of these games ended up being franchises that were positively received most of the time.
The aforementioned GTA clones also had mobile ports (mainly on Nokia phones at the time) unlike GTA. However, Gangstar by Gameloft is confirmed to be the first mobile-oriented game, with the first installment, Gangstar: Crime City being released in 2006. Like the other games, it also ended up being a franchise too.
The Payback series by indie game company Apex Designs is considered to be the runner up, as the iOS port of the first game arrived in 2009. Although the game was originally released in 2001 for Amiga, eight months prior to Grand Theft Auto III, it is more popular in the mobile game industry, especially with the second installment released in 2012.
By this time, Rockstar had already started porting some GTA games to mobile devices, in order to celebrate the games' 10th anniversaries (excluding San Andreas, Liberty City Stories and Chinatown Wars). The ports somehow managed to do well (except San Andreas, well, mostly X360/PS3 version, even through mobile version also got some bugs) among fans of the series, while the other clones still garnered popularity among newcomers. Gangstar Rio, the fifth installment in the Gangstar series, for example managed to get about 100K installs and hit the charts on Google Play. It still charts to this day.
Things started to change in 2013, when Gangstar Vegas was released in the first quarter of 2013 and was a big hit in the mobile game industry. Clones of both the game and the GTA series started to breed, but they were obscure. After the release of GTA V in late 2013, more clones started coming and even increased in number with the mobile port of GTA San Andreas. By the time Flappy Bird was delisted from mobile stores and indie devs started cloning the game itself and various mobile games and popular AAA games, the mobile GTA clones were being mass released. By the end of 2014, shovelware GTA clones had already engulfed the App Store and Play Store and were everywhere to be found. This is still continuing to this day.
Grand Theft Auto clones with their own pages
Why Most of Them (Some Intentionally) are Wasted
Most of these problems are attributed to the clones found on Google Play (most of the time) and the App Store.
- They're just asset flips created just to earn money with ad revenue, as they're reskins from mobile GTA Clones, and use the same engine (mostly Unity) over and over and over again.
- Too many pop-up ads that interrupt the game, especially when you lose the game, even with the non-asset flips.
- They're free but come with a large file size despite their poor quality and low detail of graphics and sound. This is likely because of the unused stuff found in the game's files.
- Longer loading times, even as long as GTA V.
- They have microtransactions, just like any Google Play rip-offs, and have a paywall. In some games, you must pay a premium currency to steal vehicles (Urban Crime is a good example of this.)
- Speaking of vehicles, when you jack a car, there is no carjacking animations. The player is replaced with the stolen car until he gets out.
- Poor programming and various game-breaking bugs and glitches.
- Little, if any, physical or AI programming at all. In some games, the cars move on their own.
- Very poor graphics, even for mobile device standards. The cars look like they're from PlayStation 1 era Driver games or early Gameloft Asphalt games, the box shadows have artifacts on them (or no shadows in the game at all), buildings look like they were taken from a PlayStation 2 game, the sky boxes look like they were taken from an early Need For Speed or Gran Turismo game, and worst of all, the characters look like flat unshaded original Xbox characters.
- They have models and HUDs stolen from other games.
- Some of them have generic soundtracks. In fact, most of them use EDM music from NoCopyrightSounds or music by Kevin MacLeod most of the time.
- Despite #11, these games have no radio stations at all, which is one of the core staples in GTA clones.
- Most of these clones and rip-offs can be found in over-saturation.
- Some of these clones are not properly optimized and even lag on high end devices.
- False Advertising: Some of these games use screenshots from a modded GTA V, GTA IV or San Andreas. Not to mention that some of them even have fake touchscreen controls photoshopped onto them. Some of them even lie about the game's graphics in an attempt to lure customers. For example, the GTA clone played by RADAL has realistic screenshots akin to that of a seventh generation game, but the actual game has PlayStation 2-esque graphics.
- A Russian game company, known as Naxeex (also known as Naxeex Studio, Naxeex LTD and even Naxeex Robots), is notorious for recycling their games and releasing them under different titles., They also add anachronisms to some of their titles.
- Most of their games are total asset flips by using the maps and models from the Unity Asset Store and also relies on using voice clips, sound effects and music from freesound.org.
- All of their games use the same mechanics (the startup screen is a good example).
- Some of these games have generic titles, most notably having the words "gangster", "crime", "Mafia", "grand" and such to attract gamers who have little to no experience about the Grand Theft Auto series. While GTA revolves around criminals/gangsters who have been involved in motor vehicle theft (also known as grand theft auto, therefore remaining true to the title), this games are just trying to portray the gang life (which was introduced in San Andreas), but fail miserably. Furthermore, the game might have nothing to do with these terms.
- Because of #17, the names of these games are annoyingly long, nonsensical and cringy simultaneously. Crime Steal Auto? Real Gangster Auto Crimes? Grand Gangsters Auto Crimes? Really?
- The mobile rip-offs are mainly focused on GTA Vice City and GTA San Andreas. Some new titles also rip off GTA V and even GTA Online, like this one.
- One game even attempted to rewrite the whole plot of San Andreas. Some of them even attempt to copy the plot of rarer GTA games like the Stories sub-series.
- These games use simplistic fonts like Arial or Roboto (which is the default font for Android devices) but what's even worse is that some of them use the Pricedown font, which is the main font of the Grand Theft Auto series.
- Some of these games go as far as to rip off other GTA clones like Gangstar or Saints Row, making it a clone of a clone.
- Most of these games lack core mechanics found in other GTA clones, such as car damage and drive-by shooting.
- The protagonists are poor rip-offs of either Tommy Vercetti or Carl Johnson from the GTA series.
- Some games use DC or Marvel-like characters as players, which the developer can get sued for that.
- Despite most of these games' titles depicting that the game is set in a certain city (For example: Las Vegas), the map actually looks nothing like the real-life city, not even a small portion of it! Some games even tend to rip off Grove Street from GTA San Andreas. In most of these games, the "cities" are basically skyscrapers and towers.
- The games have no storylines at all. Even those which have basically has the protagonist steal vehicles, kill enemies or even partake in street races. While this is prominent in the GTA series, they are usually accompanied by appealing dialogues and cutscenes that juice up the game. The clones appear to be nothing but extremely specific in everything. They even have fourth wall breaking instances during character conversations, which makes the game unrealistic.
- On the subject of speech, one can easily hint that they use Google Translate to write the English dialogues as it's full of grammatical errors. To make matters worse, they prefer to publish their games in English language only, as they try so hard to appeal to western audiences, and yet have to do so.
- People from non-English speaking countries can't play the game due to the language, and English-speaking gamers can't understand it too due to broken grammar.
- Some of these games say that you can experience gang wars in the game, despite some of them not having gangs at all, therefore defying the 'gangster' theme.
- A few of these games contain some real-life brands (or edits of real life brands) which is also another hint at their lack of effort.
- The majority of vehicles in these clones are sports cars, making the citizens look like millionaires. The issue with this is that this isn't something common in real life as most people can't afford such cars.
- The app icons and startup screens of these games depict the player flexing firearms or luxury automobiles.
- Bike riders are immortal to crashes, as crashing into them will just push the bike further with the driver still mounted.
- Police AI is very stupid, as for example, some of them do not respond to severe crimes or even crimes being perpetrated right next to them.
- Some of the GTA clones, such as the Saints Row series, Crackdown, the Just Cause series, the Watch Dogs series, the Red Dead Redemption series (apart it's sets on 1870s, it still counts for using the same elements from GTA series), Sleeping Dogs, Scarface: The World Is Yours, The Simpsons: Hit & Run, and The Matrix Awakens: An Unreal Engine 5 Experience (despite this game only being a tech demo for now) are actually very good and feature unique elements that help set them apart from Grand Theft Auto.
- They have accompanied certain non-GTA consoles (especially home consoles like GameCube, Wii and Wii U, and very rarely, handheld consoles like 3DS and PS Vita). They are the best alternative to GTA for Nintendo users.
- This includes C.O.P. The Recruit, another GTA-like game released in 2009 which only had a Nintendo DS port, also somehow manages to avoid coming off much less of a GTA clone/rip-off as well.
- While the mobile clones are extremely notorious for its low quality, some of them are actually good and are iconic in the industry. Examples include the Gangstar series (pre-2016) and Payback 2 (which is actually the remake of the first game for Amiga).
- Because some of them can be interesting, it's worth playing while you wait for the next GTA installment.
- GTA Clone on Grand Theft Wiki