- Over at his regular Hollywood Reporter column, Paul Hyman has been discussing the topic of casual game 'cloning', which you may recall has been the subject of some controversy on Gamasutra, GameSetWatch, and every other damn casual game discussion ever.

Hyman claims: "Recently, chatter within the Casual Games SIG of the International Game Developers Association heated up when developers proposed that copyrighting their work was the only way to prevent what has happened to such games as "Tetris" and "Bejeweled."" Of course, a lot of people (probably including me) believe that any kind of patent or legal securing of game concepts can be a terrible idea - there's been a recent Gamasutra article about that too from David Sirlin.

This is probably the most interesting bit: "But, in [his] posting to the Casual Games SIG's "Casual Games Digest," Kim Pallister, business development manager at Microsoft Casual Games, notes that MSN Games has taken a stand on clones. "Granted, it's a bit of a 'soft shoe' stance, but it's something," says Pallister. MSN Games' games acceptance criteria states that "Games that mimic other titles may receive additional scrutiny."

Pallister continues: "We understand that most games draw upon many elements of their predecessors... That being said, MSN Games has received games that were transparently obvious copies of popular casual game titles. Since these clones typically have very little new of value to add, we may opt to not accept such a title for distribution."" First time I've seen anyone in the casual biz even mention this in public - though maybe I haven't been looking hard enough.