Minecraft: Pocket Edition consistently sits atop the iTunes paid app chart. Right now, the wildly popular block-building adventure game is in the number-two spot. Until a few moments ago, it was closely trailed by a bogus fake sequel app called Minecraft: Pocket Edition 2.
The fraudulent knockoff, which was boldly advertised as a legit sequel to the real thing from Mojang, had secured the number-four spot on the chart. And in that sweet spot it might’ve stayed -- or even leapfrogged to number one from -- had outraged gamers on Reddit not outed it as fake only 13 hours ago.
This was the link for the fraudulent game. Originally released on Dec. 21, the $5 app had zero in common with Minecraft. It was actually a mindless swiping zombie game that involved beating up Scorpion from Mortal Kombat. Several users had reported that it crashed their phones. Not cool.
Soon after the game was exposed for the complete and total phony that it was, the media took notice. A damning report about the deceptive app soon appeared in Eurogamer. Next came an outpouring of articles about the revelation -- in Kotaku, then in Game Rant and several others, all cautioning iOS gamers not to be fooled by the latest Minecraft rip-off.
Mojang, the Swedish video game developer that created the original Minecraft, was quick to react. The company told Eurogamer its enforcement team was all over it. Without saying how, Owen Hill, Mojang’s director of creative communications, said the game maker was busy getting the app yanked from the Apple App Store, citing copyright and trademark violations.
"It's great that Minecraft has inspired people to create amazing things,” Hill said, “but when a product attempts to dupe our community or exploit their enthusiasm for the game, it's our responsibility to step in.”
Apple, no stranger to counterfeiting trolls, was also fast to react. The evidence: Minecraft: Pocket Edition 2 is no longer available for download from the Cupertino, Calif. colossus. It’s as if the lame game never existed.
For Mojang and for millions of Minecraft fans the world over, justice was swiftly served.
We reached out to Apple, Microsoft and Mojang for comment, but none immediately responded.
As for what will become of its rumored inventor, one Scott Cawthorn -- a weak play on the name of Five Nights at Freddy’s developer Scott Cawthon -- remains to be seen, potentially inside the court of law and out. We imagine the fiercely vigilant gamer community will have plenty of fun at his expense on social media and everywhere else they virtually lurk.
Unfortunately, this is far from the first time a shady Minecraft wannabe has reared its ugly head in the Apple App Store. The service has long been plagued by them. Cybersecurity experts estimate that some 2.8 million gamers hoping to play the real, Microsoft-owned deal have been duped by blockheads peddling Minecraft lookalikes.
Most knockoffs of the app appear to be add-ons to the genuine thing. Some of them offer cheat codes and many unknowingly rope people into recurring subscription fees for various services they never ordered in the first place.
Talk about a bunch of creepers.