Pokemon Go was a massive hit when it launched in 2016, passing 650 million downloads in its first eight months and becoming Apple’s most downloaded app of 2016.
They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and after such success, it was inevitable that clones would begin pouring in, borrowing elements ranging from Pokemon Go’s augmented reality to its integration of real-world locations.
The app market might be unpredictable, but one thing is certain: if anyone makes something even remotely successful, you can bet there’ll be imitators. Pokemon GO might have used a lot of the bells and whistles of a smartphone, but it’s still been a victim to a flood of copycats - some of which are unknown and just trying to make a quick buck, while other's are well-known brands and franchises. Check out some of these shameless Pokemon Go ripoffs!
20 Monster Ball Go
We’ll say this for Playfox Games’ Monster Ball GO: they have at least made an effort with their ripoff. Most of the other games in this list follow a certain theme or appear to be rushed, but Playfox has built more of an alternate take on Niantic’s game with its own set of beasts and even a few additional game modes.
19 Pocket Catch Games
Some developers might try to grab a quick buck from copying Pokemon GO, but Pocket Catch Games wants to make an entire business out of it. There are no less than 11 terrible variants of Niantic’s formula here, barely different in content other than the 2D pictures of animals the developer has cut around and stuck into the app. As far as shameless imitations go, this ranks right up there!
18 Let's Hunt Monsters
Let’s Hunt Monsters is a Chinese response to the Pokémon Go mania. It was created by the publishing giant Tencent - known for League of Legends and PUBG. Their game Let’s Hunt Monsters is described as a cross between Pokémon Go and Cryptokitties. This introduces some exciting concepts like the ability to crossbreed monsters to create entirely unique fighters to join the player’s roster.
17 Cats Go
It doesn’t surprise us that someone had the idea to pair cats with Pokemon GO and, with millions of downloads, Banana4apps probably hasn't spent a second regretting it. We even like that players have to catch kitties with yarn balls instead of Poke-balls... That still doesn’t change that this is a total ripoff that's entirely based on someone else’s idea.
16 Jurassic World Alive
Like Pokemon Go, Jurassic World Alive will have players finding creatures in the real world - with some being unique to specific locations - and will allow you to view them using augmented reality. A unique concept is the ability to take dinosaur DNA and craft hybrids in a lab. The game claims there’s no limit to which dinosaurs can be hybridized making it an interesting component of the game.
15 Garfield Go
Garfield Go doesn’t even try to pretend it’s anything more than a copycat, it's right there in the name, and the official website says it's for players who “enjoy playing other location-based games, like Pokemon Go, Seek or Munzee.” Garfield Go lets players collect coins and hunt down treasure chests in real-world locations. You can even fling lasagna at Garfield in a way that suspiciously similar to tossing Pokeballs.
14 Ghostbusters World
Ghostbusters World uses augmented reality to let players see ghosts from the franchise in the real world. Publisher FourThirtyThree says Ghostbusters World “will enable players to battle and capture hundreds of ghosts.” Interestingly, Ghostbusters World will offer “new and unique ghosts” in addition to those you’ve seen before in the films, TV shows, comic books, theme parks, and other games. Sounds awesome!
13 Draconius Go
Draconius Go copies everything from egg hatching to Pokestops to candies and even the actual monster-catching. But publisher Elyland wasn't hiding it, and even recruited prominent Pokemon Go YouTubers to play the game and talk about its strengths and weaknesses. Who knows? Maybe someday we’ll all be singing the theme song to the Draconius anime and collecting Draconius cards. But probably not.
12 Pixelmon Go
Take a little Minecraft, add a little Pokemon and you’ve got something that unsuspecting children will be all over. Despite its title, this app has no relation to the popular Minecraft mod Pixelmon. Instead, it features gameplay that can generously be described as a gutted version of Pokémon Go. They took the core gameplay innovation of Pokémon Go (as in, actually going outside and exploring) and stripped it away.
11 Go Catch Em All! - Hungry Monster.IO World Chasing Color Dots
Yes, that is the actual title. This ripoff became infamous when it released in places that Pokémon Go hadn’t yet. So many people were fooled into downloading this that it shot up to the top of the App Store charts in some countries. No wonder, since the App Store page features screenshots taken directly from Pokémon Go. The game is just Agar.io with Pokémon faces, which again, is copyrighted content.
10 City Spirits Go
China banned Pokémon Go. Instead, they created a game that functions very similar to Pokémon Go in that players track down strange and powerful creatures to capture and make part of their team to capture stronger creatures. It lacks the augmented reality features Pokémon Go has, but still uses GPS tracking and walking to find new creatures.
9 Know Moscow
Know Moscow is Russia’s response to Pokémon Go and is apparently awful. Players are tasked with tracking down important Russian historical figures like Ivan the Terrible or Rasputin to learn more about Russia’s rich history... and that’s kind of all there is to it. Talk about snoozefest! They should at least have the historical figures battle each other.
8 Follow JC Go
The Catholic Church is one of the oldest institutions in the world, and recently, there’s been a concerted attempt to reach Generation Z. That’s where Follow JC Go comes in. Players are tasked with tracking down and collecting various Catholic saints to add to their spiritual roster as they roam around town.
7 Orna RPG
Sort of like a geo-Zelda meets Final Fantasy, Orna RPG borrows a lot from Pokémon Go while using it in unique ways. Orna RPG steps away from the concept of catching monsters to build a powerful fighting team. After creating a hero, players can now wander the real world looking for monsters to battle or items to collect to improve their hero's strength and abilities.
6 Zombies, Run!
Zombies, Run! is arguably one of the most developed and intense augmented reality games. To get started, players start jogging or running anywhere in the world. At any moment, around any corner, zombies could attack. You'll receive missions over the headphones, and there is a wealth of them to complete. This gives the game a bit more depth than just “run really fast and don’t get eaten.” It's awesome!
The Snatch app was dubbed the 'Pokémon Go for brands' as it used a player's location paired with AR to transform their surroundings into an interactive playground. Players travel around through a real map to find parcels. If they can hold onto it for long enough without it being stolen, it can be opened to claim real prizes from one of the app's partners. Still a Pokémon clone though.
4 Harry Potter Wizards Unite
Niantic’s newest mobile title, Harry Potter Wizards Unite is essentially a carbon copy of Pokemon GO but with different names for things. Instead of catching Pokemon, you’re using spells to collect strange objects and characters from the magical universe of Harry Potter. Discovering and “catching” things was never a big part of the Harry Potter universe so it makes little sense to create a mobile game like Pokemon GO!
3 Pokeball Coach
In China, a developer has created what appears to be some kind of Pokemon Go ball throwing practice game. Looking at the screenshots, it doesn't look like they bothered to try and hide the fact that this is clearly Pokemon-related. However, it isn’t an exact clone, instead, this app is more of a practice app for learning to toss Pokeballs in a straight line.
2 The Walking Dead: Our World
The main difference between The Walking Dead: Our World and the rest of the location-based games is that it’s not about collecting things - it’s about killing them. Instead of cute critters or towering dinosaurs, there are undead walkers. This darker tone doesn’t necessarily make you want to go outside and explore though - it’s not like there are rare zombies to collect if you go to the right place.
1 Hunt Monster Go
Developer Catch Ball Mobile Games has gone to the effort of piecing together individual parts of other Pokemon to create horrific Frankenstein’s monsters, the kinds of which would make Team Rocket cringe. How about a Cyndaquil with Meowth’s tail and eyes? It's actually quite funny, just remember; you can’t unsee this stuff.
Sources: IGN, Softronic, The Verge, MMO Games.