A fake version of Cuphead found its way onto the iOS App Store today. Apparently the scam app was so convincing that one mobile game website was fooled into thinking it was a genuine mobile version of the game.
TouchArcade first reported on a mobile version of Cuphead that apparently surprise released on the iOS App Store this morning. Later, the site issued a follow-up report urging readers not to download the Cuphead mobile game as it was revealed to be a fake. As it turns out, the Cuphead iOS scam wasn't your standard iOS knockoff.
Images from TouchArcade.
As TouchArcade later detailed in a follow-up report, the Cuphead scam had a few key differences from other fake iOS imitations that allowed the game to bypass the usual red flags of other mobile forgeries. For example, whereas a lazy imitation game on mobile can usually be spotted by its file size—which will usually be a fraction of the size of the full game—the fake Cuphead game clocked in at 1.9GB. It was a reasonable file size for a mobile port.
Other telltale signs were cleverly disguised as well including a wellmade app icon and an animated video trailer that accompanied the app page. Even the listed website, "studiomdhrgames.com", is just a stone's throw away from the real site, "studiomdhr.com". For a while the fake site even hosted a mirrored version of the real site.
And once the app page fooled discerning eyes, the fake game itself turned out to be fairly functional as well. The playable scam featured complete cutscenes, a working virtual control scheme, and other working additions, albeit at lower quality upon a closer glance. As the site notes, this fake game is almost so real it's scary.
There is a Cuphead imposter app on the iOS store -- this is a scam. We are working on removing the fraudulent app ASAP!— Studio MDHR (@StudioMDHR) December 18, 2017
Apple pulled the fake game after the real Studio MDHR contacted Apple about the fake app. The original developers also issued a warning on Twitter to its followers urging them to stay away from the fake app.
Apple has been criticized in the past for allowing fake versions of real games slip the app store. When customers spend real money on fake products online, it reflects poorly on both the Apple app ecosystem and the original developers who don't want poor imitations being sold to customers under the guise of legitimacy.
The Cuphead forgery shows that these imitations are becoming more sophisticated so as to bypass Apple's anti-fraud measures. At some point, these forgers are probably better off releasing their own original games to the App store, though that undercuts the whole criminal enterprise thing.