In the mainstream games industry, making clones of existing games is a sure-fire way to make your offerings mediocre, resulting in poor reviews and horrible sales. In casual games, however, cloning a successful game means that you can also be successful.
Weird? I think so. Then again, I don’t spend much time on casual game portals. I’m not familiar with what millions of people are playing in terms of casual games. Perhaps people loved Bejeweled so much that they wanted to play the Bejeweled clones as well. Would a Professor Fizzwizzle clone do as well as the original? Apparently so, especially if you find an audience that never heard of the original game.
If it is the case that you can be financially rewarded for simply engineering the same exact game that your competitors are making, what does it say about the importance of innovation? If the customers don’t care, then the only incentive is for the indie to be proud of making innovative games on principle.
No, principles don’t pay the bills, but there are a lot of moral choices that people make simply because it is the right thing to do and not because there is something in it for them.