Did Flappy Bird Designer Scam The App Store With Bots?

flappybirdThere is a rather funny but interesting kerfuffle going on with the App store and the recent hit game “Flappy Bird” that seems to be a three ring media circus.  Theories abound as to whether or not the game’s designer used bots to artificially inflate the game’s popularity, cause it to go viral, create a media firestorm by threatening to take the game down (which prompted even this non-gaming iPhone user to download it), and then actually taking it down.

Flappy Bird is a recent game for the iPhone and Android that puts a new face on a very familiar game concept – rapid clicking or tapping to keep a small animated bird in flight, avoiding Mario-esque green pipes.  It’s rather challenging and apparently quite addicting.

Media headlines call the game “Inexplicably Popular”, which definitely seems to be the case.  The game is incredibly simple and makes use of classic Nintendo style pixelated graphics (which are in vogue these days anyway, and not unique to this game).  Perhaps the appeal lies in the simplicity of the game as it doesn’t take much to get going, it’s fast paced, and apparently hits the sweet spot of challenging enough to keep you coming back for more.

It’s confusing as to why developer Dong Nguyen has decided to take the game down as it was apparently earning $50,000 per day in advertising revenue.  The reason he gave is that the game is causing too much stress from all the attention.  His Tweet: “I cannot take this anymore.”  He will apparently continue to develop games.

However, many observers sense something fishy going on, and some are claiming that the spikes in the game’s popularity point to the usage of bots in order to boost the game’s rankings.  The writer of that blog post points out that all of his games seemed to spike in popularity at the same time, yet Nguyen claims that he just “got lucky” and that people just wanted really simple games.  Some observers are claiming that taking the game down was just a ploy to gain even more attention.

It’s interesting to see just what falls out from all this: did Nguyen really game the app store?  And how easy is it to do?  Is this really a high tech caper?  Is the Apple App Store forcing him to take it down due to foul play?  It’s all very interesting to say the least.  What do you think?

About the Author

Roger Feinstein has grown up with computers his entire life and strives to help others understand what goes on behind the scenes in their PCs. He's been writing tech articles for websites for over 5 years.

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