You may have already heard about the disappearance of popular mobile game Flappy Bird from app stores. Developer Dong Nguyen decided to remove his hit title due to the fact that “it had become an addictive product”. But it was this addictive game format that earned him around $50,000 daily from ad revenues alone. It’s hardly surprising then that other companies and individuals decided that they wanted a slice of the Flappy Bird pie too.
“Very often we get requests to clone some of the existing famous products,” said Alexey Kholodenke, a developer from a Ukrainian app business. “We do have an understanding that it is very risky to develop a 100 per cent clone.A huge volume of job adverts seeking capable developers to create Flappy Bird rip-offs popped up all over the internet. Many are now hoping to get rich quick from the trend of app cloning, also known as “app flipping”, which involves re-skinning different themed apps and flooding the market with different versions.
“I know that lots of developers are making 100 per cent clones (just changing the graphics, not the content) and making money on the games…We’ve built a lot of such games during the last years for third party customers, and they made some earnings on them.”
In Flappy Bird’s case the number of imitations are numerous, including top App Store titles such as Splashy Fish – The Adventure of a Flappy Tiny Bird, Fly Birdie – Flappy Bird Flyer and City Bird – Flappy Flyer. Some of these are also adding in-game purchases to further boost the earnings made from these clones.
Faced with floods of complaints and criticism, both Apple’s App Store and Google Play have put a stop to this. Same or similar game releases are nothing new. Angry Birds ‘inspired’ a vast array of catapulting games and if you check the selection of games at Platinum Play or other casino sites you will see the same titles available across the board.
However, the Flappy Bird epidemic is different. Although some were bona fide clones, many others infringed on trademarks and even hid malicious malware that collected information from users and subjected them to charges.
To protect users, neither Apple nor Google will approve any further app games with the word “Flappy” in its title. The bubble has burst for opportunist developers who have now seen their products rejected as “spam”. But this doesn’t necessarily spell the end of the Flappy Bird clones, as the apps that managed to nudge their way onto the market prior to the ban will be flapping their way towards profits for a while longer.