Flappy Bird’s Smoke & Mirrors – Is Something Fishy Going On?

by Carter Thomas

Using Bots For App Store Rankings

In the past few years, I have seen people go under the radar and use bots (fake accounts run by computers to artificially create downloads/ranks and reviews). It behaves very strangely and accounts for seeing apps skyrocket to the top of the chart with no real explanation.

Looking at some of the top apps in the store by Dong Nguyen, I hate to say it, but it looks really similar to bot activity. Of course, I can’t prove this and there are strong cases for lots of different potential growth strategies, but I do want to bring this up to engage a discussion and get industry leaders to weigh in with some analysis so that we can find out how this happened.

It’s the first time in the app store that I’ve ever seen this and, if it turns out that it’s just a wildly viral game like Gangnam Style, my hat is off to Mr. Nguyen and I wish him the very best of luck and success.

But….things still look weird.

First – these are the apps in question: https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/dong-nguyen/id636374342

Second – check the screenshots below to show his rankings.

don

flappybirds

don2

 

Impressive, right? It looks like in December/January the app gods shined their lights down on Dong Nguyen and said “YES YOU ARE WORTHY” and completely changed Apple’s algorithm to catapult him to the top of the charts. What a miracle it is!!

Typically, if I ever saw any rank insanity like this I would assume that there was traffic buying going on. This happens all the time and makes sense. This happens to indie developers as well when they release a game that hits.

BUT.

When you release games in MAY (Shuriken Block) and JUNE (Flappy Birds) that have a non-existant launch, then magically lift off 6 months later, it looks weird. Especially when your other games coincidentally all do so at the exact same time as well.

No cross promotions so the top game isn’t directly lifting the other apps. As said in a recent interview, Nguyen claims he did zero promoting of this app and was just really lucky. People just want really simple, stupid apps. Right?

Get real.

Check the Reviews

Here’s another nice little tidbit. Read through the reviews. Check the word count. Do an analysis on how many times the word “glitch” “pipe” “addicting” are used relative to the review length. Also check how many negative reviews give 5 stars.

Here’s a quick snapshot from a 3 minute scroll through Flappy Bird’s reviews.

reviews

I don’t think there is any app on the app store that has this many consistently morbid reviews that use the same words over and over and are posted in such regularity. If I am wrong, please let me know and we’ll start a petition for Apple to stop approving such life destroying apps.

I Smell Something Fishy

I’ve seen a lot of shady stuff in the app store and this is textbook. For any of you that don’t understand how this works, essentially people will create cloak IP addresses and automate hundreds of thousands of Apple ID accounts on virtual devices that download an app millions of times.

Because chart ranking is primarily driven by download volume, the app goes to the top of the charts. Then it enjoys all the organic volume that that chart position gets. The Apple IDs are then programmed to leave a Review of the app (4 or 5 stars) and can create copy using powerful automated programs.

I am very much against this sort of marketing and I hope that this ends up not being true. One saving grace (if he did, in fact use bots) is knowing that he’s using AdMob banners and nothing else to monetize, meaning he left about $1M on the table this past week.

Oops.

 

What do you think? Is this guy legit? Leave a comment below or ping me on Twitter.

Tyler Kessler January 31, 2014 at 9:19 pm

Carter, nice speedy investigative work on this one! You totally backed up my intuition with rational data. I know we can’t prove it was gamed or not (as of today), but you make one hell of a case for it, and this is why you are the smartest guy in the game.

Kevin January 31, 2014 at 9:28 pm

So glad I’m not the only who thought this looked suspicious, those reviews are….well …. O_0

Carter Thomas January 31, 2014 at 9:28 pm

@Tyler – Yeah man, something is up. Hard to do a pull of review data out of an app listing, but it is so whack. I can’t get over the fact that two of them were launched mid 2013 then take off out of nowhere? If there was some reason, you’d think he’d mention it. Also weird that he refuses to interview with VentureBeat or anyone else except Elaine, although Elaine is clearly is best one to be working with :)

Faith January 31, 2014 at 9:51 pm

What about all the YouTube, Vines, and Tweets about Flappy Bird? However he did it, the dumb game definitely has an audience whether there are fake downloads and reviews going on or not. Personally, I’d like to dream that this kind of success is still obtainable to a small indie dev like me.

Tyler Kessler January 31, 2014 at 9:56 pm

@Carter So I monitor Twitter searches daily, specifically around appstore reviews, and saw EVERYONE talking about these reviews when I woke up this morning…everyone saying how ridiculous they were. That’s when I first noticed something fishy about flappy.

I just told Elaine on Facebook to follow up with him ASAP and ask him the hard questions before he reads your article. If she can pull it off, she would have a viral hit, like your post will probably be.

I can’t believe there are no safe guards internally at Apple to pause reviews once they flood in like that. The most disappointing thing about this story, if it ends up being true, is how this inspirational story about the little indie dev hitting it big was a load of crap.

Jesse January 31, 2014 at 9:56 pm

Yeah Carter this guy is an artist that tried to get my business, when I saw his game jump which my son said all his friends are playing it I shit on myself, it is a horrible game that does nothing for the anyone. I am really pissed. I have been doing this now 3 yrs and I barely make any thing stick so to see this stupid game go this high sucks, and yes he did leave a shit load of money on the table he could have racked up and got out…. and started over under a new id… stupid ass guy

Nathan January 31, 2014 at 10:05 pm

He likely does have a good viral marketing thing going on. Unfortunately, it is probably very black hat. He could be scamming Twitter, YouTube, and Vine as well.

Jay January 31, 2014 at 10:23 pm

Funny. As I’m reading this article, my son says something about playing flappy birds. lol. I said “You really like that game?” He said “Yea, It’s awesome.” ???

Carter Thomas January 31, 2014 at 10:35 pm

@Jay – But what about his other games? That’s what kills me – the other two top 10 games. No one plays them, no one talks about them on social networks, no one really likes them. Yet they are top 10? I dont think I know any brand that has that kind of organic cross promotion (he doesnt cross promote in Flappy Birds).

Jack January 31, 2014 at 10:46 pm

Carter, what do you think is happening with another app, top 5- Guess The 90′s? The number of reviews (only in the 400′s) are not lining up with how many downloads it is getting.

Carter Thomas January 31, 2014 at 10:47 pm

@Jack – sometimes reviews can lag behind real time download volume. That’s just an Apple thing. Rating volume/velocity is super hard to gauge on a day by day basis since it’s not real time.

Ash January 31, 2014 at 10:48 pm

Carter – YOU NAILED IT! I JUST heard about this app from Elaine’s site and immediately checked out the reviews and they are absolutely not legit! It’s very obvious they’re paid/bots.

Rod January 31, 2014 at 10:48 pm

May be time for Apple to introduce Captcha authentication for reviews.

Dan January 31, 2014 at 10:48 pm

Carter, Trey, Angela – I am a long time fan of yours but you’re missing big time on this one I think. People do actually love this game, and it’s viral. Everybody is talking about it right now, especially kids. As to the cross promotion – there is a huge CROSS PROMOTION. Open the game on the App Store and click on the button “Related” on the right to the “Reviews” button. That’s how two other games got picked up. I downloaded them exactly that way when they were not in the charts. And I do think guys at Apple are clever. They are loosing a lot of money right now, because these games are not monetizing for them and occupy the top spots. They have obviously already checked all the bots stuff, etc. and they would have taken all them down to clear the space for the games that actually make money for them and not for admob.

Carter Thomas January 31, 2014 at 10:54 pm

@Dan – I don’t see a Related button, just the Rate. And with the millions of people playing Candy Crush Saga, why aren’t their other titles as popular? Why can’t other top games bring up their partner apps? Is this viral loop just that superior?

You didn’t address the question about reviews – you think those are all legit, from real people who sat down and wrote those entire paragraphs about how the game made them want to kill themselves?

And to be honest man, you have WAY too much faith that Apple knows more than hackers do. Bots are alive and well, people use them all the time.

Jack January 31, 2014 at 10:57 pm

Carter,
Did you see Ironpants? Same exact game. #61 top free.

Ash January 31, 2014 at 11:01 pm

So Carter: This means it’s easy for anyone to do this. What’s there to say that Candy Crush, Clash of Clans, all those big games don’t do this. There’s no way any of us can win. I really don’t think the big guys are doing everything 100% legit either.

Carter Thomas January 31, 2014 at 11:03 pm

@Jack – interesting. Obviously a clone of Flappy Bird and was popular right out of the gate. My guess is that it’s riding the success of that design.

Justin January 31, 2014 at 11:03 pm

I’m in the middle on this one. Do a search for “flappy bird reviews” on Twitter, and it’s actually a massive trend for people/kids to write gigantic comments about how the game is ruining their lives. That part is legitimately viral and explains why so many are the same. People plagiarize, and everyone’s trying to have the funniest review.

But like you mentioned, cross-promotion just doesn’t seem there… and still seems fishy. So I don’t know. It’s a curious one.

Ash January 31, 2014 at 11:10 pm

must have started with twitter bots and then went viral as the app was hitting #1..then people must have started tweeting as well as rating it from the rate button in the app….

Dan January 31, 2014 at 11:11 pm

@Carter the “Related” button is not inside the game itself; it’s on the Flappy Bird page in the App Store – Details – Reviews – Related. That’s how I downloaded the other two games before they got into the charts.

The funny thing is yes, I do think that reviews are legit. People are just tired of the current App Store — big and small re-skins. Sometimes, you just don’t want to play a complex game, but just want to get a break to “clear” your mind. I know that people don’t usually leave long reviews, in fact, I’ve noticed recently (last year I’d say) that people really leave reviews anymore. I think this is a virality of the game that caused all those long reviews. And the game is kind of love it or hate it game that is causing all this long reviews.

If you search for Flappy Bird on youtube. You will see that a lot of people are saying exact same things (5 min and longer) about how the game is ruining their live. They are all real teens and kids, not bots. And they all repeat exactly that stuff — that they hate the game, but keep coming back to play, and it’s ruining their lives.

I know that bots are live, but I do think, if I were a guy at Apple I would investigate the game, since it’s just not making money for Apple (free and no IAPs), and would find the way to take it down and track the boats.

You’ve taught me a lot on your blog during the last two years, but on this I disagree, since I do really like the game myself. I am just tired of King’s, Zynga’s and all that big re-skinned crap occupying the top charts, and it’s good to see something different. And I do play the game from time to time.

Carter Thomas January 31, 2014 at 11:17 pm

@Dan – Fair enough man. I respect your opinion. I obviously have no proof so I guess we’ll see how things shake out.

@Ash – Yeah. I am not a conspiracy guy but part of me can’t deny that on some level, it would be the most epic move in history if this guy architected an entire viral loop using multiple social networks like this. I really can’t imagine that is what’s happening, but if it is, that is SO gangster.

mike January 31, 2014 at 11:23 pm

I think you nailed it.

Props to calling this guy out on using cheat tactics and gaming the system to up his ranks in the charts.
Sometimes the high ranking after a release can occur- because that happened with my game – My Virtual Girlfriend. It was released in March of 2010 but didn’t rank up until Dec of 2010, (8 months or so later) The reason being was because it went through several iterations and the final iteration we had put a significant amount of work into it- and it eventually caught the attention of the press (kotaku, msnbc, discover, etc.) So it can happen late- but The thing that really gives this guy away is that it’s happening across all his apps, which is highly unlikely.

I’ve had a couple companies solicit me in the past with offers to rank up my games using bots, these companies seem to be originating from Korea. I don’t know why but it seems the bot companies are based out of there. Of course i decline the offers when i get them, but i wanted to mention that they do exist and that they do target indie developers.

Kevin February 1, 2014 at 12:40 am

Agree with Carter, after searching on twitter a bit ( just search Flappy Bird Review ) there’s a massive, I mean massive trend – infact if he’s actually pulled this off intentionally, then he should go top of the App God Podium – Crazy stuff

Ash February 1, 2014 at 12:53 am

110% agree with Mike. Theres a lot …and I mean a LOT of shady stuff happening in the App Store and app world. Ive been mentioning fake reviewsand bots for the longest on different blogs but no one was taking my comments serious. Big gaming companies are doing it but theyre doing it “safely” and subtle so they dont get caught. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Youtube..you can easily buy to have bots follow/like you. And theres a lot more shady stuff thats going on which is happening in India, China, Korea to name a few. I know this because Ive had long chats with a “scammer” and saved some of the convo. I pretended to be on his side so I can get all the info and knowledge about this “underworld.” I was going to write about it and even contacted the media to write about it but I decided not to because everyone will start doing it and I think it will cause more damage than any help. Its SO easy to do. Not just bots but other stuff to make it in the App Store and Google Store. I reported it to Apple several times but they dont give a crap about it.

Ouriel Ohayon February 1, 2014 at 3:23 am

Carter i doubt bots are playing the role you want to attribute them, although there is no proof their were not used at some points.

It is close to impossible that a bot is used when the growth pattern happens in so many stores over a days (and not in 24h/72h burst mode). the app is basically top 5 in nearly every single of the 50 app stores right now including tier 1 and non tier1 countries. No bot system (known on earth) can organize that at this scale and level of sophistication. If the rank was concentrated on a few stores why not. but here this is far from clear.

i also took a look at the reviews in non english speaking countries like France and Spain and reviews in most cases seem legit. although a few are weird. This clearly points to a typical viral pattern by word of mouth. The same that was described above..

Also finally run a search on twitter/tumblr about this game you will find true word of mouth activity happening at scale.

Bottom line: even if bots were used, their role here was minor and true adoption is going on.

For those interested here is a simple graphic of the position of the app right now. https://cloudup.com/cEpWikXy1FK

Ouriel
Appsfire.com

MO February 1, 2014 at 3:33 am

People are DEFINITELY talking about these games on social media. The sharing per minute is ridonculous. Not claiming to know everything going on, but you certainly cannot say people are not playing the games

Watch these twitter streams for 10-15 minutes and then tell me I’m wrong

https://twitter.com/search?q=shuriken%20block&src=typd&f=realtime
https://twitter.com/search?q=super%20ball%20juggling&src=typd&f=realtime

Seems almost as if noone bothered to look!

MO February 1, 2014 at 3:43 am

@Jesse – not a fair statement at all… just because you think the game is stupid does not mean it does not resonate with users. Clearly it does resonate because they are playing the shit out of this game!

You’re saying horrible game, but it’s not always about making something you like. Rather, what does the customer like?

Apparently the customer likes him some Flap action :)

Charles February 1, 2014 at 3:45 am

Hey Carter.. I think in 99.9999999% of the cases you would be 100% right.. but don’t you think if someone was smart enough to pull this off, he would at least know how to monetize his app better? Just throwing an admob banner is really amateurish. Moreover, if you look at his twitter (https://twitter.com/dongatory), you can follow what he has been writing about.. and it really doesn’t seem like someone who just scammed the store.. Last point is its truly a viral hit.. I live in Thailand and even kids in my daughter’s school are playing it… and so many people are talking about it on Twitter.. I really do think its just a viral crazy similar to Gangnam Style that just is a perfect storm of events that trigger it to become a global craze.. I guess we’ll know the truth in a week or so because if he is up to using bots and fake reviews, apple will surely catch on.

Jason February 1, 2014 at 4:16 am

Hehe, well youngsters do definitely like it, I’m seeing it on Facebook.

Botting could definitely be a possibility, I mean I know twitter bots exist that spam using 1000 threads per second, which is a lot! But, I really do think it has been a stroke of luck. It only takes one person to share it on their social network and for it to go viral. Especially if that one person has a strong say in his community.

Anyway, were targeting the wrong person! What about the people on Gamecenter with 9,999 points! They are the real crooks!

There’s just no way!

Steve Young February 1, 2014 at 4:59 am

Carter, great post. I reached out to Dong 2 weeks ago for an interview. He declined because of his English.

I thought it was a great indie success story, but last night I saw three of his apps in the top 6. Definitely seems fishy.

Samuel February 1, 2014 at 5:34 am

Hey Carter,

I honestly think calling this game “sh tty” is pretty harsh. This game is actually kind of addictive and fun to play. My 10 year old nephew and his friends are determined to get that bird through those pipes! Granted the graphics are not the best and it is real simple to play but I think it’s subjective. Maybe it’s the game play that appeals to a certain gamer.

I did a search on Youtube and there are a lot of people reviewing this game within the past month that are raving about it or complaining that they can’t put it down. I think having people say the game is irritating and annoying on social media is probably fueling some of those downloads. People are naturally curious and want to know what’s so irritating about this game. That was one of the reasons why I downloaded it and I found it to be cool.

And to your point about getting a surge in downloads in Dec/Jan. Isn’t that around the holiday season where people get new iPhones, iPads and download apps like crazy! Maybe he wanted to wait until the holidays and then set off a social media campaign and contest to drive downloads.

If he used bots to get downloads and reviews I would like to know how many uninstalls or removals after the initial download he would have gotten because that would likely affect his rank in the app store wouldn’t you think? Would like to know your thoughts on that.

Also trying to see where you are coming from. Is it that what he did is usually not that obtainable in the app store by indie devs?

Sean Nam February 1, 2014 at 6:00 am

@Samuel
I don’t want to start a huge argument so I’ll just address the last part of your comment.
Look at the top 10, 50, even top 100 of the free, paid, grossing charts for games in the iOS AppStore. Most of them are NOT indie devs. They’re huge companies like Zynga, King, Supercell, EA, etc. Minecraft is probably one of the few exceptions.

The point is it’s hard for everybody to get to the top of the charts but so much more when you don’t have the marketing budget or resources of these huge companies.

Jose Castro-Frenzel February 1, 2014 at 6:02 am

Definitely there with you, I could see Punch Quest or someone like that do it, but agreed looks like some fishy sh*T.

Sam February 1, 2014 at 6:48 am

I personally think if this was possible, it wouldn’t have been the first time. The top spots are controlled by the big companies probably doing some similar shady tactics, so how could an Indie developer go above and beyond this – is another issue all together.

If he did use bots, I’m sure it wouldn’t have been the main cause of his surge – because if it was we would see MANY more situations similar to this one.

I think a majority of the reviews/downloads are from actual people curious on how this game “sucks” so much that they have to try it. There’s no way bots alone could have done this….the game needs traction itself to do anything. If he did find a way to scam the system, I don’t think he would have been the only guy on the planet to do so…..

My 2 cents.

Mark February 1, 2014 at 8:38 am

RIP of app store search algorithm.

Samuel February 1, 2014 at 1:36 pm

@Sean

I guess maybe my understanding of the app store is limited when it comes to looking at the charts for top free and paid apps and how devs are able to manipulate their way to the top. Instead of hating on this dude I would be more interested in learning what he did as an indie dev to get his app up there so we all can possibly learn and implement a similar strategy into our own app marketing.

Muller February 1, 2014 at 2:57 pm

Carter, a bot DL looks way different. And these apps does not clue in the charts.

Markusn February 1, 2014 at 4:58 pm

Hey Carter,

I think you are missing some things with your analysis:
We are at a peak of app store scamming. A lot of things have been tried and are being tried. Bot nets for dl’s and reviews are not new and in fact they are somewhat readily available BUT: only for a boatload of upfront money.
If you read through Dong’s Twitter stream, the guy seems pretty genuine. And definitely not of the rich kid type.
So you would have to go all the way and extend your theory to cover that one guy somehow getting his hand on a massive botnet. And then use it to catapult app up the charts that is lousily monetized? It doesn’t add up.
There is more: Stickiness. You can catapult an app up the free charts. It’s a known number and right now probably somewhere between 15k and 25k. Legal, with advertisement. The illegal ways are not much cheaper. It happens every day. And all those apps, once up, sink like stones within hours. Flappy bird climbed steadily and stuck like glue.
That again would require massive amounts of $ or his own private Mega-Botnet. Again, for a crappy game with lousy monetization?
You know where we saw similar download cycles? With the original Temple Run. Took four months to get any type of traction but then the kids latched on, carried it to Nr. 1 and it was there for months. Imangi by that time did all their pushes already to not much effect, then it went truly viral.
Last, the reviews. It’s a known thing on amazon that reviews in itself can go viral. See Three-Wolves-Moon and Tuscan Milk. Looking at what the kids say on youtube and twitter it seems this is genuine fun for them.
tl;dr: fishy: yes. but if he did it in any fishy way he has more $ than any of the large, venture backed money reeking behemoths out there. or has a larger private botnet than Anonymous. Or found a way nobody has found before. Future will hopefully tell :)

Ash February 1, 2014 at 5:05 pm

So then what about those weird reviews. Who started the weird/angry review contest? Does it say in the app to leave a ridiculous review? Curious to know how that happened.

Ash February 1, 2014 at 5:14 pm

Okay just downloaded the game finally and I’ve got to say, I’m kind of having fun lol. Maybe it’s the hype or the fact that I can’t get more than 3 score! My kids are playing it now and they’re LOVING it. I still think something is weird about the reviews but this game is quite interesting!

Carter Thomas February 1, 2014 at 5:23 pm

@Everyone – all great points and I really appreciate everyone’s contribution. I think what I see are that these games all seem to have a crazy viral loop, but that loop is being supported by something beyond just the game. Social media, the press, and potential other shadier systems are at work to keep all three of these game at the top. Remember, this isn’t just about Flappy Birds – it’s about the fact that all 3 are in the top 6 games.

“Stickiness” is kind of a loose term here – there are TONS of games that have equal or better stickiness than these games. If stickiness was what it’s all about, every game company in the world would be able to push a pretty good game to the top and it would stay there for a while. In fact, Candy Crush has some of the best addiction/retention in the entire app store, yet requires millions of dollars a week just to keep it at the top of the charts.

Maybe this is the dawn of a new era in app store marketing and virality, I don’t know. This blog post was simply an opinion that the chances of this happening are well beyond 1:1,000,000 and I’ve seen enough sketchy shit to know that most success is created in the app store. There just isn’t a way to get three apps to the top 10 unless you have something no one else does (not just money). I suppose Twitter may be that new thing.

If yes, I am buying a ton of Twitter stock on Monday :)

MO February 1, 2014 at 5:31 pm

The more I investigate the more it seems like a Black Swan moment. It’s not the type of thing that can really be planned. The so-called fishy reviews sound exactly like how teens are talking about this game on Twitter, Youtube, Vine, etc. Do some research everyone.

I’m with Charles here… this looks like a Gangnam style-esque phenomenon. Might as well enjoy the wave while it’s here.

And before you call the game sh*tty based on it’s humble appearances, play it a few times, and you will see exactly what it is that is making these teens go crazy and post.

And for whoever thinks it is impossible to reach the top of the app store without a marketing budget, guess what… my game did exactly that last February
techcrunch.com/2013/02/20/nextpeer/

I topped out at #9 in all games and #14 in all apps. To this day I have theories on why it happened, but I really can’t say definitively. Luck absolutely played a role & it’s not something I could hope to replicate without the stars aligning for me once more.

My game did not stick in the charts like Dong’s because the replay value and cult following was not there. The game was more complex, but not nearly as good! Again, I would encourage you to search around the web on various social sites and observe how much and how often people are playing the game before you respond to this. Would also be a good idea to play the game and experience the frustration and strong compulsion loop (I was literally ecstatic when I scored 5)

Hoping to get back to work and stop letting this game ruin my life :)

Cheers!

MO February 1, 2014 at 5:32 pm

All in on TWTR! :)

Carter Thomas February 1, 2014 at 5:50 pm

@Muoyo – Awesome points both on this post and on Facebook. I stand by my comment about how these games suck, but I think it depends on how you define that. If we’re going by “what makes you feel the most anxious when you play” then these games are right on with Snood and other arcade style addictive games. But I also know think that if these games had 3 reviews and were ranked in the top 1000, perception on quality would change. I think that perception is wildly malleable (fine by me), but the quality of games like this is not very high on the 10 star scale.

I suppose “sh*tty apps” is the wrong term and should replaced by “simple, basic, uncomplicated, easy” apps. But then we’d all be screwed because that would mean everyone who does re-skins would now be making……good apps?

That can’t be possible ;)

abc February 1, 2014 at 6:06 pm

Carter you know whats really shitty? Your games. Those that you sold through apptopia. Shitty games with shitty graphics with ads popping all the time, even during the shitty game. Its YOU who scammed the apple appstore with tons of low quality games bombarding users with ads. Looks like someone needs to kick some sense into you.

Carter Thomas February 1, 2014 at 6:11 pm

@Abc – thanks for your well thought out input. Sounds like you’ve got a good head on your shoulders. Good luck getting to D, e, and f with your name.

To February 1, 2014 at 6:49 pm

Hello

i found your site while looking for infos about the game flappy bird which i heard about at jayisgames, a gaming news site. I played the game because of the review on jay’s that stated the game was insanely hard and that is so rare nowaday it’s an immediate call for action among many gamers. My point of view (for what is worth) is that the game is indeed hard and short, the exact kind that you play when you wait for the espresso and show to your friends : hey look, 18 pipes! your turn. Obviously very viral.

My question is more about your article :

you say you can automate hundreds of devices to download the game and game the appstore ranking but it (must) cost money and you say that it made no money using admobs? err

My question is : what monetising strategy would you use if you had a game like that.
thank you

ben February 1, 2014 at 8:09 pm

I’m with Mo and Charles on this one. I think Dong is legit and his game truly just went viral. Even if bots were involved I think it had minimal effect on the stickiness of the game. I found out about this game when I was out of town and my wife texts me and says Why don’t you make a game like flappy bird…She said her and my 4 year old were playing at night and were laughing and having fun playing it. I come home and my teenagers are playing as well comparing their scores. They are deep in social media and said their friends all play as well..They say they first found out about it from my niece who is a social media junkie. The reviews that are coming in question are consistent with what they see on Instagram and Youtube. Instead of hating on this guys hustle I would be trying to replicate what he did here. I know the power of social media and have been trying to market my games through Instagram with a little success. Don’t hate, congratulate….hahah

MO February 1, 2014 at 8:49 pm

@Ben – Agreed! We are all witnesses of Dong! lol

@Carter – Agree that this is the same level (or lower) code complexity of alot of reskins out there. Major difference here is the experience of it. Dong has put a lot of care into how the game feels, from how the buttons fly down into the screen to how the pipes expand and make an old-school sound effect, to how the bird takes a crazy dramatic dive when you inevitably die (very quickly). It’s somehow difficult in a way that is still fun for the player, who wants to prove that they can score better than 5 (at least that’s how I feel, lol)

For the reskins, the focus is generally not on these things, but getting them out the door in significant volume (which makes sense because the strategy is different). Also his decision not to use interstitials ends up being a decent one in a game where you will be dying every 2 seconds. I doubt the game would have spread the way it did with interstitials in there.

Don’t think this type of success will be easily replicated, but it would be good to figure out if social media can be a boon to other lower-ranked apps.

Comments on this entry are closed.

{ 179 trackbacks }

Previous post:

Next post: