Apple to Flappy Bird ripoffs: No thanks

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In a previous post, we reported on the short and turbulent app life of Flappy Bird, a game whose massive popularity was quickly overshadowed by user complaints about its extreme difficulty. The app was developed by independent game designer Dong Nguyen, and, according to CNET, was bringing in around $50,000 in ad sales a day when Nguyen decided to permanently remove it from the App store. “I cannot take this anymore,” he tweeted to his followers, likely referring to the wave of negative publicity spawned by the game's enraging level of difficulty. But if the actual life of Flappy Birds was short, its legacy looks to be a long one.

A league of copycats
All good things are inevitably followed by a long line of bad things. This principle explains the phenomenon of 10-part action movie franchises, and it also explains why Apple is now faced with a management nightmare as its already massive app store is being packed to the brim with “Flappy”-inspired apps, according to CNET. And so it's taking drastic measures to ensure such fakers never see the light of day by systematically purging all apps with “Flappy” in the title.

That's a lesson game designer Ken Carpenter learned the hard way when he received a note from Apply telling him his new game had been rejected, according to TechCrunch. The note referred Carpenter to section 22.2 of its App Store Guidelines, where it is stipulated that, “Apps that contain false, fraudulent or misleading representations will be rejected.” On these grounds, Apple found that Carpenter's game tried to “leverage a popular app,” which would fit under the “misleading” category.

Carpenter took to Twitter to vent his frustrations. “This is just not my … week,” he tweeted. Why would his game have fallen victim to Apple's wrath? Really, what was all that bad about “Flappy Dragon”?

Flappy fliers flitter
But despite reports across the tech sphere that Apple is pulling no punches in eliminating all things Flappy, it appears some stringers-on haven't gotten the ax quite yet. As of the afternoon of Feb. 18, “Flappy Pig” – a game that asks prospective players “Who wants to fly a bird when you can fly a pig… with a mustache?!” – is still making the rounds. And “City Bird – Flappy Flyer” shows no sign of slowing down after a Feb. 11 debut that has since accumulated almost 2,000 ratings on the App Store. And this game appears to be inspiring the same faux vitriol as its famous predecessor, with user “ShoopDaddy” complaining that the game “makes me wanna throw my phone across the room.” The title of his review? “Luv it!” 

But these are seemingly unique cases, since the vast majority of Flappy games will now never see the light of day. As TechCrunch pointed out, all the different outgrowths of the popular game are not only polluting the App store, but leading to customer confusion. For his part, rejected game designer Ken Carpenter will not be silenced. In a flurry of tweets since his “Flappy Dragons” was turned down, Carpenter has been unloading on the App store, pointing out that many games currently topping the charts are clearly inspired by other games. In the hope of reversing Apple's decision, Carpenter released the game under a different title: “Derpy Dragon.”

The fact that all these “Flappy” games are (intentionally or not) maddening by design means they pose a legitimate threat to phone safety. For instance, if you found yourself Flapping away and in a fit of rage threw your iPhone to the ground, then you've landed squarely in the market for an iPhone screen replacement.

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