Smartphone users and gamers alike are clamoring for a new way to play the popular mobile game sensation Flappy Bird after its developer pulled it from the App Store and Google Play markets.
The game became a frustrating phenomenon for its Vietnamese developer, Dong Nguyen, after the game became a worldwide sensation before it was taken down on February 9. He called the game “too addictive”, saying his intent was not for the game to be as time-consuming and irritating to players as it was. In addition, Nguyen was making as much as $50,000 per day in advertising revenue from the game, adding more suspicion as to his reasons for pulling the game. Critics of the move accused him of attempting to drum up publicity for future games, but Nguyen holds firm with his original reasons. Many considered the game’s demise as a strange outcome for such a successful venture.
Flappy Bird players described their misery in postings across its App Store listing, in blogs, and in newspaper articles lamenting their inability to beat their previous high scores. One reviewer makes a heartfelt confession in an App Store review: “I would, in a heartbeat, sell my soul to Satan just to have never downloaded this app.” Desperate for the game, some players have tried to buy iPhones sold on eBay that still have the app downloaded. iPhone users saw an unusual niche for their now highly valued phones, listing them on eBay auctions that reached nearly $100,000 before eBay took them down. eBay claims that it is a violation of Apple policy to sell used iPhones with apps that were not factory standard.
Other game developers have capitalized on the craze, creating alternatives such as Flappy Bee, Clumsy Bird, and Splashy Fish, which all nearly topped Apple and Google’s game charts this week. Malware-infected versions have also made their way into the Google Play store, as well as some overseas app markets. The malware versions exploit consumers’ phone numbers and email addresses, as well as running up cell phone bills by hijacking a user’s phone number and using it to call numbers that would charge users a hefty sum.