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Attack of the Flappy Bird Clones

FEBRUARY 10, 2014, 6:02 PM  2 Comments

Attack of the Flappy Bird Clones

By NICK BILTON

Legend has it that Pablo Picasso once said, “Good artists borrow, great artists steal.”

In the case of Flappy Bird, the highly popular game that vanished from the Apple App Store over the weekend, it seems a lot of people are stealing.

On the website Elance, which is a listings site for freelancer technologists, several dozen job listings asked for programmers to build Flappy Bird-like clone apps for the Apple’s iOS and the Android mobile platforms.

Under a listing for an iOS Game Developer

, the job requirementsstate a developer “will be responsible for the full development of relatively simple games, with similar complexity to ‘Flappy Birds.’ ”

An app listing for an Android developer asked for someone who can “create a very simple game similar to Flappy Bird, but using a very popular Copyrighted character owned by us.” It was not clear which character would be used instead of a flapping bird. The ad said it would pay the developer from $500 to $1,000 to make the game.

Some other listings are pretty blunt about stealing rather than borrowing. One ad titled, “flappy bird clone with Ads,” said it needed a developer to make a simple “clone with PhoneGap for ‘Flappy Bird’ Game and integrate Ads.” The pay for the clone was “less than $500.”

There are several clones that are already available in the iOS and Android app stores, including Fly Birdie, Flappy Bee, Flappy Plane and Ironpants, which are all remarkably similar in design and gameplay, but use other characters instead of the Flappy Bird bird.

Flappy Bird rose to the top of the most-downloaded-app charts for Apple and Android mobile devices during the past few weeks. As my colleague Nick Wingfield wrote on Sunday, the app’s creator, Dong Nguyen, is an independent developer in Vietnam. He became an overnight sensation in the mobile app world because of the success of his games.

From a financial standpoint, it makes sense that so many people are frantically trying to copy Flappy Bird. Mr. Nguyen told The Verge last week that he was making, on average, $50,000 a day from the advertisements shown inside the game.

Apparently overcome with all the attention, Mr. Nguyen pulled the app from the app store, stating on Twitter, “I cannot take this anymore.” Before pulling the app from the store, Mr. Nguyen tweeted: “I also don’t sell ‘Flappy Bird,’ please don’t ask.”

It might not matter how good these clones become. The key could be how well they promote them.

Over the weekend, a number of tech sites claimed that Mr. Nguyen had gamed the iOS App Store in order to bump up its ratings, which helped it gain attention in recent months. They accused him of doing it by using bots to write thousands of positive fake reviews of Flappy Bird.

That goes against earlier statements made by Mr. Nguyen, who said in a recent interview with Chocolate Labs Apps, a game developersite, that Flappy Bird had become popular organically. “I didn’t use any promotion methods,” he said. “All accounts on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram about Flappy Bird are not mine. The popularity could be my luck.”

There are already free versions of Flappy Birds available online, usually surrounded by advertisements. Rather than tap the screen repeatedly to move the bird along, users frantically press the space bird to flap its wings.

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About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (www.heroinnovator.com), the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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