Mobile gaming is no stranger to the phenomena of sudden and unexplained spikes of popularity, and few have turned more heads in recent memory than Flappy Bird. Having reached what could easily be likened to critical mass, the powers-that-be have gone into 'damage control' mode.
Ir seems to be mobile gaming's tendency to fall in love with birds and bird-related content, meaning Flappy Bird has completely taken over Apple's App Store and the Google Play Store over the past weeks, despite its removal from the services. In an attempt to control the obscene number of incoming apps attempting to capitalize on its success, both Apple and Google have begun nipping newly-submitted clones bearing the name "Flappy" in the bud.
On the Apple side of things, the rejections are due to the fact that these incoming submissions "leverage a popular app" whereas Google is simply tagging them as "spam" before rejecting them. As of yet, games that are at the submission phase are the only ones affected by the purge. Apps that already exist on both these stores like the memorable Flappy Fish and the completely original Flappy Craft, have yet to be affected.
The developers of these games are unsurprisingly not happy with Apple and Google's recent actions. According to TechCrunch, Ken Carpenter was faced with this issue on both the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store when his game Flappy Dragon was rejected, taking his frustration to Twitter, claiming:
This is just not my f**king week: Rejected. "We found your app name attempts to leverage a popular app." Which app? FB doesn't exist!
As this is new ground for Apple and Google to cover with clones having been widely available on their services in the past, developers such as Carpenter are crying foul, feeling as though they have as much right to the online space as the original Flappy Bird. If a line is indeed being drawn by Apple and Google, it begs the question of where exactly that line sits.
Copycats have existed on the various mobile app stores since their inception, so what is it that makes the Flappy Bird phenomenon any different? While there are endless amounts of Minecraft and Angry Birds clones, it seems to have taken Flappy Bird to push the companies into setting a precedent. If this is indeed the case, then gamers could very well see some major changes to the way content is consumed in the mobile marketplace.
Whether it still holds a comfortable spot on people's home screens or they're paying exorbitant fees to get a phone that has it installed, the Flappy Bird phenomenon still seems to have quite a bit of steam left. How long then, will it be before something new breaks into the mobile gaming scene and takes the place of this pixelated bird? Until that point, the number of people submitting Flappy Bird clones will no doubt remain steady.
For those that don't find frustratingly-imprecise birds to their liking though, there are still many better endless runner alternatives to be found on the mobile marketplace that will make the wait that much easier to swallow. What do you think of Google and Apple's decision? Is it nice to see distributors stepping in to protect IP, or should that be left up to publishers?
Follow Ryan on Twitter @ThatRyanB.