App Store Madness Continues As New Terrible Game Tops Charts

App Store Madness Continues As New Terrible Game Tops Charts

While some are still trying to come to terms with just how Flappy Bird got to the top of the App Store charts, another game has come along that will make you wonder just what the hell is going on.

Right now, the #2 paid app (#1 paid game) on Apple's App Store is a game called Red Bouncing Ball Spikes.

It is, for want of a more eloquent term, a piece of shit.

Built using a $10 template available from Game Salad, a service for people who want some help making mobile games, it's poorly-rendered, breaks on some phones and lacks Game Center support. It lies about its length, promising "over 100 different long levels", while actually delivering around 30. Its first update had to add a menu button, because the original release forgot to.

When Flappy Bird first came out of nowhere, it was accused of having used bots to inflate its download count, propelling it up the charts (and thus in front of more eyeballs, making more money).

The fact so many are enjoying Flappy Bird - and that despite its creative borrowings, it's at least relatively polished - has relegated that theory to the background, as has the fact it's a free game.

But Red Bouncing Ball Spikes is a $0.99 download.

So just who is downloading this crap, and where is the money coming from? The developer - listed as Louis Leidenfrost - has no other presence on the App Store. This game has had no marketing. It's not on Game Center. "Louis" has no contact info listed, and his support section redirects to the fake URL

UPDATE: Gamasutra points to some sleuthing that suggests that "Louis" may actually be Mateen Pekan, a figure accused of being quite the scammer.

App Store Madness Continues As New Terrible Game Tops Charts

User reviews are just as fishy. While it has an overall rating of three stars, that's mostly split between 1-star reviews warning people away and suspicious five-star ratings.

Red Bouncing Ball Spike's App Store webpage, for example, only shows three full reviews from people like "ilovethisapp193903", who proclaim:

This game is the best game of 2014 in my opinion, it brings simplicity to a good place. It is very fun, engaging, and I can't stop playing. please make more apps! Fantastic job! 5 stars! I recommend this to all people. Best 99 cents I've ever spent.

It may not sound like a big deal, but for people making mobile games for a living, it is. The App Store is the only visibility these games get. It's Gamestop, Amazon, eBay and Walmart rolled into one. Games at the top of the charts enjoy a snowball effect; they're the games people see when they visit the store, so they're ones that are downloaded the most.

I'm not sure what we're looking at here. It could be fraud. It could be performance art. It could be trolling. It could be all three at once. Whichever it is, it's starting to look possible that people have found a real, effective way to game Apple's (and Google's) App Store charts for financial gain, something both companies are going to need to take a look at.


    this post I placed in Facebook in relation to Candy Crash Saga some time back:
    << >>
    .. which was also showing number 1 for a loooong time.. and its a cheating game that deliberately wants you to be on the loosing side so u can keep asking Facebook help or adding $$ to it.. its one of the truly annoying facts - where convenience junkies have now made FB and games into one... Games such as red bouncing ball spikes or flappy bird is nothing else than an attempt to create trends for possible games coming ahead in the app store and trying to build bullshit momentum.. however it doesn't change the fact that all app store games hold great potential for future but its a baby niche that is already heading a terribly wrong direction.

    Last edited 08/02/14 12:26 pm

    Maybe it's one of those things that are so bad that people think it must be a satire on badness and buy it thinking they're being witty and satirical.

    Video Game Crash of 83 - it's coming to smartphones - in a year or two the chumps who've invested heavily in mobile (err EA) will see their profits evaporate once governments catch up with the micro transaction bonanza

      Can't wait. I was having a look at the app store earlier and gave up because most of the games (both free and paid) were crap. The only few decent ones were the Final Fantasy games, but I wouldn't be surprised if some wanker decided to add micro-transactions and ads to those just for the hell of it (got to get a slice of that pie before they screw everything up).

    I need to get my simple game (that I've put effort into) done already!

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