Red Bouncing Ball bounces on top of the App Store, raises suspicions of bot-farming and spamming its way to success
As Flappy Bird reigns supreme in theApp Store's Top Free Games chart,a new contender wants to crown the Top Paid Games chart. Meet RedBouncing Ball - an iPhone game so harmless and devoid of substancethat even a baby would be embarrassed of playing it.Yet, it somehow escalated to the number one spot in the App Storeovernight. Right now, its at the third place.
The so-called "game" is,literally, a $10 template for the game-making platform GameSalad,meant to illustrate a simple concept. It hasn't been tampered with inany way as to make it resemble something worthwhile. Some “developer”who represents himself as Louis Leidenfrost simply bought thetemplate, stuck a $0.99 price tag on it, and went on to conquer theApp Store. How?
Given the qualities of Red BouncingBall, its success is most certainly owed to "gaming" theApp Store's ranking algorithms. There is a pretty steady businessrevolving around pushing apps to the top, either with bots or humans.An app developer could enter a scheme in which one, or manyindividuals purchase many copies of his game or app. As the App Storesimply registers the rising number of downloads and transactionswithout having the means to recognize artificial and organic traffic,it pushes the app to the top.
Most of the money the developer spendson this "black-hat" investment in popularity isre-acquired, after Apple takes its 30% cut and gives back the rest asprofit. The resulting increase in exposure is supposed to bringtop-level profits at the very best, or at the very least, help thedeveloper recover the cash spent on "playing" the system.The same methodology can be applied with bots.
In fact, there are bot-farmingcompanies that specialize in such wetwork. The developer pays anegotiated sum, the bots buy an according number of copies from theApp Store, and the resulting money exchange goes three ways - Appletakes 30%, the company takes its cut, and the developer gets the restwhile benefiting from the increased visibility of the product.
The most famous such business isGTekna, which explains its services in an-email sent to a prospectiveclient as follows:
If you want to try Red Ball for somereason, head to the App Store and look for it in the Top Paid gamessection. We felt the game wasn't worth linking to, and taking a lookat the screenshots is enough to explain why.