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 the App Store's Top Free Games chart, a new contender wants to crown the Top Paid Games chart. Meet Red Bouncing Ball - an iPhone game so harmless and devoid of substance that even a baby would be embarrassed of playing it. Yet, it somehow escalated to the number one spot in the App Store overnight. 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 in any way as to make it resemble something worthwhile. Some “developer” who represents himself as Louis Leidenfrost simply bought the template, stuck a $0.99 price tag on it, and went on to conquer the App Store. How?
Given the qualities of Red Bouncing Ball, its success is most certainly owed to "gaming" the App Store's ranking algorithms. There is a pretty steady business revolving around pushing apps to the top, either with bots or humans. An app developer could enter a scheme in which one, or many individuals purchase many copies of his game or app. As the App Store simply registers the rising number of downloads and transactions without having the means to recognize artificial and organic traffic, it pushes the app to the top.
Most of the money the developer spends on this "black-hat" investment in popularity is re-acquired, after Apple takes its 30% cut and gives back the rest as profit. The resulting increase in exposure is supposed to bring top-level profits at the very best, or at the very least, help the developer recover the cash spent on "playing" the system. The same methodology can be applied with bots.
In fact, there are bot-farming companies that specialize in such wetwork. The developer pays a negotiated sum, the bots buy an according number of copies from the App Store, and the resulting money exchange goes three ways - Apple takes 30%, the company takes its cut, and the developer gets the rest while benefiting from the increased visibility of the product.
The most famous such business is GTekna, which explains its services in an-email sent to a prospective client as follows:
If you want to try Red Ball for some reason, head to the App Store and look for it in the Top Paid games section. We felt the game wasn't worth linking to, and taking a look at the screenshots is enough to explain why.
via Pocket Gamer