Google setting a dangerous precedent by potentially blocking Flappy Bird clones?

Game developers the world over must have really lost their you-know-what when they heard about Dong Nguyen, Vietnamese developer, raking in $50,000 a day on the insanely popular (yet extremely simple) Flappy Bird. Upon its swift exit from the digital marketplaces of the world, tons of clones hit the Google Play Store to try and ride one of the biggest tidal wave fads in mobile history.

flappy-bird-icon

But it doesn’t look like Google will let clones of the addictive game take over its apps repository as easily as the original took over many others’ lives. Developers have been revealing that Google is possibly beginning to reject any new game submissions with the word “Flappy” in the title, which is one good place to start if you’re looking to curb a ridiculous trend.

Not only that, but Google is also reportedly blocking any game that looks to take on the Flappy Bird formula, even if the developer’s app doesn’t make mention of the game it’s ripping off.

Developer Ken Carpenter revealed as much, saying Google considered his app — Flappy Dragon — “spam,” and used that as basis for rejecting it from Google Play. Google alerted Carpenter that they detected an attempt to “leverage a popular app.” (We’re not sure if it means anything, but Ken’s renamed “Derpy Dragon” game was successfully resubmitted and is still sitting in the Google Play Store as of the time of this writing.)

We wouldn’t be inclined to disagree with the notion that there’s no room for spam apps in the Google Play Store, but you have to wonder if this would set a dangerous precedent for the Google Play Store. Openness and acceptance have long been key components of the Android Market / Google Play Store’s makeup, and was always one of the few big differences that made developer atmosphere on Android shine compared to Apple’s walled garden.

For what it’s worth, Google has at least allowed existing apps to stay in the Google Play Store, so those who were “in before the lock” seem to be safe. It also seems Google doesn’t have any issue with them being clones, just that they don’t use “Flappy” or “Flappy Bird” in the tile. Anything could change, though, and we’ll be looking to see if any other developers are affected in the hours or days to come.

We’re not sure how we’d feel if Google ever deemed it necessary to turn the Play Store into the same walled garden that the bitten fruit company handles, though we’re going to go out on a limb and say that the Mountain View company isn’t looking to make a habit of this.

Sure, we all hate endless clones, ripoff apps and other nonsense that tends to plague an open market place like Google Play, but we’d be even sicker if its current identity was compromised. Let’s just hope this is a one-time deal to help handle the latest anomaly to sweep the mobile world since, well, since Android itself became a hit.

We’ll be reaching out to Google to see if we can get more information about their latest action toward developers hoping to cash in on all this nonsense. In the meantime, be sure to tell us how you feel about all of it in the comments section below.

[via TechCrunch]

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  • WORPspeed

    Thought the title would read:

    iGoogle setting a dangerous precedent by adding Flappy Bird widget….

    NOW THAT would be dangerous :P
    Given iGoogle’s status and Flappy Bird’s status

  • Mark Wheeler

    Actually this would be worse than apple as we currently have a flappy bird clone in the #1 and #2 spots for the top free apps chart. :p

  • bozzykid

    This article is seriously flawed. Google IS allowing those apps in but not with names that are intentionally trying to confuse users into thinking they are Flappy Bird. In this case Google is looking out for their users and I can appreciate that.

    • http://www.phandroid.com Quentyn Kennemer

      I noted that in the article. Like I said, I agree that this is something that should be done to help protect those unknowing users out there who might be looking for Flappy Bird without knowing what happened to it.

    • DavidVarghese

      Also, the problem of hidden malware in those apps is a serious problem. Google was in the right to take down Flappy Bird knockoffs.

    • http://twitter.com/gamercore Chris Chavez

      I understand clones that are the exact same game, but in the case of Flatty Bird (written about here: http://phandroid.com/2014/02/1… I don’t think a ban was warranted. Sure the game used Flappy Bird graphics (which were never original to begin with), but it had completely different gameplay from the original. I think Google might be going a little too far with this…

  • z0phi3l

    It’s a good start IMO, they need to extend it to all apps that are blatant rip offs of popular games and apps

    • Sean Royce

      That’s taking it a bit to far. Developers have got to start somewhere. Even if a game is a little similar to another.

      • Imparus

        When they are naming their game after another game, and copy its design and game mechanism to get customer that will be confused or actually wanted the original, the developer are taking it to far. Then it is not just a little similar, but a clone trying to cash in on someone else idea.

        • Fred Marshall

          Replace game with phone and you sound like apple :|

          • Imparus

            It is not acceptable to steal others ideas, brand, design and implementation, then you are just cloning and trying to hustle people into buying your product.

            And if you wanna replace it with phones, then lets say you make a phone that look like the iphone and then call it the ePhone 5s, you deserve getting sued, and did nothing to contribute to innovation. You actually destroys innovation for companies who will put in effort to innovate.

      • robjackson81

        And THIS comment is EXACTLY why “dangerous precedent” is spot on. True story.

    • mcl630

      Where’s the line between “blatant rip off” and “inspired by” or “similar to”?

  • Rammstein

    Not sure how this is a “dangerous precedent”. The last thing I want to see is a lot of copycat apps filling up the Play Store. I’m glad to see Google maintaining the Play Store in this manner.

    • robjackson81

      Well I think he’s suggesting it’s the “precedent” that is dangerous here, not this particular case. Google has typically left the door wide open for developers unless they specifically violate TOS or are notified of some legal violation.

      In this case, it would seem Google is being proactive. So now that they’ve taken action, where will they draw the line? Might they start doing store-wide searches for popular trademarks and remove any app that they deem a trademark violation?

      Following the precedent this “Flappy” issue sets… one could argue that’s not a crazy possibility. I think that runs counter to the Google Play Store principles and Android’s open nature, which is why I think Quentyn rightly defines the precedent – not the removal of Flappy clones – as dangerous.

      • phor11

        But weren’t there dozens of other apps already in the play store specifically named “Flappy Dragon”? Isn’t it possible that one of those developers filed a complaint about other apps with the exact same name?
        After all, they did just say “a popular app”, not Flappy Bird specifically.

        Or even more probable, it was denied because the description clearly labeled the game as a clone of another game?

        I don’t find that to be a dangerous precedent at all.

        • mcl630

          It becomes dangerous when you take a single word and start removing everything containing that word without really evaluating whether it’s a knock-off.

          It also becomes dangerous when you start taking down apps that are similar to or “inspired by” another app rather than just apps that are “true” knock-offs.

          • phor11

            I would agree, but that’s not what is happening is it?
            I see at least one Flappy Dragon that was just added today.

            I see about half a dozen “flappy” games that were added yesterday…

            The only actual example that we’ve been told about blatantly said “Best Flappy Bird Clone” in the description when it was denied. Do you think it’s “dangerous” to deny an app that clearly labels itself as a clone of another game and includes that games title in the description trying to get more hits?

          • mcl630

            If they are only denying apps that admit to being clones, that’s fine. It’s when it becomes a judgement call, you get into trouble. Google and Apple don’t have the time to truly compare every app to every other app and fairly determine what’s a knock-off and what’s just similar.

  • aaron cooper

    Google is doing it for the greater good, and I don’t have a problem with them handling this problem in this manner.

    • Ryan N

      THE GREATER GOOD.

      • https://plus.google.com/108596272537415356460/posts Jason Farrell

        Yep. The greater good, as opposed to the selfish bottom-feeding parasitic greedy good.

  • jfelts

    I had the original Flappy Bird installed before they removed it from the play store. Today the app is gone. Can Google force remove apps from phones if they were installed from the play store?

    • Sean Royce

      No they can’t. So that’s odd that it happened to you. Are you sure you didn’t accidentally uninstall it?

    • O’s Fan91

      Check the “all” section of your apps on Google Play – it should be there and you can re-install it.

      • jfelts

        Thanks. Come to find out my sd card somehow wasn’t seated properly.

  • bmg314

    As long as they keep themselves in check, it’s fine. Remember in the first year or two when Google let anyone and everyone post whatever they wanted in the market, and the buttloads of crap apps that resulted? We were a laughingstock.

    • https://plus.google.com/108596272537415356460/posts Jason Farrell

      There’s still just as much crap there, percentage-wise, it’s just that now there’s so many more apps that there’s enough good to push out the bad.

  • Imparus

    Flappy Dragon had in the description it was the best flappy bird clone, he deserve no sympathy.

  • IVHorseMen

    I like this move by Google, devs have to start somewhere but rip offs isn’t the place.

  • hideeho100

    Hey guys. I just looked. The Nexus 10 is no longer available in the Play Store. Hopefully we will get the Nexus 8 or 10 2 by March!

    • AGx

      Off topic much.

  • dhinged

    Clones should only be banned if they’re malicious or the developer of the original can prove they’re getting ripped off, otherwise let them be! I’ve played plenty of fun clones that I spent money with and was happy with.

  • ljhughes8

    My Flappy Bird still there.

  • Danny Lewis

    I do not feel sorry for these Johnny-come-latelies.

  • https://plus.google.com/108596272537415356460/posts Jason Farrell

    Why did Google ban my game?: “Flappy Candy Angry Birds Saga VS Zombie Riptide”.

    F’in fascists!

  • http://twitter.com/gamercore Chris Chavez

    I understand clones that are largely the same exact game, but in the case of Flatty Bird (written about here: http://phandroid.com/2014/02/10/channel-your-flappy-bird-hate-with-flatty-bird/) I don’t think a ban was warranted. Sure the game used Flappy Bird graphics (which were never original to begin with), but it had completely different gameplay from the original. I think Google might be going a little too far with this…

    • Uzza

      How dare you speak of matters of the master.

  • cooldoods

    I think banning “Flappy” games is an unusual but necessary action. People looking for “Flappy Bird” will likely come across these apps because the original has been taken down. Anyone wanting to take advantage of this kind of demand can take advantage by creating trojan apps and labeling them “Flappy”. As the author mentions, Google Play is more open than other app stores and, even though they do have automated app scanners, it is likely that rogue apps may be downloaded unless Google purposefully filters out “Flappy” apps.

  • TheBotangleMan

    https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.sevenarmedsquid.bumping

    Mine hasn’t been taken down. Its game play is just like the original game!
    Expect some super sick free DLCs in the future
    ALSO NO IAP COMPLETELY FREE. DID IT FOR THE LOVE :)
    WE MISS YOU FLAPPY BIRD!!!

    • AGx

      Go away.