In the wake of Flappy Bird's demise, an army of clones has risen up to take its place — but Apple and Google may now be preventing that from happening. Currently when you search "flappy" in Google Play or the App Store, you'll see game like Flappy Fish, Flappy Pig, or Splashy Fish pop up. However, several developers are reporting that both Apple and Google have since clamped down on obvious clones, disallowing games that are clearly built to cash in on Flappy Bird's sudden burst of popularity.
On Friday, Ken Carpenter, from studio Mind Juice Media, tweeted that his game Flappy Dragon was rejected by Apple, with the company telling him "we found your app name attempts to leverage a popular app." After that initial tweet, several developers responded saying that they had seen or received similar responses from both Apple and Google. In some cases, it's making developers consider changing or resubmitting games they've already made. Developer Paul Pridham from Mad Garden, for example, who previously worked on titles like Punch Quest, is debating whether to resubmit his cthulhu-themed clone Flapthulhu to the App Store with a new name. You can currently play the game on Windows.
This is just not my fucking week: Rejected. "We found your app name attempts to leverage a popular app." Which app? FB doesn't exist!?!?!— Ken Carpenter (@MindJuiceMedia) February 15, 2014
An Apple spokesperson said that the company isn't simply rejecting games with "flappy" in the name, but instead titles that are clearly trying to trick customers, making them think their app is replacing or associated with the original. Google has yet to comment. According to Carpenter, when Flappy Dragon was pulled from Google Play, the company told him "do not use irrelevant, misleading, or excessive keywords in apps descriptions, titles, or metadata."
"I had included a sentence about Flappy Dragon being the best flappy game now that Flappy Bird was dead," Carpenter tells The Verge. When he submitted a second time, with the description removed, the app was again rejected. He was finally able to get the game on Google Play by changing the name to Derpy Dragon, which is currently available to download.
It also appears that the decision to crack down on clones doesn't just impact new games submitted to the app store, as several current games appear to have changed their names. As Ouriel Ohayon points out, Flappy Bee, one of the early games to take advantage of the "flappy" name, is now known as Jumpy Bee. Whether or not the name was changed in response to a request from Apple is currently unclear, but it seems that both Apple and Google have simply been slow to react to the wave of "flappy" games hitting their stores. For those developers who were able to get in early, they managed to leach some success off of a very lucrative game. Everyone else looking to make a quick buck appears to be out of luck.
"It makes no sense to me," says Carpenter.