Wednesday, January 15, 2014
Blips: Gaming the System
Source: The strange, shady world of $1,000 iOS apps
Author: Mike Wehner
It's rough out there in the App Store world, to the extent that some game developers are attempting to pull one over on the system through some price fluctuation trickery. In a report by Mike Wehner for The Unofficial Apple Weblog, it is revealed why a simple game like The Fleas, made by Vhlamlab, would retail for $999.99. Turns out it's part of a scheme to get some eyeballs on the game by having it show up on the App Store's "Top Grossing" list. So how do they earn enough money in sales to rank on such a list? Well, that's the trick of it.
There is some back door money handling going on that results in, say, $10,000 being loaned for purchasing the game across 10 accounts. Once Apple takes their 30%, the developers have spent $3,000 to get their game on a very visible list for a few hours. At this point, the price is dropped back down to $1 to try and capitalize on legitimate sales and attempt to recoup that $3,000. It seems like an incredibly risky and shady thing to do for such a potentially small payoff, but it does happen. In fact, as Wehner notes, The Fleas is still selling for $1,000. Apparently, some people have actually bought it at that price. Madness, I say.