Thursday 17 April 2014

Flappy Bird revival: Man rents out iPhone to game addicts

An American man is renting out his iPhone to users by the minute to indulge their Flappy Bird addiction.

US-based Jeff Nelson was struck with the idea after he tried to sell his iPhone 5 on eBay, preloaded with Flappy Bird which has now been removed from app stores.

In recent days hundreds of smartphones and tablets installed with the app have been uploaded to eBay for up to £150,000 after players panicked the game would no longer be available.

It is worth noting the app was free to download in the first place, and users who loaded it onto their devices prior to its withdrawal from app stores can continue to play the game without issue.

Mr Nelson listed the starting bid price as $499.99, with a Buy It Now price of $1,200, before receiving a notification from eBay stating it had removed his phone listing, stating that smartphones and tablets must be restored to factory settings before they are allowed to be sold. As Flappy Bird was linked to Mr Nelson's Apple ID, wiping the phone would leave the buyer unable to play the fiendishly addictive app.

Mr Nelson now plans on renting his phone out for the price of $1 per minute, and has advertised his services on Craigslist.

"I realised there existed a heavy demand for the game among gamers who did not download it before the app was taken down," he said. "Trained as an economist, I decided to supply that demand.

"On Craigslist there were many sellers attempting to sell their electronic devices at exorbitant prices. Instead of selling a device for $5,000+, I decided I would let people rent my device and play for $1 a minute. That way they could test out the game (and see how incredibly frustrating it is) instead of purchasing a very expensive, used device. In a way it's a 'try before you buy' model."

Mr Nelson plans to let takers play the game on his phone in controlled environments, including his home in Washington DC, in Starbucks, or another place with people around and observe. He doesn't plan on letting people take the phone out of his sight without taking a security deposit to minimise the risk of theft.

"Truthfully, I think Flappy Bird is a dumb game that people are way too hyped up about," he said. "My personal high score is six. I am not very good at the game, but I have only played it for about 20 minutes in total."

The game, which involves tapping your device's screen to propel a small bird through a series of strategically placed pipes, has been a huge success in recent months.

However the app has also received criticism for its unprecedented popularity. Despite being released in May 2013, the app did not start receiving high download volumes until December last year. Speculation is rife that bots have been deployed to download the app thousands of times and falsely propel the game up the download charts.

When contacted by The Telegraph, creator Dong Nguyen refused to deny the claims, saying "I respect all other people opinions. I won't give any comment to this article. I'd like to make my games in peace." [sic].

He decided to remove the game from app stores last week after saying it had ruined his "simple life".

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