The formally obscure game, Stay in the Line, has managed to do what should reasonable be considered impossible. OptimizeMyApps has discovered that the game, developed by Barry Wyckoff, has gone from being an app ranked in the thousands to #5 on the free apps listing in one day, then to #1 a single day later. This type of meteoric rise is suspicious to say the least, leading some to speculate there was some “pay to rank” activity going on.
Ever since the ultra-simplistic Flappy Bird took the internet by surprise by be becoming the world’s most popular mobile app, the notion of paid downloads has been a hot-button topic. The notion that app developers can pay to have a bot download their app over and over again until they rank in the top 10 downloads on the App Store or Google Play leaves a bad taste in the mouths of both consumers and the mobile industry, to say the least.
ArsTechnica estimates that it likely costs close to $96,000 in paid downloads to reach the top 10 list. When you consider that Make it Rain is supposedly making $50,000 a day in revenue, and even they are dwarfed by Clash of Clans, which is estimated to make over a million dollars a day, a one time payment of $96,000 seems pretty insignificant. It’s a sad state of affairs for those of us who rely on those rankings to find real, quality gaming experiences.
In the case of Stay in the Line, it’s certainly possible that bots were used to artificially climb the ranking, but it’s also possible that the game has legitimately gone viral, or that there was a reporting error on Apple’s part. What say you? Have you played Stay in the Line? If so, do you think it deserves to be ranked #1?