You don’t need to be a programmer to break into the App Store’s top charts. All you need is 100 bucks and a free afternoon.
You’ll need a halfway decent idea, of course, but once you’ve got that nailed down, you can easily buy the source code, get an online tutorial on how to use it and within hours have a game ready to play. That explains why 95 of the 300 or so new apps released on Apple’s iTunes store one day last week were riffs on Flappy Bird, the mega-hit its creator pulled at the height of its popularity. There’s Flappy Wings, Splashy Fish, even Crappy Bird.
For some reason, a surprising number of these apps, like Flying Cyrus, Cyrus Flyer and Jumping Miley, feature the disembodied head of pop star Miley Cyrus. One of the most downloaded of this unlikely sub-genre is Flappy Miley Wrecking Ball Pro, created by Gregory Storm. He uploaded the game on February 12, just two days after Flappy Bird flew the coop. Never mind that he’d only heard of Flappy Bird the week before. “I had no idea what a Flappy Bird was,” Storm said. “Never played it. Hadn’t seen it.”
So how was he able to create Flappy Miley so quickly? Easy: He bought everything he needed.
The first step was purchasing the source code to Flappy Crocodile.
On sites like Chupamobile, billed as “a stock photo agency, but for app development,” programmers can sell their app’s source code to others. This is hardly a new idea in the videogame business, but just as the democratization of development has allowed people to create games with small budgets and sell them at low prices, so too has it created a market where middleware mavens can sell source code to would-be developers for next to nothing.