Where would we be without the grey market? Overwhelmed developer Dong Nguyen may have pulled runaway mobile success “Flappy Bird” from Google Play and the App Store, but some people aren’t going to let a little thing like that get in their way of the maddeningly addictive minigame. It’s impossible to download the game new, so some have taken to eBay to sell iPhones with the game pre-installed.
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An eBay search for “Flappy Bird” now yields almost 4,000 results, almost exclusively for phones with the game on it. The most expensive one is going for $90,000, and while there are six bids on it, I can’t imagine anyone actually intends to pay. Prices are fairly low for iPhone 4 and 4Ss, but there’s a considerable midrange between about $400 and $1,500. As a point of reference, a brand new unlocked iPhone 5s sells for a minimum of $649.
Considering the fact that the game used to sell for “free,” this represents a considerable markup. Of course, people aren’t really paying for a tiny little game about flying through pipes so much as they’re paying for a story. Many of the descriptions describe it as a “collector’s app,” which may be an entirely new merchandise category. In a funny way, it speaks to just how established the app economy has become — it has history now.
It’s impossible to tell how many of these listings are serious, or how many actual sales will result from this flood, but it’s safe to say that at least a few people will be willing to shell out a premium for one of these phones.
Of course, a game as simple as Flappy Bird is fairly easy to clone, so you could still play a game exactly like Flappy Bird without shelling out for an entirely new phone. Games like “Flappy Bee” and “Ironpants” flooded the market shortly after the runaway success of Flappy Bird, and they play identically. Alternatively, you could try some of Dong Nguyen’s other games: “Shuriken Block” or “Super Ball Juggling,” for example.