Fake Pokemon app becomes Apple App Store bestseller

@CNNMoneyTech February 21, 2012: 5:39 PM ET

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- A scam Pokemon game reached No. 2 on Apple's App Store charts this week before it was pulled -- a debacle that calls into question both Apple's approval process and Nintendo's "no apps for us" stance.

The 99-cent "Pokemon Yellow" game appeared in the Apple App Store on Friday. But the game wasn't made by Pokemon owner Nintendo; instead, it was published by third-party developer Home of Anime.

Brian Ashcroft, a writer at gaming blog Kotaku, first spotted the bogus app in the wee hours of Monday morning. Ashcroft reported on the rogue software and noted that user reviews complained of it crashing as soon as it opened.

Reports of the scam spread across the Web, and Pokemon Yellow disappeared from the App Store late Monday. Industry blog Develop estimates that Pokemon Yellow raked in $10,000 before it was pulled.

Neither Nintendo nor Apple responded to requests for comment on Tuesday.

The whole mess is clearly a black eye for Apple (AAPL, Fortune 500), which often touts its tight curation of and control over its App Store.

But Pokemon Yellow -- and the success it had in its short life -- also highlights a disconnect between Nintendo's business strategy and what its fans want.

Nintendo has famously shunned mobile and social, even as the casual gaming market explodes on platforms like smartphones and Facebook.

Pokemon Yellow's quick viral success shows that Nintendo customers want apps.

Just last month, Nintendo North America president Reggie Fils-Aime told CNNMoney at a tech trade show that the company feels "the best Nintendo gaming experience is on Nintendo products."

The company has no interest in extending its game franchises into iPhone apps or Facebook games, he said.

Reader "jaywontdart" commented on Kotaku's article: "I wont buy another Nintendo device, but I would gladly pay 10+ USD for a copy of many Nintendo (and Sony, and Microsoft) games for my iPhone. I wish I had the chance!" To top of page

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