Frustrated game devs automated the production of 1,500 terrible slot machine apps and actually made money

Last March, game devs Alex Schwartz and Ziba Scott gave a presentation at the Game Developers Conference called "1,500 Slot Machines Walk into a Bar: Adventures in Quantity Over Quality in which they described how their own dissatisfaction with falling revenues from mobile app stores led them to muse about bulk-creating crappy apps and seeing if they could get paid.

They hit on the idea of churning out thousands of near-identical slot-machine apps, using a basic template they bought for $15; they then proceeded to automate the mass-production of more than 1,500 different slot machine games with every conceivable theme, from "tasteful sideboob" (removed from Google's app store) to "dolphins" and "canteloupe." Mining Google Trends for new themes, they began to target trends.

The whole thing made an improbable amount of money and generated investment offers. Eventually they got ditched by their ad provider and decided to walk away, but leave the automated system running. They document how it took years to fail.

The guys are very funny and clearly bemused and shocked by how well their crackpot idea worked. I love that they used nothing but terrible stock art for their slides.

Quality is overrated. Disheartened by all of the noise in the mobile ecosystem, speakers Alex Schwartz and Ziba Scott set out to determine the lowest bar for success on App Stores. They flooded the market with over 1,500 auto-generated slot machine games, got 1.6 million installs, made money (!!), received some very strange emails, made it big in Iran, and garnered a stupefying number of good reviews on Google Play. They even enlisted the talents of an honest-to-God MIT statistician.Take a fantastic tour of the weird, dark underbelly of the mobile app market. Marvel as the speakers share their experience with pushing the limits of automation as well as the rate limits of every public API under the sun. Silently judge the questionable ethics of their enterprise. By the end, you may be reconsidering your life choices as Alex and Ziba debate the merits of quantity over quality.

1,500 Slot Machines Walk into a Bar: Adventures in Quantity Over Quality [Alex Schwartz and Ziba Scott/GDC]