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9 most controversial apps and games from 2016

Not every app made a positive splash in the world. In this piece, we check out the most controversial apps and games from 2016!

Published onDecember 29, 2016

most controversial apps and games

App and game developers make big splashes in the industry every year. Sometimes, that splash isn’t exactly positive. We see apps every year that seem to do everything wrong and make people mad. Even if they aren’t great for consumers, they certainly are fun to talk about. Here are the most controversial apps and games from 2016.

badland 2 most controversial games
Badland 2

[Price: Free / $3.99]
The first Badland was one hell of a good platformer game. It was a pay-once title with tons of game play features. Thus, we were excited when we learned that Badland 2 was coming out. That is, until we learned it was coming from Cheetah Games, a branch off of Cheetah Mobile, makers of the Clean Master app. Their beta release of the app contained rampant advertising and in-app purchases which made everybody understandably angry. The full release returned to a pay-once following the backlash. However, there is still tons advertising along with other corny freemium mechanics that just make the game less enjoyable.

Beme most controversial apps

[Price: Free]
Beme was an attempted social media app created by popular YouTuber Casey Neistat. It never quite achieved the popularity of his YouTube channel, but it did work pretty well. In late 2016, Neistat sold the app to CNN for $25 million. Following this, he quit his daily vlog and is now doing some big project for CNN. Many have labeled Neistat a sell-out and many more are wondering how Beme was worth $25 million to begin with. In early 2017, Beme will be taken down and destroyed, so it’s not something we’ll have to think about for long.

ES File Explorer most controversial apps
ES File Explorer

[Price: Free / $2.99]
ES File Explorer didn’t have the best year. Once known as the best free file explorer out there, the app began its decline by adding in a bunch of snake oil features like performance boosting, cache cleaning, and task management. The decline reached critical when the app released an update in 2016 that added a so-called charge booster into the app and then hijacked the lock screen with advertising. The outcry was bad enough that the lock screen aspect was taken down, but by then the damage had been done. We’re sure many still use ES File Explorer, but its nearly ubiquitous praise from users and pundits alike no longer exists.

Evernote most controversial apps

[Price: Free with in-app purchases]
Evernote had a fairly interesting year. Their first big step was cutting down the features that free users get while beefing up the features that paid users get. This caused mild annoyance among people, but it wasn’t really all that bad. However, they followed that up by announcing a new privacy policy in late 2016 that would allow some employees to see user’s notes. This was done as part of a machine learning feature the company was working on. The backlash was immediate, harsh, and angry which led to the CEO announcing a reversion to the old privacy policy soon after. Everything is back to normal now, unless you’re a free user, but it wasn’t a great year for Evernote.

most controversial android apps
Famous (formerly Stolen)

[Price: Unavailable]
Famous, formerly known as Stolen, was a mobile game where players could buy and sell Twitter accounts. They weren’t sales of actual accounts, but kind of turned every Twitter account into a baseball card that could be collected with in-game currency. The idea, while harmless, sparked a variety of concerns from players and pundits alike. The app was taken down, revamped, and renamed as Famous before being released again. However, the concept of buying and selling people never really did mesh well with the kinds of people who decide those kinds of things and it was pulled again. As it stands, the app has been removed from pretty much everywhere.

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miitomo most controversial apps

[Price: Free with in-app purchases]
Miitomo was released this year. Does anyone remember Miitomo? For those that don’t, Miitomo was Nintendo’s first official release on Android. It’s essentially a social media app with cutesy Nintendo stuff everywhere. People ask you questions, you answer them, and you get coins to customize your little Miitomo character. The game was wildly popular for like one week, then dropped off the face of the Earth. People were undecided on whether it was even a game, let alone whether or not it was any good. Needless to say, it was a fairly big letdown and it exited the spotlight almost as soon as it got there.

pokemon GO most controversial apps and games 2016
Pokemon Go

[Price: Free with in-app purchases]
Pokemon Go came out in mid 2016 and everybody lost their damn minds. People were trespassing, criminals were using Pokestops to rope people in to rob them, whole countries were banning the app, and plenty of other ridiculous things were happening. To top things off, the game itself had rampant server and feature issues for months, had popular features ripped out of the game, and a rise and fall in popularity so intense that no other game in history could compare. People loved it, people hated it, and everyone was talking about it. The viral nature of the phenomenon made Flappy Bird look pathetic by comparison. Things have calmed down now, but Pokemon Go will be one of those things that even non-tech nerds will remember about 2016.

twitter most controversial apps
Twitter and Vine

[Price: Free]
Twitter and Vine both had really interesting years in a bad way. Twitter was at the heart of several controversies regarding various bans and punishments against various online personalities along with conspiracy theories about Twitter’s penchant to pick sides in things like politics. Then we have Vine. There was an announcement that Vine was going down in flames, only to be pulled back at the last second as a camera app. There were rumors pretty much all year that Twitter and Vine were looking for buyers, but they were allegedly too toxic for serious investors. It’s been a down year for Twitter, and Twitter knows it.

Uber most controversial apps

[Price: Free / Prices Vary]
Finally, we have Uber. They have made the list three years running. In fact, it would almost feel wrong to not have them here. Okay, here’s what Uber did this year. In Taiwan, they labeled themselves as a tech platform whereas the Taiwanese government labeled them a transportation service. If Uber is right, the Taiwanese government is asking them to pay taxes they don’t owe. If Taiwan is right, then Uber is essentially dodging taxes. In California, their self-driving car ran a red light and now California doesn’t want Uber doing self-driving car stuff anymore. Uber fought it but ultimately took their project to Arizona instead. As per the norm, it was a crazy year for Uber. Every year is crazy for Uber.

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If we missed any controversial apps or games, tell us about them in the comments!

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