Why was “Flappy Bird” so popular and what happened to it?

In short, Dong Nguyen’s “Flappy Bird” is a no-frills mobile game which provides exactly the sort of experience it advertises.  You control the side-scrolling movement of a somewhat clunky “Flappy” bird, the ever-present goal being to avoid steering your fowl into any of the green pipes which are located above of below.  That just about sums it up right there, no additional elaboration required.  Having said that, there is actually a subtle element which adds another layer of depth to “Flappy Bird” – it can be quite addictive.

Traditionally speaking, when you think about 2-D platformers (especially those featuring lower-bit graphics), it’s tough not to immediately look at a game like this and think – “eh, that’s vaguely Super Mario-ish looking”.  However, there’s an understated brilliance present in Flappy Birds which cannot be overlooked.  This is the sort of game that you play when you’re just basically fiddling with your device, having no intention to do anything particularly important or involved.  To put it simply – Flappy Birds could be called a quirky-yet-elegant time-killer (and that’s not a bad thing).

flappy bird

Since it’s release, Flappy Birds has gone on to become a rather popular title to download among iOS and Android users alike.  To the point, the game has received a lot of attention recently (late Jan. 2014), effectively becoming the “most downloaded free game in the iOS App Store.”*

So the next question on everyone’s mind is of course – why has it been removed from both Apple’s App Store and Google Play?!  Did all the users (collectively) do something wrong?  Is everyone being punished?  As it turns out, the game’s creator, Dong Nguyen has reportedly seen fit to pull Flappy Birds off the shelf because of its “addictive nature”.  This implies some sense of guilt, perhaps, as if the cumulative effect of playing the game might be some form of derangement.  Who knows, he’s probably right, after spending several hours glued to your screen, absolutely entranced by the uniquely characteristic-yet-signature gameplay, you probably won’t care.

flappy bird 9

Strangely enough, since the ability to download the game has been removed, phones which had it pre-installed were suddenly hot items on ecommerce sites like eBay.  Of course that little economic bubble was quickly popped once people realized that selling a phone without a memory wipe was apparently in violation of eBay’s terms of service.

At any rate, the story of Flappy Birds is one which all burgeoning game developers should learn from.  …Assuming that this isn’t just some type of marketing ploy, of course, where artificial scarcity is induced in order to boost the value of the game (so that when it’s brought back people will pay more for it, at least temporarily).  Chances are, under mounting pressure and the prospect of increasing bank rolls, Dong Nguyen’s mind will be changed once more, given enough time.  Perhaps a knock-off of the game will eclipse Flappy Bird’s success?  Here are some titles to check out in the meantime:

  • Derpy Dragon

  • Splashy Fish

  • Flying Cyrus

  • City Bird

* Source – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flappy_Bird


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