The rise and fall of ‘Flappy Bird’

‘Flappy Bird,’ created by Vietnamese game-maker Dong Nguyen and released earlier this year, employs a simple ‘Tap to Flap’ mechanic that makes the game easy to learn although difficult to master. Photo Courtesy of nouse.co.uk
‘Flappy Bird,’ created by Vietnamese game-maker Dong Nguyen and released earlier this year, employs a simple ‘Tap to Flap’ mechanic that makes the game easy to learn although difficult to master. Photo Courtesy of nouse.co.uk

In Jan. 2014, a mobile game called “Flappy Bird” became popular on the market. Dong Nguyen, a Vietnamese game-maker who specializes in creating simple games for mobile devices, invented it.

The premise of the game is simple: A player taps the screen to flap the wings of a constantly falling bird, keeping it afloat. The bird continuously moves from left to right, and the player must navigate it between pipes, a point earned with every pipe.

The game itself received mixed reviews from critics, who mostly said that while the game is mechanically sound, it is nothing more than a waste of time.

Suddenly, the game gained infamy because of its simplistic, yet difficult, control of Flappy Bird. Also, because the game itself never ends, people kept sharing their scores online, trying to beat their friends. It grew so popular that it was rumored to make $50,000 a day in ad revenue alone.

However, the developer started to dislike the popularity the game was receiving.

Dong tweeted on Feb. 8: “I can call Flappy Bird a success of mine. But it is also ruining my simple life. So now I hate it.”

Later the same day, he tweeted, “I am sorry, ‘Flappy Bird’ users. Twenty-two hours from now, I will take ‘Flappy Bird’ down. I cannot take this anymore.”

He later says that he will not sell the game, but will continue being a game developer.

Even though there was an outcry from fans asking him to keep the game live, he officially took it down off of the iOS App Store and Google Play. People who had already downloaded the game still had it, and kept playing it.

Because of the game’s simplicity in graphics and mechanics, multiple “Flappy Bird” clones even appeared on the market, such as “Flappy Wings.” Even phones that have the game installed have been appearing on eBay for sale. iPhone 5 devices with the game are listed for $650 or more on eBay.

Fans speculated that the reason the game was removed was because the pipes that Flappy Bird went through looked too much like the iconic pipes from the Super Mario Bros. creations and thus the Vietnam man was pressured to remove the game.

However, when Nguyen was interviewed by Forbes, he denied the claim and stated that he felt the game was “addictive” and “has become a problem.” He said in the interview that the game was only supposed to be played for just a few minutes at a time for relaxation. He claimed that he doesn’t know exactly how much money he earned from the game, although he said, “I do know it’s a lot.”

The developer also has no intention to bring back the game, but said that the success has motivated him to make new games and that his previous games will remain on the market unless they, too, become a problem like “Flappy Bird” did.

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