Tomorrow marks the anniversary of the global sensation Flappy Bird. First introduced in May 24, 2013, the game, created by Vietnamese developer Dong Nguyen, blew up all over the world. By the end of January 2014, Flappy Bird had topped the charts for the most downloaded free game in the iOS App Store. One year later, we reflect on the great success of Flappy Bird.
Its simplicity is what makes it difficult. The game’s objective is to direct a flying bird between pipes, without hitting them. Tapping on the screen makes the bird fly, while not tapping causes the bird to fall due to gravity. One point is awarded for each successful pipe that is passed.
Sounds simple enough? Not really. The game has been received as “easy to learn but hard to master.” Others dub Flappy Bird as “impossible,” claiming that the game was designed to be a no-win game. The Huffington Post described it as “insanely irritating, difficult and frustrating game which combines a super-steep difficulty curve with bad, boring graphics and jerky movement.”
When first introduced, Flappy Bird received mixed reviews. It scored at 52/100 on the Metacritic scale, possibly due to its high level of difficulty. Other reviews lauded the game for its addictiveness, claiming it could compete with Candy Crush Saga as one of the most popular mobile games of 2014.
At its peak, Nguyen was making $500,000 a day from ads alone. However, on February 8, 2014, Nguyen discontinued the game and removed it from Apple’s App Store and Google’s Play Store. He told the public that the reason was purely personal and not legal. “It happened to become an addictive product,” Nguyen said in an interview with Forbes. “I think it has become a problem. To solve that problem, it’s best to take down Flappy Bird. It’s gone forever.”‘
Nguyen’s decision to remove this new game has caused an uproar among its players. Recent reports show that Nguyen has received death threats for his decision to pull the game.
On March 19, Nguyen announced that the game would return, telling CNBC that it would have multiplayer capabilities and it would be less addictive due to the implementation of a “cooling down system” that would force users to take breaks. Since then, there have been countless imitations of Flappy Bird, and these clones still top the charts.
And that is the legacy of Flappy Bird, although it may be soon overtaken by the new game 2048. We’ll see.