Flappy Bird

How Flappy Bird Became the #1 Mobile App and Why it was Pulled

When GEARS Studios released Flappy Bird, it quickly gained attention for its extreme difficulty. The game seems rather simple: the player navigates a flying bird through a series of obstacles. Tapping the screen causes the bird to flap so that it moves upward. Without tapping the screen, gravity pulls the bird down.

As the player progresses, the game becomes more difficult. Eventually, players find it nearly impossible to keep up with the obstacles, although Dong Nguyen, the game’s creator, says that he didn’t build any levels that are impossible to complete.

Flappy Bird became one of the most popular games for iPhone and Android devices. Some reports indicate that the game earned more than $50,000 per day from advertisements.

The game’s popularity likely comes from several features:

  • the obstacles have an undeniable likeness to the pipes used in early Super Mario Bros. video games
  • the difficulty encouraged people to download the game just to see how far they could get
  • people really seem to like smartphone games with birds in them
  • as a free app, players didn’t have to take any financial risks to try the game

Flappy Bird Gets Pulled

Dong Nguyen says it only took him a few days to build the original version of Flappy Bird. Still, it earned tremendous amounts of money. Nguyen says that the popularity began to interfere with his life, causing him emotional distress.

He had threatened to remove Flappy Bird from online stores before, but he didn’t follow through with the threat until February 2014. Nguyen even tweeted about his experience. He said that the press had overrated the game. He also asked for peace, saying that the game’s success was ruining his simple life.

Nguyen may have felt unworthy of the game’s popularity. $50,000 a day is a lot of money to earn from a game that only took a few days to create.

Nguyen may also have grown weary just hearing about the game.

When Angry Birds became popular, Rovio Entertainment took advantage of every money-making opportunity. It released new editions, books, toys, clothing, a spin-off, and even an animated series. It used the game’s initial success to create a brand that could keep earning money from a variety of revenue streams.

Such a prospect may have seemed too daunting to Nguyen. He may have looked at the success of Angry Birds, and decided that he didn’t want that much stress in his life. Regardless of his underlying motives, the game has been pulled from Android and iPhone app stores.

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