The shortlived success of Flappy Bird
Philip Ellison 11 February, 2014 at 09:02
Most creators dream of producing an app that takes on a life of its own and gains global traction practically overnight. Dong Nguyen achieved this with his highly addictive game Flappy Bird, which launched in May last year and went viral in recent weeks, topping the Apple and Android app stores respectively. But rather than enjoying his success, Nguyen quickly found he was uncomfortable with the level of attention and pressure placed on him. Over the weekend he tweeted; “I am sorry Flappy Bird users, 22 hours from now, I will take Flappy Bird down. I cannot take this any more.”
“It is not anything related to legal issues,” he continued. “I just cannot keep it up any more.” Flappy Bird has since been removed completely from the App Store; people who already have the game on their iPhone will be able to continue playing. Already, a cottage industry has sprung up to supply consumers with iPhones that come with the game already downloaded, with one such item being listed on eBay for a whopping $99,000.
Despite requesting that game users give him “peace”, Nguyen has faced an aggressive backlash from fans following his announcement that he intended to pull Flappy Bird, with some threatening to kill him or themselves if he didn’t reverse his decision.
BBC tech correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones believes that Flappy Bird’s popularity can be attributed partially to its innate simplicity; “Perhaps the success of a simple ad-supported game where the only annoyance is how hard it is to get past the first pipe will inspire others to move away from the in-app purchase model.” The ads mentioned were reportedly generating revenues upwards of £50,000 per day before the app was taken down.
Unfortunately, by taking Flappy Bird off the market, Nguyen may have only drawn even more intense scrutiny from consumers. Cynics among us may even speculate that this was his intention all along. “By killing the golden goose so quickly,” Cellan-Jones comments, “Dong Nguyen has ensured that a huge audience will be waiting with breathless anticipation for his next game.”