The first thing to say is that I don’t much care for the term “flappy bird.” The whole point of a flappy bird is that it’s not a bird. It’s not even a flapping thing. It’s a metaphor, and the term flappy bird doesn’t communicate the metaphor. As far as I’m concerned, it’s impossible to pare down the metaphor enough to make it fit into words.
“Flappy Bird” is a cute name for something that would be annoying no matter what genre it was part of. It seems like it might be particularly annoying when you try to play it on an iPhone, because your hand has to follow the joystick and do all that extra work and you can’t really feel where you are onscreen anyway.
I’ve been waiting for someone else to put together the story about how people found ways to make money off of flappy bird by creating sequels, but no one has yet.
Flappy Bird, the game that set everything on edge, has not yet been killed. It is still alive in the Apple App Store, and people are still finding events to commemorate it.
There are games that were bigger hits than Flappy Bird ever was. (The original Angry Birds, which came out just before it; Candy Crush Saga, which came out after.) But they haven’t suffered the same cultural comeback. That may be because they have been replaced by sequels. And those sequels have been made into movies and TV shows. Flappy Bird is now a phenomenon that has had more life than it ever had in real life.
And so it is with flappy bird spin-offs. There are Flappy Bird clones called “Flappy Dino”, “Flappy Dragon”, “Flappy Cat”. There are apps that let you play Flappy Bird on your iPhone or Android device in your browser, or on Windows PCs.
It’s a big deal when a game is popular enough to inspire sequels. But it’s an even bigger deal when one of the sequels is as loved and hated as Flappy Bird.
Last week, Dong Nguyen, creator of the original Flappy Bird app, announced that he had sold his company to Vietnamese video game investor DotGem. Now, Nguyen has released a statement explaining his reasons for pulling the game from app stores and the web:
“I cannot continue [Flappy Bird] now due to new policies from Apple,” he wrote on Twitter. “I hope we can stay in touch in the future.”
It was clear that Nguyen’s company had been approached by potential buyers—his Twitter feed featured tweets saying that he was seeking a partner who would “take care of my bird.” There were also rumors, for some time now, that another company might buy Flappy Bird’s developer.
The flappy games were a kind of addictive puzzle that involved moving a small bird through a landscape of pipes. Flappy Bird was the original and the most famous, but there have been others.
The original was made by an indie game developer named Dong Nguyen, who remains anonymous. A few weeks after he released it in December 2013, Nguyen quietly pulled it off his website.
Soon after, Nguyen’s new game – called Super Ball Juggling Bird – appeared on the App Store with a description like “Do you know how to juggle? Now you can master this masterpiece!” and “Come on! Let’s learn to juggle super balls! Tap to juggle super balls like mad monkey!” The description also said it would cost 99 cents.
Nguyen later told Wired he’d been too busy to keep up with the hype around Flappy Bird: “I did not expect so much attention from the public,” he said. “Because of this attention, I lost my motivation… I started having trouble sleeping and eating properly.” He added that he didn’t want any more media attention.
When Super Ball Juggling Bird was first released on Dec 21, Nguyen reportedly told TechCrunch that it was quite similar to Flappy Bird but without the ads (and without the
I loved Flappy Bird, and I’m sad that it’s gone. (If you want the gist in under a minute, just watch this video on how I made my fortune: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yCxBR1qwPoY )
I don’t know if anyone knows this, but Flappy Bird had a sequel that was actually pretty fun to play. What is it called? It was called Flappy Bird 2!
It’s still available!!!! So here’s my advice: you have to get it before the company that made it goes out of business. Once they go out of business, the sequels will be gone forever, and you’ll never see it again. Or if it resurfaces somehow in the future, then that means that you’re way too late and your chances of getting the sequel are very slim. (This is also known as “The Law of Diminishing Returns.”)
I am a fan of Flappy Bird. I think it is a brilliant game. It has simple graphics, and the gameplay is straightforward.
But the game’s creator Dong Nguyen has recently announced that he is taking down the app from Google Play. This is because his life has been overshadowed by the fame of his game, and he needs to focus on other things.
It would be wrong to say that Flappy Bird was a success, or even particularly successful; it made some money, but it was not wildly popular. Flappy Bird also did not have any real competition at the time, so Nguyen would still have been making money even if no one else had played it. But it did represent a new kind of business model for mobile games: free and advertising-supported.
It’s not unusual for someone to create a game that isn’t wildly popular at first but gets better over time; most games do that eventually. What is unusual is to start with a popular game and then take it down from one store in order to make money from another one.
Flappy Bird, the mobile game that took the world by storm last year, spawned a rash of clones, most notably the fact-challenged Flappy Flyer. None of these games were as popular as Flappy Bird and none have achieved much in the way of critical or commercial success.
Why? I think it’s because of the way they’ve been promoted. The original story was that Flappy Bird, which was free to download but rather hard to play, had become a bit of a cash cow for its creator Dong Nguyen (he now makes $50 million a year). Now that he’s made a sequel called Flappy Bird 2, it looks like he’s going to make even more money. But this is not what people are talking about when they talk about Flappy Bird.
Rather, they’re talking about its demise: how Flappy Bird 2 became an overnight sensation only to be condemned as unoriginal and reckless by critics who can’t even agree on how to pronounce its name. The problem is that the stories we tell ourselves about our own success – about how we got here, where we came from – determine how much respect we get from others.