UPDATE: Flappy Bird creator, Dong Nguyen announced via Twitter on Saturday 2/8/14 that he was going to be taking the game down from all distribution venues stating, "I am sorry 'Flappy Bird' users, 22 hours from now, I will take 'Flappy Bird' down. I cannot take this anymore." While most developers can only dream of their games being so successful, Nguyen also stated that he never wanted to get this much attention for the games he makes. Could this just be a marketing ploy to gain attention for a future version of the game, or is he really just this afraid of success? Flappy Bird was said to be bringing in excess of $50,000 a day. As of now, it is no longer available on the iTunes App Store or Google Play.
Or, will you love to hate the game instead? Either way, you will keep coming back to this simple, but frustratingly fun and addictive time-sink of a game.
The object is to fly in between green pipes without hitting them or the ground with your bird. Tap the screen to make the bird fly. Keep tapping to flap your wings, or gravity will take over and you will do a nosedive to the ground, and it’s game over. Each set of pipes you fly between will increase your score by 1, indicated by not only a score increase, but also a rewarding chime. For further incentive, there are 4 medals to obtain: Bronze, Silver, Gold (hard) and Platinum (very hard). And after you get your latest score achievement, you can share it with whomever you please through text message, e-mail, Twitter or Facebook. Instant bragging rights are built right in!
It sounds easy, but in reality it’s very difficult to maintain flight, as each tap of the screen makes your bird fly higher, but the gravity is a killer, and there’s only so much room between those pipes, not to mention the openings through which your bird can fly keep changing every time you begin a new game. You’ll be finding yourself with scores between 1 and 3 in the beginning. As you learn to time your taps better, you’ll start getting into double digit scores and that’s where the challenge starts turning into an obsession.
So what's the draw? First of all, the availability of the game on iOS and Android devices helps a great deal. Second of all, it’s free—ads appear on the top & bottom of your screen every once in a while (The ads can be a bit intrusive, as you’re trying to be very precise). Other than that, maybe it's the familiarity of the Super Mario-shaped pipes...green and everything (I half expect a Piranha Plant to jump out of them at any time). Maybe it’s our longing for those “Nintendo-hard” games of yesteryear, or perhaps it’s our ever maddening draw to games like Super Meat Boy and Demons’ Souls where the game is “fair” in your reason for dying, but the challenge and difficulty is ramped up so high, that you will want to come back over and over again until you get it right.
More than anything else, I think it’s the feeling that this simplistic little game is going to kick your butt if you don’t do something about it. You’re a gamer. You’ve beaten the most difficult and challenging games ever set before you and asked for more. Then you try Flappy Bird for the first time, and get a whopping score of...1. There’s no way this duck-fish looking bird is going to humiliate you like that. So you try again...and again…changing your method of holding your device, putting it down on the table or floor, tapping with your thumb or your finger and doing this repeatedly until you find what works best for you. It’s maddening, but a welcome madness.
Game makers, analysts and developers are clamoring over Flappy Bird’s new found success and spike in traffic. There’s a high amount of positive reviews and downloads for the game, which is kind of odd, considering it was released back in May of last year without one ounce of advertising or fanfare by its creator Dong Nguyen of dotGears Studios. In any case, it’s now topping plenty of charts. The recent popularity of this simple game is sure to spawn plenty of clones and wannabe “dodge the incoming objects” types of games. But the original will most likely stick around for a while as more people hear about it, become addicts and get “Flappy-thumb” or other such aches and pains—physically and mentally.
Angry Birds followed a rather simple formula that worked very well for a number of years, spawning sequel after sequel, and it turned into a merchandiser’s dream as well. So, what’s the difference? You always had several tries and several different types of birds to take down the evil little piggies in Angry Birds. But Flappy Bird is even more simplistic and doesn’t give you any sort of break. You need to concentrate and fly pretty much perfectly to get any sort of decent score in the game. Which could probably translate into the most relief and gratifying feeling of success when you beat your previous score by even one or two numbers. Some will “rage quit” and other will trudge on, over and over again, until they get past JUST...ONE...MORE...PIPE!
Will the success last? Who knows. But you might as well give it a try, unless you are one of those obesssive/compulsive types that might let a game like this interrupt your daily routine on a constant basis. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!
Flappy Bird is available from .GEARS Studios on the App store (iOS) and Google Play (Android).