The Success of Flappy Bird ~ DecryptedDrive

Saturday, 8 February 2014

The Success of Flappy Bird

UPDATE: Flappy Bird developer has stated that he will be taking down the viral sensation from the Android and Apple app stores within 22 hours. The reasons for this remain unknown, however, he states that he hates the game and that he wishes to get back to his previously simple life. He also states that he hasn't sold the rights to the app, and is still intent on developing games.

Do those unflinching eyes conceal something from the mere casual glance you afford them as you desperately tap in rhythmic obsession, avoiding obstacle after obstacle (after obstacle)? The sense of impending doom is always present, the knowledge that life is horribly fragile, saved for a moment, only to be extinguished later. The brutally comedic thud signifies that all is lost. But in honour of your actions you are given a monument in the form of a number, and an option.

Flappy Bird's success is something curious in and of itself; something no one could have foreseen. A few nights after work were spent on it by its developer, and yet it has been downloaded 2 to 3 million times and brings in $50,000 in advertising revenue. Per day.

Needless to say, it has left many other developers scratching their heads and asking the existential questions of life. How could such a simple game capture and entertain an audience so large, when they themselves spend many hours polishing and refining ideas to perfection?

For those unfamiliar, Flappy Bird's gameplay consists of tapping the screen to keep the bird, (we think it's a bird, but only because of the title) above the ground. Each tap causes the bird to "hop" up for a moment before plummeting in the direction of Earth. As simple as this sounds, it is crushingly difficult. Merely grazing one of the infinite pipes will send the bird tumbling to its demise. Upon death, you are awarded with a number, a medal, and the option to start again.

The game is undeniably "fair". There is nothing to get in the way of your performance, every single time you load up the game it will be the exact same difficulty. Everybody is on an even playing field. This, in addition to the love / hate relationship people have with the game, aided its rise to fame, as people shared their scores around, as well as the app. Also key to its success may have that it is easy to pick up, but difficult to master. It's very reminiscent of older, similarly sadistic titles back when gaming first began to gain popularity.

And that's why it should be considered a game, regardless of how simple it seems. Not all games have to be cinematic masterpieces with glorious visuals, and Flappy Bird's popularity is proof of that. 

As always, thanks for reading,