The Rise and Fall of “Flappy Bird”
By Brandon Fern
Live Wire Web Reporter
You’ve heard people talking about it, you’ve seen images on social media sites, and you may have even stumbled across a video or two about it. However you may be asking yourself: What is Flappy Bird, and why is it so popular?
Flappy Bird is a mobile game for the IOS and Android operating systems. Created in Hanoi by Vietnamese based developer Nguyễn Hà Đông (don’t ask us how to pronounce it), and published by .GEARS Studio, also based in Vietnam. The game is a 2D side scroller where tapping the screen keeps Flappy Bird aloft, as he moves forward with no additional help. As referenced in the quick summary i just gave the gameplay is relatively simple: tap the screen to keep Flappy Bird flying, and help him move through a Mario pipe-esque Gauntlet. Hitting the pipes causes the game to end, as well as having him hit the ground. the games gives you a score of how many pipe sets you flew through, and a medal for making it through 10 pipe sets and up, with the medal changing every 10th set passed through (i.e. bronze for 10, silver for 20, gold for 30, and so on and so forth).
The game was released on May 24, 2013, with support for iPhone 5 as well as iOS 7 support in, however it didn’t gain the popularity it has now until January of 2014, when it became the most downloaded game on the App Store. The Android version came out January 30, 2014, and was reported by The Verge to be earning $50,000 solely from in-game advertisements. The popularity of the game was praised by Apple, who tweeted their own score of 99.
On February 8, at 2:02 p.m., the developer tweeted that he would be taking the game down in 22 hours, stating “I cannot take this anymore”, anymore being the constant hounding of the press due to the success of the game. He said in another tweet that while he calls the game a success, he hates how it ruined his simple life, so he hated it and in another how the press was overrating the success of his games and how he wanted peace. Nguyễn also believed that the game was causing problems, akin to a drug addiction, “Flappy Bird was designed to play in a few minutes when you are relaxed,” Nguyen said, according to Forbes. “But it happened to become an addictive product. I think it has become a problem. To solve that problem, it’s best to take down Flappy Bird. It’s gone forever.” There are infact people who claim to have tweeted that they have a problem with Flappy Bird, with one person saying it ruined their marriage. “I don’t know how long I’ve had this game, an hour, eight hours, it could be days. Time works differently when you play it. My wife took the kids to her mother’s two high scores ago. We argued about something but I don’t know what it was about. I was too busy playing Flappy Bird. I didn’t go into work today, but when my boss called I ignored it and continued to play Flappy Bird. My phone is charging now, but I can still hear the joyful beeps in my head and the flapping of the bird at all times.
I can’t sleep, I can’t eat, not until I’ve beaten my high score.” Nguyễn stated that the move had nothing to do with legal issues or the similarities to the mobile game “Piou Piou Vs. Cactus”, Nintendo has also refuted the rumors of their involvement in the games “death” saying that the game being pulled off the app stores has nothing to do with legal actions on their part, and Nguyễn confirmed the statement. He stated that he still makes games but can no longer take Flappy Bird, and on February 9th, almost 22 hours after the tweet was sent, Flappy Bird was pulled off the App Store and Google Play. However if you still have the game you can still play it, and there are clones and “imitators” available on the app stores and online such as Flappy Bert a sesame street themed version of the game, Flappy Fish, Amazing Cupid, and Squishy Bird, an internet version of the game where you use the pipes to kill the birds. However, if using an Android phone you need to be careful as some clones downloaded from the web can contain malware that will rack up your phone bill. The icing on all this is that people are selling iPhones and Androids on eBay, for thousands of dollars, with the highest selling for over $99,900.
So if you still have the game, appreciate the simplicity of it, like Star Wars fan appreciate the unedited footage of A New Hope. If you still have the itch to play, check out one of the clones and imitations, or Squishy Bird. While it’s no longer available for download, the legend of “Flappy Bird” lives on, and will be one we tell our grandkids years later.