Flappy Bird's Demise: 10 Things to Know About the Game's Rise, Fall

By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2014-02-13 Print this article Print

Flappy Bird and the events surrounding the rapid rise and sudden disappearance of the popular mobile game are straight out of a soap opera. Since the game came along in May 2013, it attracted massive amounts of attention in a short period of time, but its creator removed it from the Apple App Store and Google Play Feb. 10. He cited distractions from the game's rabid fans and his desire to live a quiet life, but gamers couldn't accept these explanations. For the millions around the globe who obsessively played the game, Flappy Bird mattered more than anything. Many who witnessed an online drama surrounding Flappy Bird might feel sympathy for the game's creator, Dong Nguyen. But there are probably just as many who wish the game was still available. But as Nguyen himself pointed out, Flappy Bird is dead, whether users like it or not. Judging by his reaction to the events surrounding its popularity, it's unlikely that the game will ever reappear—at least in the form he originally created. This eWEEK slide show takes a look at the factors that led to the game's meteoric rise and sudden demise.

  • Flappy Bird's Demise: 10 Things to Know About the Game's Rise, Fall

    by Don Reisinger
    1 - Flappy Bird's Demise: 10 Things to Know About the Game's Rise, Fall
  • Flappy Bird Wasn't Always a Hit

    There's a general sense, because of the recent news surrounding Flappy Bird, that it was always a hit. The truth, however, is that it wasn't. Flappy Bird actually launched last May and didn't become a fan-favorite until January 2014. Exactly how it jumped from obscurity to worldwide popularity isn't well understood at this time.
    2 - Flappy Bird Wasn't Always a Hit
  • Flappy Bird Brought In Serious Cash—We Think

    The Verge reported recently that Nguyen made $50,000 a day at the height of the Flappy Bird popularity. Some reports have said that he didn't actually make that much money. Nguyen wouldn't confirm what he made each day, saying only that he was generating a boatload of cash. It's odd, then, that with all that cash coming in, he decided to take the app down from marketplaces.
    3 - Flappy Bird Brought In Serious Cash—We Think
  • It Wasn't Popular Among Critics

    Although Flappy Bird's popularity soared, it really wasn't an instant hit. In fact, the game received middling reviews in app stores. On Metacritic, a place where reviewers' evaluations are all combined into a single score, the game could only muster a rating in the mid-50s. Based on the critics' sentiments Flappy Bird's sudden popularity might seem odd. But it just goes to show that the critics aren't always right.
    4 - It Wasn't Popular Among Critics
  • Nguyen Has Other Games

    Nguyen is actually an accomplished game maker. He currently has two other games that are fun and somewhat popular and is reportedly planning to launch other titles in the coming months. Although Nguyen has backed away from Flappy Bird, he is still very much in the game business.
    5 - Nguyen Has Other Games
  • Addiction Stands at Root of the Game's Demise

    Speaking to Forbes in an interview recently, Nguyen said that his decision to take down Flappy Bird was steeped in his concern with game addicts. He said that he saw that many gamers became addicted to the title and didn't play in the spirit of how it was designed: casual fun.
    6 - Addiction Stands at Root of the Games Demise
  • Rabid Fans Also Played a Part

    Rabid fans were also at the center of Nguyen's reason to get rid of Flappy Bird. He reported that people were sending him emails, were obsessive over the game and created havoc in his daily life. What was supposed to be a fun game turned into an obsession for gamers who couldn't accept anything short of perfection.
    7 - Rabid Fans Also Played a Part
  • Nguyen Got Death Threats

    According to Nguyen, he received death threats after taking down Flappy Bird. He didn't name names, but said that he was genuinely concerned for his safety. Assuming that's true, it's understandable why he might want to get away from app development for a while.
    8 - Nguyen Got Death Threats
  • Copycats Quickly Sprung Up

    If the Internet is anything, it's a place where copycats run amok. That's why it's no surprise that several Flappy Bird copycats have cropped up across operating systems and application marketplaces. Some developers saw an opportunity for quick success, and the cash that went with it, and pounced. It was inevitable, but still sad to see. It remains to be seen whether any of the copycats see any success.
    9 - Copycats Quickly Sprung Up
  • Used Devices Running Flappy Bird Went On Sale

    Here's an odd twist in the story. Some people decided that rather than update their devices and let Flappy Bird just fade away, they would try to sell the devices on eBay with a copy of Flappy Bird on it. As of this writing, one auction reportedly has a top bid of $99,900, while another is more than $90,000. Are they really serious? Is an iPhone with Flappy Bird really worth that much money for a few hours of fun? And how long will it hold its value given how quickly games fade from popularity?
    10 - Used Devices Running Flappy Bird Went On Sale
  • Malware Creators Pounced

    This should be no surprise to anyone, but malware creators also pounced on the Flappy Bird fiasco. According to Sophos and Trend Micro, several applications claiming to feature the Flappy Bird functionality (and in some cases, calling themselves Flappy Bird) have cropped up in third-party Android app stores. Upon downloading them and trying to launch them, they, in some cases, force folks to text their numbers to a third party. Upon doing so, charges are billed to their wireless bills. It's a malware-ridden world.
    11 - Malware Creators Pounced

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