Just as the games mechanics compel the bird to rise and fall, Flappy Bird has risen from obscurity before coming crashing down amongst a media circus. How and why a small indie game coming out of the game design wilderness of Vietnam has caused such a furore in such a short period of time. An unassuming game to look at, with simple 2D art style and game mechanics familiar to anyone who has played the old Helicopter flash game. It is strange what can become a viral hit in the modern video game industry, Flappy Bird doesn’t innovate with new gameplay mechanics or even a terribly unique art style. However neither of these facts has stopped the highly addictive game from climbing to the top of the app download charts. Does it demonstrate the random and fickle nature of gamers or is it the virality of the game that helped it on its rise to prominence.
“I wonder if the creator of the Helicopter game harbours any notion of envy for Flappy Bird’s whirlwind success.”
As stated above the game is essentially the Helicopter Game, with a bird taking the place of the helicopter. The game challenges the player to fly the vertically challenged fowl through a series of green pipes that of course in no way resemble those of a certain Nintendo game. The player is rewarded for each set of pipes that they manage to pass through, the game becoming increasingly harder the longer it goes on. For most getting through the first few pipes is the initial stumbling block, with the bird’s controls been erratic at best. Flying like it’s the birds first day out of the nest not used to operating its wings. This been the main attraction of the game as it’s the difficult that is frustratingly addictive. If the player could simple pass through several pipes with ease, the appeal would be lost. Whereas a player who manages to make it past ten sets of pipes has a huge sense of achievement and wants to try again for more. Flappy Bird could be classed under the genre of a masocore game. The masocore genre of games are defined as containing trial and error gameplay with intense difficulty, which is designed to frustrate the player. The choice of platform has also served the game well as the smartphone is the new home for casual gaming. Although how many Apple and Android devices has been damaged in fits of rage over a miss timed finger tap leading to an abrupt end in flight.
“As soon as it started to climb the download charts, clones started to appear. Some looking to cash in on the craze others just creating humorous pastiches.”
The games creator similarly followed the path his games titular character and has come crashing down after a short lived ascent. Dong Nguyen a developer hailing for Hanoi, Vietnam is the focus of a media storm that has been revolving around him over the last few weeks. Interestingly the game had been on the market for the more than six months before it saw its surge in popularity. The game was released on the app store in May of last year but only came to the attention of the gaming community in early January. Its spike in the rate of downloads so long after its release has led some to question Dong Nguyen on suspicion of market manipulation. Nguyen has not made any official comments on the alleged use of shady methods to increase its rank in the app store. Not that any of this matters as the game has now been pulled from both the Apple and Google app stores. Nguyen citing the stress and unexpected attention he came under due to the games popularity, as the one of the reason for the games removal from the market. He has also stated that he is unhappy about the levels of addiction that people are experiencing with Nguyen’s intention to create a game that players would pick and play on a casual bases. It seems like Nguyen has decided to take the moral high ground and save gamers from his highly addictive game.
“$4,999 is a little ambitious by this seller. Nobody can be that desperate to play this game, can they?”
As soon as the game was taken down on the 9th of February, outrageous offers were placed on smartphones with the game pre-installed on online auction site eBay. Some “Flappy Bird Devices” demanding in the region of $10,000 as a starting price, even though selling devices with pre-installed software goes against eBay policies. Those who missed the boat and want to experience the addictive frustration of Flappy Bird but lack deep pockets to shell out for a pre-installed smartphone. Can look no further than one the numerous clones that immediately sprang up in the wake of the games success. It’s not at all surprising to see other developers looking to leech of the success of a popular game, but now with the original off the market the clones stand a good chance to have their own moment in the spotlight. Splashy Fish an Ironpants the two apps battling it out be crowned the new Flappy Bird successor. Flappy Bird stands as a testament to our modern age, were success is instantaneous and is only present for a fleeting moment before it falls back into obscurity. With the game of the market and its creator looking to return to a private life, how long can its popularity last? It would be a surprise to hear that the game still been talked about in a few months’ time. Unless this is all just a massive PR stunt and Nguyen is going to return to the limelight with the announcement for Flappy Bird 2?