What happened to Flappy Bird?

Flappy Bird is a mobile, arcade-style side-scroller game where players endeavor to fly birds between green pipes without hitting them. The game was created by Vietnamese programmer and video game artist Dong Nguyen in 2013.

Flappy Bird was an instant success, surpassing 50 million downloads in the first few days after its release and earning Nguyen over $50,000 per day in advertising revenue. In February 2014, however, Flappy Bird was removed from the App Store and Google Play despite becoming the most downloaded free game for iOS the previous month.

Negative reviews

Despite its popularity, the game was not immune from negative reviews. Some criticized Flappy Birds for its extreme level of difficulty, while others believed Nguyen had blatantly copied ideas from the Mario Bros franchise. However, there was never evidence that Flappy Birds had infringed on any copyrights.

It was also alleged that Nguyen had purchased installs from bot farms to make the game appear more popular than it actually was. But when one considers the advertising revenue he collected, this seems unlikely.

Shutdown

In early 2014, Nguyen announced he would be shutting Flappy Bird down forever: “Flappy Bird was designed to play in a few minutes,” he said in an interview with 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 was also apparent that the creator was uncomfortable with the sudden fame to which he was exposed. Nguyen was bombarded with interview requests from national and international news outlets and even appeared on television in Vietnam. 

Of course, Flappy Birds remained available to play on smartphones that had downloaded the app before it was pulled. Some of these phones were placed on auction sites to be sold off before they too were removed for violations.

Rebirth

Six months after Flappy Birds was shut down, a game called Flappy Birds Family then appeared in the Amazon Appstore for Fire TV. Amazon confirmed that the multiplayer version of the game was from the same developer, though it did not disclose whether any money changed hands.

Wisconsin-based electronics firm Bay Tek Entertainment then released an arcade version of the original game in 2015 on a 42-inch screen with a single, giant red button to control each bird. 

Key takeaways:

  • Flappy Bird is a mobile, arcade-style side-scroller game where players endeavor to fly birds between green pipes without hitting them. The game was created by Vietnamese programmer and video game artist Dong Nguyen in 2013.
  • Flappy Birds was ultimately shut down because Nguyen was uncomfortable with the game’s addictiveness and did not enjoy the increased attention he received from the press. 
  • A family edition of Flappy Birds reappeared in the app store for Amazon Fire TVs a few months later, with the eCommerce giant confirming that it was from the same developer. An official arcade version was also released in 2015.

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