Game Over: The Flappy Bird Phenomenon


On February 9, 2014, “Flappy Bird,” a popular mobile game sitting at the top selling spot in both markets was taken down from the iOS App Store and Google Play. Dong Nguyen, the creator of Flappy Bird, announced on the 8th on his Twitter that he couldn’t “take it anymore,” nothing that it was not due to legal issues, he was not planning on selling it, and he will still make more games, two of which are sitting at #4 and #18 in the iOS store, respectively.

Screen Shot 2014-02-09 at 7.49.29 PM

This move was highly perplexing to many people, including game users and marketing analysts alike. Game users, who did not understand that they would still be able to play Flappy Bird once it was deleted, took to Twitter to complain, some of whom threatened Nguyen’s life.

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Some marketers speculated that this may be a ploy to create what they call a “Disney vault” effect – it increases demand for the app right before it is removed in order to maximize profits of a “dying” product. Paul Tassi checked the App Store yesterday and saw Flappy Bird had 75,000 reviews. He checked again today and saw that it had 146,000. Tassi attributes this jump to a large number of new downloads, most likely because of the news that the viral game would be removed and many people wanted to check it out before they could no longer do so.

Flappy Bird became a sensation, as players took to Twitter to complain about the difficulty of the game that inspired their addictions to playing it. People created memes and YouTube videos addressing the difficulty of the game. Speculators claim that this attention along with much negative criticism inspired Nguyen to delete the game.

If attention was what was bothering Nguyen all along, deleting the app was surely not a way to resolve that problem. Nguyen has gained over 60,000 Twitter followers in the past 24 hours, which is five times the amount he previously had. He also will continue to make revenue from the app as long as players keep the game on their phones, so deleting it does not solve the money issue. He also will continue to make money with his other games that are sitting in the top 20 apps in the iOS store right now.

Personally, I am confused on what his motives for deleting the app were, and I think most people out there are too. Tassi says, “Perhaps it’s more accurate to view Nguyen as a lottery winner rather than a talented author or singer who finally hit the big time. He bought a ticket by making his simplistic game, and through nothing short of magic and luck, it exploded. And I don’t think I need to tell you that many people who win the lottery end up having their lives ruined by the windfall.” I agree with this viewpoint because it seems that is what is happening to Nguyen – his app went viral, became wildly successful, and now is affecting his life negatively.

I also think this scenario illustrates the problems that come with the Internet and technology. Threats to kill Nguyen show how addicted players are to Flappy Bird – granted, I’m not sure how many of these threats should be taken at face value but I think that threatening to kill someone is a serious claim no matter how funny a Twitter user thinks he or she is. This futher perpetuates the stereotype of addictive technology. It also shows how technology can have such a negative effect on someone, as Nguyen is obviously undergoing a painful situation and had to resort to deleting a multi-million dollar game because of the problems it was creating.




Langer, E [EliLanger]. (n.d.). Tweet List [Twitter page]. Retrieved February 9, 2014

Nguyen, D [dongatory]. (n.d.). Tweets [Twitter page]. Retrieved February 9, 2014, from

Tassi, P. (2014, February 8). ‘Flappy Bird’ Creator Says He’s Taking the Game Down.
Forbes. Retrieved from

Tassi, P. (2014, February 9). ‘Flappy Bird’ Creator Follows Through, Game Removed
From App Stores. Forbes. Retrieved from

Tassi, P. (2014, February 9). The ‘Flappy Bird’ Shutdown is a Diabolical or Accidental
Genius Act of Marketing. Forbes. Retrieved from

4 thoughts on “Game Over: The Flappy Bird Phenomenon

  1. I read your post for the very fact that Flappy Bird is a very popular app at the moment and basically anyone with an iPhone and Twitter know what it is and most likely own the game, me included. I find it hard to believe that the game could have caused the creator THAT much harm and I think maybe he did it for some type of marketing strategy, maybe the disney one you mentioned… It will be interesting to see what happens with Flappy Bird over time..


  2. I don’t really understand why he decided to delete the app…isn’t the whole point of creating an app to have it become popular? I’m a bit skeptical as to how the game caused him so much trouble, but I’m curious to see if he’ll decide to open it up again since it’s such a huge success.


  3. I think this could be a PR stunt!! Its a clever way to see how bad people want the app and once it comes back (if it comes back) everyone will know about it and want it! I don’t understand why he would take it down, but I guess it was a good idea in some way…


  4. I have never heard of this app till recently because of the buzz around it, but emiller11 makes a really good point that it could be a PR stunt! They’re creating all this buzz about the app and when it comes back (which im sure it will) people who haven’t heard about it may be curious from hearing about its’s come back.


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