The $99,000 Bird

“Flappy Bird”, ever heard of it?  If you never downloaded or played the game, you probably heard people complaining about it on Twitter or bragging about their scores on Facebook.  What began as a simple game for mobile gadgets quickly became a nationwide fad, one that disappeared even faster than it rose.


In May 2013, creator Dong Nguyen debuted his creation “Flappy Bird” in the App Store (Akash, 2014).  The game received little attention for the first few months, but following an update, entered the U.S. game charts at 1,368 (Akash, 2014).  As more people downloaded the game and announced their frustration on social media (the game is infamous for being challenging), its popularity rose.  By February 2014, “Flappy Bird” was ranked as the No. 1 free app in the United States and 52 other countries (Akash, 2014).  This success generated a reported $50,000 in revenue daily for Nguyen, a payday that most people would gladly accept (Akash, 2014).  However, Dong Nguyen did not agree.


On February 8th, 2014, the creator tweeted that he would take down the app from the store, saying, “I cannot take this anymore” (Akash, 2014).  This was not an idle threat, as the app was taken off the app store and created chaos among the avid users.  Despite receiving death threats and suicide tweets, Nguyen has kept the app off of the store (Akash, 2014).  The reasons behind his decision to remove the game are up for debate as there are a few different theories.  Some argued that the game was borderline plagiarism because of its design similarity to the highly popular to the 1985 “Super Mario Bros” which prompted Nintendo to demand the game be taken down (Akash, 2014).  Others were skeptical that the game’s popularity resulted from bot technology and this put pressure on Nguyen and his creation (Akash, 2014).  Nguyen denied all of these rumors and states that the addiction caused by the game became a problem and provoked him to remove the game from the store (Akash, 2014).


No matter what the reasons are, nobody can buy “Flappy Bird” from the app store anymore.  That being said, those who had already downloaded the game can still access it.  This lead to a spike in demand for phones with “Flappy Bird” downloaded onto them, a demand that reached astronomical numbers.  Many iPhones were posted on eBay following the discontinuation of the app, and the bidding soared to heights no one expected.  One iPhone with “Flappy Bird” reached a price of almost $99,000 from 74 bids with six days left on the auction (Elise, 2014).  This phone, and the others who were reaching similar prices, were removed by eBay without much of an explanation (Elise, 2014).  While this upset those who were auctioning off their “Flappy Bird” equipped phones, the extreme demand for the game will develop other ways of keeping the addictive app alive.


Akash, K. (2014, February 11). Ebay cancels $99,000 flappy bird iphone auction along with other similar devices. Retrieved from

Elise, A. (2014, February 14). ‘flappy bird’ game deleted: The rise and fall of the most addictive mobile game in years. Retrieved from

4 thoughts on “The $99,000 Bird

  1. I’m not sure if I buy the “I took the app down because I didn’t like the addiction I was creating” excuse. I feel like Nguyen took Flappy Bird down because he knew he’d created an impossible app and the technology wasn’t there.


  2. I agree with the previous comment. This article sparked my interest in the popularity of apps. It’s so interesting how an app with a non-existent follower base one day can turn into the most popular app in over 50 countries the next. Word-of-mouth seems to be the most popular type of advertising for game apps.


  3. I think the whole Flappy Bird phenomenon is so strange in general and definitely says a lot about the direction our culture is going. An app generated so much buzz and created a place in pop culture simply because of how difficult it was, which seems absurd to me. I understand addictions to games but the fact that the creator was receiving suicide threats is so insane, what does that say about our generation? We don’t have anything better to do than become obsessed with a free app that can be downloaded to smartphones? The amount of buzz it generated on social media is incredibly interesting and would make for a good study. I completely understand why the creator chose to take it down, it’s almost like the world took something that was intended to be fun and ruined it.


  4. The whole flappy bird situation is so interesting to me. The guy created something so addicting, but when the popularity became so incredible he couldn’t take it anymore. But this kind of popularity IS crazy…who sells their iphone on ebay for 100,000 dollars just because it has an app on it? And who is the person who actually buys it?


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