I am sorry ‘Flappy Bird’ users, 22 hours from now, I will take ‘Flappy Bird’ down. I cannot take this anymore.
– Dong Nguyen @dongatory
Exactly 22 hours after his Twitter post, Dong Nguyen took ‘Flappy Bird’ down from Google Play and the Apple App Store on February 10, 2014. The 2D retro style graphic game was simplistic. And the side-scrolling motion made it possible for the bird to take flight. Yet, if the gamer did not tap the screen gravity would bring the bird to the ground ending the game.
The young developer began programming at the age of 16. Nguyen was successful in his endeavors; landing him an internship at one of the only gaming companies in Vietnam, Punch Entertainment. His analysis of games such as ‘Angry Birds’ and others like it on the market was seemingly too complex for people “on-the-go”. Nguyen set out to create a game for people to relax, to play for a few minutes and take a break from the day. Hence his creation: ‘Flappy Bird’.
But once ‘Flappy Bird’ hit the market it was an instant success. The game released on May 24, 2013 and shortly after began earning approximately $50,000 per day without any advertising. Nguyen stated, “[He] never used advertising for this product. ‘Luck’ was the part of it.” However, there was more than just ‘luck’. In-game advertising was utilized to get people to notice the game. There are multiple ways to advertise within a game – statically, also known as having the brand located within another game. Once coded into the game the information cannot be changed unless by the programmer and re-released. There are also banner ads and billboard-like ads that line the perimeter of the game leading the gamer to click on an eye-catching advertisement and led to a store for download. Nguyen did not advertise outside of in-game advertising; however, due to the popularity of the game many programmers believe bots were used increase growth. While others speculated, Nguyen stuck to his marketing tactics and held the most downloads for 2013.
‘Flappy Bird’ held the top of the download charts, yet trouble for the game occurred when reviews came in stating the game was irritating, addictive and extremely difficult. Gamers would download the app and play for hours, attempting to beat their high score of 5. Rolling Stone reviewed the game stating the game has an “irritating and addictive nature”. People did not want to stop playing the game even after this breaking news.
Chicago teenager Gary Wright, 16, was playing ‘Flappy Bird’ with his brother Jabari Wright, 19, at their home. Jabari beat Gary’s high score and taunted Gary with his high score of 17. Gary stabbed his brother 17 times before calling the police.
The addiction to the game kept people downloading it after this tragic occurrence. Nguyen was said to be unable to sleep at night. He received death threats for his Tweet about taking ‘Flappy Birds’ down and suicide claims. Yet that did not stop Nguyen. Once the game was taken down his sleep regulated from a clear conscience.
The Entertainment Software Association. (n.d.). – In-Game Advertisting. Retrieved June 10, 2014, from http://www.theesa.com/games-improving-what-matters/advertising.asp
Teen Arrested For Killing Brother Over ‘Flappy Bird’ Game. (n.d.). YouTube. Retrieved June 10, 2014, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fz5DfZ90NoY