Flappy Bird: The Addictive Flight

I am sorry ‘Flappy Bird’ users, 22 hours from now, I will take ‘Flappy Bird’ down. I cannot take this anymore.

–       Dong Nguyen @dongatory

ImageExactly 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


4 thoughts on “Flappy Bird: The Addictive Flight

  1. WOW.. I have only merely heard about this game from a coworker who’s kids play it. I tried to play it on the computer once and could not make it through the first pipe, so I gave up and never tried again. I am baffled that a free app make so much money. Its truly amazing that this game cause such an addiction in people, to violently react against one another. It’s also amazing to know that people really do have feelings and a conscience, and would would give up money for happiness. This is a great story and post that i never knew about.


  2. I heard about Flappy bird some months ago because a lot of my friends played it. I wasn’t so interested much about it as I thought it was just some kind of trendy game that comes and goes until I saw somebody played it on a train just several days after it was taken down from the app store. It caught my attention real quick as I think it carries good components a game should have — KISS which are Keep It Simple Stupid.
    The game is not complicated, its rules are so easy and, yes, it’s stupidly fun! It’s undoubtedly why people are addicted to Flappy bird. I’m sure I would become one of them if I had this game on my cellphone.


  3. This game is so fascinating to me. Simply from an aesthetic stand point, there’s nothing amazingly appealing about it. It looks like a Mario knockoff at some points, but with that said, its simplistic goal of trying to get the bird to the end whilst levitating is quite addictive. I myself have spent some time trying to figure it out. The creator claims he removed it because it was too addictive amongst some other reasons, but there are others out there who believe this might be one of the greatest marketing ploys of our time. With him saying he is thinking of bringing it back, I can only see his wallet getting fatter for the foreseeable future.


  4. WOW this is crazy. Violence over games. I have never heard of such. But I guess its like the teenager who killed his parents for taking away his iPhone. I understand the addictive nature of games, but to me I guess its never really that serious to take it personally. It is crazy how something so simple and seemingly innocent can turn into such a negative thing.


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