Why was Flappy Bird so popular?

An employee plays the game Flappy Bird at a smartphone store in Hanoi.
An employee plays the game Flappy Bird at a smartphone store in Hanoi.
Credit: Getty Images

Apparently, we’re all Flappy Bird addicts: When Dong Nguyen, the Vietnamese creator of the popular mobile game, announced that he’s removing it from online stores, it became big news.

What makes the simple app so popular when other, flashier games are not? Metro spoke with Vili Lehdonvirta, a research fellow at Oxford University’s Oxford Internet Institute.

What’s the secret behind Flappy Bird’s success?

If you look at what’s inside the game, the retro visual style borrows from classic games like Super Mario, which invokes nostalgia in the user. The other important aspect is the fact that it requires skill. Most games no longer ask for such know-how. They’re easy to learn, so to get good, you just have to play them often enough. Flappy Bird, by contrast, is unforgiving, so success feels meaningful. As a result, if you’re successful, you’re quite ready to share your experience on social media. Other games push this very hard, but since they’re not very difficult to master, it’s almost embarrassing to share the fact that you’ve done well. It just means that you’ve spent a lot of time playing Farmville.

But Flappy Bird got a lot of criticism…

Yes, a lot of praise and a lot of criticism. It created controversy (questions have been raised regarding whether bots were used to boost its app chart popularity), which helped it become a phenomenon. It was like, if you’re not playing Flappy Bird, you’re missing out. But its success is also down to chance. Even if you followed all these steps, it’s not certain that your game would be successful. In fact, now there are a lot of copycats, and they’re wondering why they’re not doing well even though they have the same features.

What does the success of Flappy Bird, a game created by one man in Vietnam, mean for Silicon Valley?

Indie games like Flappy Bird are becoming bigger because they have access to users through channels like the app Store. They go against the current design paradigm, and they rely the makers’ artistic sense rather than market research when they create their product. I wouldn’t be surprised if game companies start incorporating Flappy Bird aspects into their design paradigm now. But indie success like Flappy Bird is short-lived. In order to survive, you have to grow, and that means you have to start paying attention to the market. Angry Birds did that and turned itself into a media franchise, but many indie game makers don’t want to go down that route.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

US military tried, but failed to rescue journalist…

The U.S. military earlier this year tried to rescue journalist James Foley and other American hostages held in Syria ,but failed to find the captives.

National

Fate of captured beluga whales in hands of…

A Georgia aquarium went to court on Wednesday seeking federal permission to bring 18 captured beluga whales to the United States from Russia.

Local

After Eric Garner death, religious leaders meet to…

Interfaith leaders convened with city officials to discuss what the community can do to help dial down heightened tensions after Eric Garner's death.

Local

'Suspicious' Hamilton Heights fire caused by power strip:…

An extension cord overload caused the deadly fire in Hamilton Heights late Monday that killed a 15-year-old girl and injured at least 12 others.

Movies

Review: 'Sin City: A Dame to Kill For'…

The belated sequel "Sin City: A Dame to Kill For" makes one question whether the first one may have been not so hot. Still, Eva Green vamping!

Television

'So You Think You Can Dance' recap: Season…

And then there were six. It was a big night on stage as the Top 6 got to dance with each other, All-star partners and perform a solo routine.

Going Out

5 things to do in NYC this weekend…

FILM Lebowski Fest Aug. 22-23, 8 p.m. Various locations, Manhattan $20-$30, www.lebowskifest.com The Dude abides — for 48 hours to celebrate the 1998 Coen brothers classic.…

Television

'Doctor Who' personality profile: the 4 Doctors

When the time comes for a new Doctor, there's always some anxiety over the big question: Who will he be? The series owes its longevity…

NFL

Giants expected to work Corey Washington into first-team…

The day of reckoning for the Giants' fringe players will fall upon them Friday night against the Jets.

NFL

Jalen Saunders still unsure what caused car accident…

Jets rookie wide receiver Jalen Saunders spoke to the media Wednesday for the first time since his car accident, but he didn't say a whole lot.

NFL

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL…

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL defense (DEF)

NFL

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL…

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL quarterbacks (QB)

Sex

Online dating for every generation

Frank Jackson and his mother Maggie are like lots of modern families: They have dinner together regularly, keep each other updated on their lives —…

Wellbeing

Going green could be the key to getting…

If we could just pursue the things that would actually make us happy, we could help the environment too, according to a New York researcher.…

Wellbeing

Metabolic syndrome could have a sugar link

Scientists in St. Louis may have found another culprit in metabolic syndrome, which can lead to heart disease and type 2 diabetes.  Uric acid is…

Wellbeing

Another way stress hurts your unborn baby

Mothers know to try staying calm during pregnancy, as stress has been linked to behavioral and developmental problems for their babies. But now, a new…