Flappy Bird is the newest viral video game phenomenon. It was first made available in May last year but has recently picked up traction, with thousands of people taking to Twitter and the app’s review section to complain that it has taken over their lives.
Created by Dong Nguyen of dotGears, an indie game studio based in Vietnam, Flappy Bird is currently the No. 1 free app on both Apple and Android devices, and in the view of AmongTech it could outdo “Candy Crush Saga” as the most-popular mobile game of 2014. To date, it has received nearly 500,000 four-star reviews in the iTunes store.
The essence of the games is pretty simple, as you just have to make the bird flap its wings by tapping the screen and navigate it through a series of gaps in pipes. Each time the bird flies through a pipe, the user scores a point. While it might sound easy, getting through even two or three pipes without the bird falling to the ground has proven too difficult for many infuriated users.
The game was initially uploaded in May, but has only recently captured public attention. It is a free program that features ads but offers none of the in-app purchases that have made games like Candy Crush Saga so immensely lucrative.
However, some critics believe the game’s massive success is due to the use of bots, or fake accounts run by computers, to falsely create downloads or reviews, says International Business Times.
“Looking at some of the top apps in the store by creator Dong Nguyen, I hate to say it, but it looks really similar to bot activity,” Carter Thomas, of Internet marketing company Bluecloud Solutions, said in a recent blog post.
“Of course, I can’t prove this and there are strong cases for lots of different potential growth strategies, but I do want to bring this up to engage a discussion and get industry leaders to weigh in with some analysis so that we can find out how this happened.”
Nevertheless, Candy Crush is still the top grossing game on iOS and Android, making an estimated $875,382 a day, so it looks as if Flappy Bird still has a long way to go. The latest figures from Think Gaming show that Flappy Bird has 144,660 daily new users, while Candy Crush is down to 34,715 and Angry Birds 24,792. However, its daily revenue is yet to be released.
Candy Crush developer King even successfully filed a trademark claim on the word “candy,” while Zynga owns a trademark for the phrase “with friends,” originating from its massively successful Words With Friends app.
Flappy Bird’s success has come as a pleasant surprise even to Nguyen himself. “I don’t know how my games can be so popular,” he told TechCrunch. “Most of my players are kids in schools.”
Dong’s other games – Super Ball Juggling and Shuriken Block – follow a similar pattern as Flappy Bird, with simple screen press mechanics winning the day.