Just one glance at the iTunes and Google Play app charts makes it patently clear that mobile gamers have gone a little cuckoo over games about birds.
Following the unprecedented success of Angry Birds, a new winged character has taken flight: Flappy Bird.
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. To date, it has received nearly 500,000 four-star reviews in the iTunes store.
And that’s not all. Nguyen has two other games perched high atop the iTunes charts -- likely resulting from enthusiastic word-of-mouth about Flappy Bird. These include Super Ball (#2) and Shuriken Block (#6).
Perhaps most bafflingly, Nguyen told the app development blog Chocolate Lap Apps that the growth of the games has been entirely organic. “I didn’t use any promotion methods,” he said.
Flappy Bird has been described as infuriatingly difficult to win and is characterized by a rudimentary graphic display and extremely straightforward (read: nonexistent) storyline. Players must continually tap on their touchscreens in order to navigate a bulgy-eyed yellow bird between green pipes -- not unlike those traveled by Super Mario himself.
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.
While piggybacking on buzzwords -- like “birds” -- has proven effective in an increasingly congested app market, it has also raised legal eyebrows. 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.
While Flappy Bird’s meteoric success is the kind that is simply impossible to predict, Nguyen himself seems the most shocked of all. “I don’t know how my games can be so popular,” he told TechCrunch. “Most of my players are kids in schools.”