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Flappy Bird is a mobile game in which the player controls a flying bird by touching the screen to flap its wings and navigate between a series of pipes without any contact.
Flappy Bird was created by Vietnamese developer Dong Nguyen and released by dotGears Studios on Apple’s iOS app store on May 24th, 2013. In the game, the player assumes the role of a pixelated flying bird and must guide it safely through a series of obstacles while keeping it afloat by pressing on the touch screen.
On November 17th, 2013, Redditor Bronxsta included Flappy Bird in a list of “masochistic” iOS games submitted to the /r/iosgaming subreddit. On January 17th, 2014, Redditor Transizzleator submitted a post urging viewers to “help Flappy Bird take off” to the /r/gaming subreddit. On January 27th, YouTuber PewDiePie uploaded a video in which he plays Flappy Bird (shown below), which gathered more than 5.4 million views and 45,000 comments in the next week.
On January 30th, the game was released on the Google Play store. By the following day, the game had reached the top downloaded spot on both Google Play and the Apple App Stores. Also on January 31st, the iPhone app company Chocolate Lab Apps published an interview with Nguyen about Flappy Bird’s success, who claimed he did not promote the game at all. Meanwhile, the tech blog Bluecloud Solutions published an article speculating that Flappy Bird used bots to artificially augment its App Store rank, pointing out the strange sudden rise in popularity of Nguyen’s apps and several similarly-worded reviews left on the Flappy Bird store page (shown below).
On February 1st, the tech news blog Tech Crunch published an article about Flappy Bird, noting that his other games “Super Ball Juggling” and “Shuriken Block” had reached the App Store’s #2 and #6 spots respectively. On February 2nd, Redditor ducksizedhorses submitted a post comparing Flappy Bird to the flash game titled “Helicopter Game” to the /r/gaming subreddit, where it accumulated upwards of 14,600 up votes and 770 comments in the first 24 hours. The same day, Redditor H00PSHER posted a screenshot of a Flappy Bird game with edited Nyan Cat-themed textures to the /r/teenagers subreddit (shown below, left). On February 3rd, Redditor VirtualWhopper posted a Flappy Bird image macro with the caption “You don’t win / You just eventually delete the app” to the /r/gaming subreddit (shown below, right).
Removal From App Stores
On February 8th, 2014, Nguyen tweeted that although Flappy Bird was a success, he hated the game for ruining his “simple life.” Several hours later, Nguyen posted a follow-up tweet announcing that he would be removing Flappy Bird from app stores in 22 hours, adding that it had “nothing to do with legal issues.” The same day, Redditor iamacowgod submitted a screenshot of the tweet to the /r/gaming subreddit, where it gained over 18,800 up votes and 3,800 comments in the first 48 hours.
I can call 'Flappy Bird' is a success of mine. But it also ruins my simple life. So now I hate it.— Dong Nguyen (@dongatory) February 8, 2014
I am sorry 'Flappy Bird' users, 22 hours from now, I will take 'Flappy Bird' down. I cannot take this anymore.
— Dong Nguyen (@dongatory) February 8, 2014
On February 9th, the game was taken down from both the iOS app store and Google Play. The same day, Redditor city18 posted a backup copy of the Android version of the game to the /r/AndroidApps subreddit. Also on February 19th, Redditor moonchav posted a link to a text only version of the game to the /r/WebGames subreddit. In the coming days, the app removal was reported on by several news sites, including IBI Times,CNN and CNET.
In a February 2014 interview with Forbes, Nguyen explained that he felt compelled to cancel the game due to its addictive nature.
“Flappy Bird was designed to play in a few minutes when you are relaxed. But it happened to become an addictive product. I think it has become a problem. To solve that problem, it’s best to take down Flappy Bird. It’s gone forever.”
Despite Nguyen’s statement, rumors soon began to spread on gaming-related discussion forums that the creator of Flappy Bird decided to remove the app due to legal pressure from the Japanese video game company Nintendo, whose universally popular Super Mario video games has been frequently cited by the critics of Flappy Bird as the source of its inspiration. On February 10th, Nintendo’s spokesman officially denied the rumors of legal threats or future plans for such action.
However, in March 2014, Nguyen refused to rule out the possibility of a relaunch in an interview with Rolling Stone, followed by an announcement of his plan to eventually re-release the game, and revealed that the game would return in August with multiplayer capability in an interview with CNBC’s Kelly Evans.
On May 15th, 2014, Nguyen tweeted a photo which he suggested was part of a new game he is developing.
Shortly after Ngyuen’s announcement of the removal of Flappy Bird from app stores, several parody versions of the game for iOS, Android and web browsers began to surface. A text-only version of Flappy bird titled “The Pipes Are My Solitude” was posted on the website Philome, which displays descriptions of a bird flying through pipes each time the player clicks the word “Flap” (shown below).
A browser game Flappy Doge was created, in which the player clicks the screen to navigate the “Doge” Shibu Inu character in between pipes (shown below, left). The Nicolas Cage-themed Flappy Bird mod was released on iOS, in which the player controls the actor’s disembodied head (shown below, right).
A modification featuring a tipping fedora which navigates through cans of mountain dew was made available for both iOS and Android (shown below, left). In addition, a Super Mario Flappy Bird mod was released on iOS, in which the player controls the character Mario to jump in between pipes (shown below, right). The Flash game “Flappy Bird Therapy” is an easy version of the game, which moves the pipe gaps in sync with the bird’s height.