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Flappy Bird May Soar Again

Flappy Bird May Soar Again

Flappy Bird's creator apparently has steeled himself. After withdrawing the maddeningly frustrating game from app stores earlier this year -- citing death threats, fear it was ruining lives, and angst that translated generally into "I just can't take it any more" -- Dong Nguyen has tweeted that the bird will be back. The game may seem dumb, but the marketing? Brilliant.

By Kris Holt
03/20/14 2:00 PM PT

The mobile game Flappy Bird seemed dead and buried, but a tweet from its creator suggests it may yet rise from the ashes -- perhaps not quite like the phoenix.

In response to a Twitter user asking whether the game would return to Apple's iTunes App Store, Dong Nguyen responded, "Yes. But not soon."

Independent Vietnamese developer Nguyen released the game last May after creating it over the space of just a few evenings. It suddenly surged in popularity at the beginning of this year, soaring to the top of both the App Store and Google Play, with many gamers becoming fans of its quirky graphics and simple yet difficult-to-master game play.

Nguyen was making as much as US$50,000 in ad revenue from the game every day, he claimed.

Negative Impact

However, in February, Nguyen removed the game from both marketplaces.

He was tired of being besieged by press in his homeland and was concerned that the game was having a negative impact on people's lives, Nguyen said in an interview with Rolling Stone. He mentioned that he had received emails from people who had lost their jobs and had heard of a mother who no longer talked with her children because of their addiction to his game.

If he ever should reinstate the game,Nguyen said, it would come with a warning to players to take a break once in a while. It is not clear why he has decided to release the game once more.

Nguyen did not offer a timeline on when Flappy Bird would return, other than to respond to a Twitter user by suggesting he would release the game again when it is ready.

The re-release will not be the original Flappy Bird, but a "better" version, he said, adding that he is also working on some other games.

Flood of Clones

During Flappy Bird's hiatus from the app marketplaces, dozens of games that clone its mechanics and visual style have been launched on the App Store and Google Play. At one point, a new clone reportedly was launched on the App Store every 24 minutes. Some replace the bird controlled by the player with popular culture icons such as Miley Cyrus and Sesame Street character Bert.

Despite the flood of competition from the clones, there's every chance that Nguyen's title will recreate the hysteria it caused before he pulled it.

Even if the popularity does not quite reach the same level as before, it could reach "certainly something close to it," Susan Schreiner, an analyst at C4 Trends, told TechNewsWorld. "It became a cause célèbre when the developer pulled the game."

'Marketplace Hunger'

"It spawned all of these other clones," Schreiner added. "They all seem to be doing well, so there does seem to be a hunger in the marketplace for something like this. I do think that if it came back on the market, there would be people that would right away get it for fear that it would disappear again."

Speculation has been rife that Nguyen's decision could have been a marketing scheme to drive interest in Flappy Bird.

"That could very easily have been a ploy because he increased the scarcity and the supply went down, and demand -- because now that it's got notoriety and it's got press -- is going to go up, marketing expert Lon Safko told TechNewsWorld. "When he opens up the floodgates again, he's going to get another rush, and that's going to drive pay-per-click revenue through the roof."


Kris Holt is a writer and editor based in Montreal. He has written for the Daily Dot, The Daily Beast, and PolicyMic, among others. He's Scottish, so would prefer if no one used the word "soccer" in his company. You can connect with Kris on Google+.


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