Move over Angry Birds because there's a new kid in town who has come to take your spot - or DID come to take it, should we say. Meet Flappy Bird, the crazed new smartphone game that has consumed media headlines of late. Sadly, the only way to find the tiny yellow creature now is by searching for it on the Web, as the game's developer, Dong Nguyen, has withdrawn it from app stores due to the publicity "ruining his simple life," according to reports.
So why did Flappy Bird gain such a presence in the spotlight? Launched in May 2013, the app has been downloaded more than 50 million times in the App Store, making it this year's most popular game. After just a few months Flappy Bird went viral globally, being promoted almost entirely by social media users. More than 22 million subscribers also reviewed it on a YouTube channel. What is most noteworthy, however, is its reported ad revenue, with claims that it has garnered an average of $50,000 a day. Interestingly, Flappy Bird's only monetization strategy seems to be that of in-app advertising, namely banner ads - a marketing move that some argue is a waste of time.
It’s a game developer's dream, we hear you say. Or perhaps not, according to Nguyen. According to reports by Forbes, Flappy Bird is dead permanently and has fallen victim to its own success. That’s right, the tiny bird that gave fans hours of amusement while they steered him through a difficult obstacle course of metal pipes, is no longer.
"Flappy Bird was designed to play in a few minutes when you are relaxed," Nguyen told Forbes. "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."
Ouch. But what about all that wasted ad revenue potential it was raking in? Fear not, Flappy fans. It’s not going anywhere. Firstly, Nguyen’s decision to remove the game from the app stores has made everybody want it more. Hundreds of phones with Flappy Bird installed have suddenly appeared for sale on eBay at enormously inflated prices: "Buy it now" for $10,000… really?!
Secondly, and of more importance, arguably, is that the game isn’t really going anywhere. Tens of thousands of people downloaded it, and the same tens of thousands will continue to play it – especially now that the headlines have made it become so darn popular. OK, so users may not benefit from any further updates to the game, but we can all live without that, can’t we? And with the huge numbers of Flappy Bird addicts still continuing to play the game, ads will still be served and the countless amount of impressions will still be piling in. Needless to say, Nguyen won’t be abandoning Flappy Bird as a poor man any time soon.
"What's kind of ironic is that the app is probably making more money now than it was a week ago," says Krishna Subramanian, ex-co-founder of mobile ad network Mobclix, in an interview with CNet.
Subramanian added that Nguyen’s decision to shut down the game could be seen as a stroke of "marketing genius" considering the overwhelming amounts of attention, last-minute downloads, and huge numbers of hours of Flappy Bird game play.
"Anyone who has the app on their phone will continue to generate revenue and push ad impressions. The more people who are addicted, the more ad revenue it's generating."
Nguyen didn't respond to a request from ClickZ for comment sent via Twitter.
Last week, Flappy Bird had an average four-star rating from more than 543,000 reviews in the Apple App Store and 228,000 on Android.
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Melanie White is the Editor of ClickZ, where she has worked since July 2012. White has been with Incisive Media (ClickZ's parent company) since 2009 where she was Deputy Editor/ US Editor for one of the financial risk management titles, International Custody and Fund Administration (later Custody Risk).
In addition, White worked on FX Week where she was a Senior Reporter. She has also worked and contributed to a number of other titles, including The Accountant, International Accounting Bulletin, the New York Post, Independent Magazine (UK), as well as the broadcast title Sunday Live with Adam Boulton at Sky News.
Yuyu Chen is an Editorial Intern at ClickZ. Her work has appeared in Local East Village, New York Daily News and Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce website. Yuyu received her M.A. in Business and Economic Reporting from New York University in May, 2013.
March 19, 2014