Over the last few weeks, my Facebook feed has occasionally forced upon me images of this little pixelated bird flying between pipes that look like they came from 8-bit Mario’s world. Apparently, these pictures came from a frustrating yet addictive game called Flappy Bird. I dismissed this game the same way I initially dismissed Candy Crush Saga requests – as something too meaningless and faddish and probably dumb to really catch my interest. I figured if it was any good, it would stick around and down the line I’d download it and check it out.
And then, suddenly, creator Dong Nguyen announced he was pulling the game. I gasped, wondered where I could download Flappy Bird before he completely eradicated all traces of its existence, started contemplating if I should get it for my Android phone or my iPad, then got a work email I had to respond to and promptly forgot all about it. Then I went on with my day, because I am a mom and I have crap I have to do.
Sure enough, Flappy Bird is no more. As I write this phones loaded with Flappy Bird are being offered on eBay for thousands of dollars, Kotaku is issuing mea culpas for possibly contributing to bullying that maybe led Flappy Bird’s creator to shut it down, people are debating the little app’s merits (great endless game with lots of genuine buzz, or terrible time-waster inflated by bots and ripping off Mario, Grand Theft Auto and everything else?). And I missed the whole thing.
I’m fascinated by all the buzz, generated over a game that existed for just a few months. Flappy Bird reportedly took just a few nights to make, and was made available for free because its developer felt he couldn’t charge for a game that simple. The game, during its lifespan (and it’s been available since mid-2013), generated something like 146,000 reviews – many of which were put up on the last day, and the tongue-in-cheek nature of which helped make it even more popular. BuzzFeed created an article, which right there means You’ve Made It and Every Idiot Knows What This Is. Slate.com and even The Atlantic have weighed in. Flappy Bird, at the time of its demise, was bringing its creator $50,000 a day in ad revenue. This is a great story, right? With a strange ending.
The popularity of the game may have been too much for Nguyen, who probably took it down so he didn’t have to deal with haters, critics (did I mention it’s a FREE download?) and other folks displaying bad behavior. All asking for more from the game’s creator, making him feel overloaded and out of his depth (as seen on his Twitter feed). Well, at least, that’s my interpretation of why he quit. And now he’s getting death threats too.
See, this is why we can’t have nice things. Thanks to the Internet and people, I won’t ever get to play Flappy Bird and decide for myself if I like it or not. Unless I’m willing to shell out $6,000 for this iPhone with Flappy Bird installed (spoiler alert: I’m not). Not that I’m actually blaming everyone (or anyone). I’m just thinking that this hyper-critical modern world we live in today, full of instant feedback, faceless comments, a forum for everyone, and out-of-control virality, can sure be a mixed bag.
And as a result, Flappy Bird has flown off into the sunset, hopefully dodging green pipes along the way. I’m just going to have to find another game to play.