Mobile Watch: Flappy Bird

In the kingdom of mobile gaming, the bird is most certainly the word, as proved once again by this week’s pick. Developed by Vietnamese indie, Dong Nguyen, Flappy Bird has recently gone from nothing to become an App Store chart-topper.

What many don’t know is that Flappy Bird actually came out in May 2013. Presumably the game garnered a bit of interest before completely going under the radar. Even after an iOS 7 update back in September it was only last month that Flappy Bird truly started to take off.


The game itself is mind-blowingly simple. In fact, I would go as far as to say it’s the simplest game I’ve come across on a mobile device. Using one finger, your job is to navigate Flappy Bird through a series of pipes, each tap resembling the beat of a wing. The more you tap the higher you soar.

There is only one stage and every time the sequence of pipes is randomly generated in terms of where the gaps appear. As for distance, it’s the same throughout, hence creating a sense of rhythm as you pass each one. Misjudge the tempo or distance and you’ll smash straight into one of the Mario-esque green pipes, forcing a restart.

The key to Flappy Bird’s addictiveness is just how quick it is to jump straight back in. Ads, though abundantly present, relegate themselves to the far ends of the screen and never interfere. Therefore, after crashing into an obstacle, your first instinct is to hit that start button and begin flapping all over again.

Outside Flappy Bird’s single mode there is nothing in the way of content. This, as well as the game’s elementary design, actually peg it as quite a rubbish game. However, its emphasis on score-chasing and all-round simplicity has struck a chord with thousands of device owners all over the globe. Though I am beginning to agree with the former statement, Flappy Bird is still remarkable from the perspective of a game critic.

The real question is how long Flappy Bird can continue to captivate its legion of players. Nguyen and publishers Gears have yet to do anything with the game though could quite easy “do an EA” and begin to monetise it with skin packs and whatnot. On the other hand something tells me the developer is prepared to leave Flappy Bird just how it is – unadulterated. A temporary milestone in gaming history that will no doubt fade from memory as so many mobile games do.



  1. Remarkably similar to this:

    Just a bird, not a helicopter. :P Also, a little birdy told me, someone’s working on a PS Mobile port of that Helicopter Game (with permission from the original game’s creator…). So keep your eye peeled!

  2. 3 days I played this.

    My high score was 18.

    After nearly setting my phone on fire and smashing my face into a wall I decided to uninstall it.

  3. It’s a pretty good indicator of the state of mobile gaming when stuff like this floats to the top.

    • Not sure what that’s supposed to mean. Wasn’t this hugely popular because of being featured on PewPewDie’s show?

    • Just my personal opinion. Never heard of that show.

      • PewPewDie is the world’s biggest YouTuber. 22 million subs, I think. What I’m saying is the world starting playing Flappy Bird after he talked about it.

        The same could then apply about almost anything as simple and consise. I don’t think the game’s recent popularity should be regarded as disparaging.

      • It seems to me that a handful of comparitively poor mobile games get all the limelight and revenue when most efforts sink without ever managing to turn a profit.

        Anyway, mass-popularity does not necessarily equate with good in my book, for instance.. gagnam-style.

      • That’s my point: whether the game is good or not is largely irrelevant because it’s the sudden influx of gamers that saw the game on YouTube that’s propelled it up the charts.

      • I’ll have a look at the channel later and see if i’m missing anything ;)

      • You’re not.

        Seriously how anyone can find him eentertaining is beyond be. Honestly, if you watch and enjoy him, do everyone a favour and remove yourself from society.

      • Wonder how much he got paid to promote the game on his YouTube channel..

  4. It’s the mobile equivalent of flipping coins, or twiddling a pencil, except this needs your eyes, not so much a game as it is a habit that requires your full attention. Genius simplicity, but I can’t help but feel the random nature of it is cheap compared to needing to learn the levels.

  5. It’s very simple and similar in concept to a lot of flash games. It does demonstrate a number of concepts which many other games could do with picking up on though. Immediacy, no micro-transactions, unobtrusive adverts, good competitive friend support.

    34 over here :)

  6. I swear you’ve only put this article up to engage me!
    Whilst I know that isn’t true, I hate flappy bird.
    It shouldn’t be allowed to exist, it’s utter garbage. Everything about it if awful. The graphics, the gameplay, the sound design. It has no right to be popular, yet it is.
    He’s spent a very short development time and very little money making this. There are some much better games that cost a lot more to make and took a lot longer that get largely ignored.
    I hate it ane everything it stands for.


    • It’s very simple in terms of ideas, structure and content, but it very, very much so is a game.

  8. arghhhhhhh!
    uninstalled after about 5 mins..
    practically impossible to play on a phone…
    and the fact that phones don’t bounce off walls.

  9. The collision detection isn’t quite right which just makes it that much more infuriating. I got 36 but my flatmate got almost double that, so I’ve deleted it.

  10. My friend has 145 :| I dunno how the hell she does it, my highest is like 11.

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