How Flappy Bird App Generated $50,000 A Day

Laxman PapineniGrowth Hacks, Growth Marketing3 Comments

Flappy bird revenues

The story of Flappy Bird is quite interesting.

In a world where developers spend months after months coding and programming games and apps, Dong Nguyen a developer from Vietnam, spent a few nights coding this gaming app when he returned from work. He says he didn’t spend more than three days on it.

Then he had no idea that he was creating an app which would sit atop the Apple App Store and Google’s Play Store for almost the entire month of January 2014 and will generate $50,000 a day from in-app ads.

Also he didn’t know that the game would become so addictive that by the end of that month he will have to withdraw it!

He said in an interview to Forbes – “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.”

The level of addiction can be judged by the fact that after it was taken down many clone apps stormed the app stores with names like Flappy Plane, Flappy Whale, Flappy Penguin and Flappy Angry Bird.

Just type in “Flappy Bird” in Google and you will come across several websites which will allow you to play a game almost exactly like the original, for free.

Also, after its removal from the app stores, many second hand smartphones mushroomed across eBay which were being sold with the original Flappy Bird app installed. A new iPhone normally costs around $650 or so and eBay witnessed phones being sold from $300 to $5,000 with the game installed. One auction for a white iPhone 5 even reached the price of $90,000 (!) after 62 bids by 18 different bidders.

ebay flappy bird installed

eBay flappy bird installed

The game is all about flapping a bird. The screen will host a pixelated bird which will keep falling towards the ground and you will have to propel him in the sky by continuously tapping the screen. Many pipes will emerge which will move from the right side of the screen to the left and you will have to save the bird from colliding with any of them.

The game will go on forever. Your purpose being saving the bird from collisions and the further you can travel the more points you will make.

Difficult to play

Despite this simple setup the game is very difficult to play. Unlike other games which begin with an easy level and then go on to more difficult levels, Flappy Bird is difficult from stage one.

And perhaps this is one of the main reasons why it was so addictive.

flappy bird difficulty

flappy bird difficulty

You see people who played the game thought at first sight – “Oh, it’s so easy. I will break all records in one go.”

But when they actually sat down to break the records they couldn’t help but collide with the pipes. This raised questions in their minds that why can’t they win such a simple game? They wanted to prove to themselves that they are not stupid. The game required skill. Hence they persisted in playing it.

Super Mario is back

Super Mario Game

Super Mario Game

The other reason could be that the pipes of Flappy Bird looked exactly like an old game called Super Mario. Who hasn’t played Mario in his/her childhood? So the imagery invoked feelings of nostalgia.

It was a good idea to draw some elements from an old classic. Mario was immensely popular in its days. Why not follow in its footsteps?

No graphics

Unlike the other games Flappy Bird had no special graphics or sound quality. Hence it invoked a lot of criticism from some people. Some even went on to say that it should not even be called a game.

But others, who were enjoying the game, came to its rescue. They said if you don’t like it then don’t download and play it. The result was a big clash between the two parties which gave it a lot of buzz on the Internet.

There possibly could be many more reasons for its success. In such situations, it’s very difficult to put a finger on some causes and then claim that these were all the reasons for the app’s success.

After all, the clones of Flappy Bird have not seen the same amount of success.

Anyways I hope you would have gotten something of value from this article. Do let me know what you think by posting a comment below.

About the Author

Laxman Papineni

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Co-founder at - Growth Hacking Toolkit for Mobile Apps, that helps businesses to identify and implement right growth hacks with no coding required.