THE APP THAT’S GOT EVERYONE IN A FLAP

THE APP THAT’S GOT EVERYONE IN A FLAP

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The success of Angry Birds – the Finnish app that saw irritated birds catapulted towards bad, green pigs – has forged the way for global, mobile gaming since 2009.

So popular is the game that it inspired spin-off versions, such as Angry Birds Star Wars and Angry Birds Rio, and has become something of a licensed empire, with an endless stream of branded goods available, from Angry Birds bedding sets to onesies.

However, it was only a matter of time before a competitor usurped Angry Birds from its App Store throne.

Introducing… Flappy Bird. Devised by Vietnamese developer Dong Nguyen (@dongatory), the now deceased game topped the free downloads chart on the App Store even until yesterday. The cause of both joy and frustration, Flappy Bird totted up over 50 million downloads and had smartphone users (myself included) hooked. With thousands of news articles, memes and Vines created as an ode to the pixilated yellow bird, the game really has had the world in a flap.

Despite bringing in an estimated daily advertising revenue of £30,000, Nguyen decided to remove Flappy Bird from the App Store yesterday, after he struggled to cope with its snowballing success. Unfortunately, the developer had drawn criticism from the gaming world for the so-called ‘plagiarism’ of Flappy Bird’s graphics, which shared similarities with Nintendo’s much-loved Super Mario, and the almost impossible task of achieving a high score (mine remains at a measly four).

Following a series of tweets threatening to remove the game, at just after 5pm GMT last night, the developer did indeed kill Flappy Bird for good and it disappeared from the App Store completely.

At first it seemed like Nguyen was throwing the baby out with the bathwater. But could the untimely disappearance of Flappy Bird in fact be part of a larger, more complex marketing strategy?

Arguably, the app has done wonders for Nintendo. As rumours swirl about whether the Japanese gaming giant threatened to sue Nguyen over Flappy Bird’s ‘plagiaristic’ graphics, the game has certainly struck a chord and reignited consumers’ nostalgia for 80s platform games – no doubt generating a surge in downloads and sales at the same time.

Regardless of the reasoning behind Flappy Bird’s demise, it’s early fall from grace and now ‘limited edition’ status has guaranteed that the entire gaming world is waiting with baited breath for the release of Nguyen’s next app. Now if that’s not guerrilla marketing, I’m not sure what is.