Here’s When ‘Flappy Bird’ Returns to Waste Your Time

Flappy Bird

Indie developer Dong Nguyen told CNBC reporter Kelly Evans that his wildly popular Flappy Bird game could return to iOS by August.

In a televised interview with Evans, Nguyen said that the game would add a number of new features to its next iteration, including multiplayer. “I will make it less addictive,” he added. (In previous interviews, he expressed concern that people spent too much time playing his game, distracting them from work and school.) He also alluded to the pressures of fame, which originally led him to yank the game from the App Store in February, despite earning a reported $50,000 a day in ad revenue.

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Flappy Bird asks the player to guide a stubby-winged bird through a maze of vertical pipes; touch any of the pipes, and Game Over. The challenging gameplay is widely cited as one of the reasons behind its immense popularity: Players keep resetting and replaying to see if they can raise their score by just a point or two more.

Why did Flappy Bird succeed so spectacularly when thousands of other iOS apps launch and disappear every week without a trace? A lot of hungry developers would like to figure out the answer to that question. Simplicity is a key element: When someone pulls out their phone, it’s often to complete a quick task or spend a few minutes playing a mindless game; an overly complex app is unlikely to be used more than once or twice. An intuitive (and hopefully innovative) UI is also important. But the trickiest part—aside from actually building the software, of course—is promotion: How do you make your app stand apart from the hundreds of thousands already out there?

Nguyen claims that interest in Flappy Bird grew organically over the course of several months (an assertion that more than one analyst has disputed). If you take that at face value, he’s a huge beneficiary of word-of-mouth. For everybody else, though, getting attention for your app is still a grind: trying to get people to review it, trying to get it featured in publications, trying to get other developers to cross-promote it, and so on. But for a lucky few, such effort could result in the next viral hit.

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Image: Dong Nguyen

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