If you are a frequent internet user, you would have been exposed to the highly addictive, extremely challenging, seriously frustrating yet equally enjoyable Flappy Bird. It looks very simple at first, but as you begin to play, you understand how tough it is to take your score into 3 digits.
Keeping all this aside, how did such a simple game with zero-promotion made it to the #1 Free Game on the App Store? One more astonishing fact about this game is that it helped the Game Developer Dong Nguyen rake in 50,000$ per day in ad revenue. Yes, you have heard it right! 50,000$ per day in ad revenue. You do realize how big is that amount when you convert it into your own country’s currency.
Previously, I had written article on “How To Master Flappy Bird”? which you may like to read.
In an interview with The Verge, Dong Nguyen revealed that the game, which has been sitting atop the App Store and Google Play Store charts for nearly a month, is earning on average $50,000 a day from in-app ads. He chose AdMob for monetizing which is a leading global mobile advertising network that helps app developers monetize and promote their mobile and tablet apps with ads.
Forgetting financial figures for a while, let us focus on the events that led to the popularity of Flappy Bird.
Flappy Bird’s original name was Flap Flap but it was changed to Flappy Bird due to an existing app on the Apple App Store with the same name. The game had Nintendo-style graphics, and looked inviting. Dong Nguyen said he managed to build Flap Flap in just two days.
Flappy Bird made its App Store debut on May 24, 2013. According to app-review data pulled from the App Store, the game attracted just 13 reviews between May 25 and Oct 31.
In September 2013, Nguyen released his first update to Flappy Bird. It fixed a few bugs, and he added a new icon for iOS 7. The game continued to toil in obscurity for another six weeks. Then, something interesting happened. Flappy Bird entered the “Family” category at 1469 on Oct. 29, 2013, which means it was the 1469th most popular Family game in the App Store, according to App Annie.
On Nov. 14, Flappy Bird entered the U.S. game charts, coming in at 1368, according to App Annie. By this time, the game had climbed to 393 in the Family category. The game started to gain momentum in these two categories through the month of November.
Flappy Bird managed to earn 20 reviews in November. Many of those reviews expressed a love-hate relationship with the game. On Dec. 3, 2013, Flappy Bird officially entered the overall App Store charts, coming in at 1308 in the U.S. At this time, the game was ranked 74 in Family and 395 in U.S. games.
By this time, the game was so popular in the App Store that people started asking for an Android Version of this game. On Dec. 11, Dong Nguyen returned to his Twitter account, and replied to a user asking for an Android version of the app that it will be out soon.
By Dec. 13, the game had cracked the top 250 for free apps in the U.S., the top 80 for U.S. games and ranked 14 in Family. Twitter users started expressing their frustration over the difficulty of this game with funny memes. Some felt like throwing their phones or destroying them for not being able to master such a simple looking game. Tweets related to Flappy Bird contributed to a smaller percentage of it’s success.
Main Story Lies Ahead, Keep Reading………
Flappy Bird also started gaining 20 reviews a day. People gave it either a full five stars or one star rating, with many expressing their hate feelings but still addicted to playing it again and again.
Flappy Bird jumped from nearly zero downloads to thousands in December, something that is usually achieved through buying installs or you can call it paid marketing. However, there is no evidence that any money was spent on paid marketing.
This is one of the main reason for Flappy Bird’s Success an aspiring Appreneur would be pleased to know:
“Most developers focus on number of installs, but the important thing to note here is that Apple also pays close attention to user reviews and engagement.”
App Store Ranking = (Number of installs weighted for the past few hours) + (Number of installs weighted for the past few days) + REVIEWS (star rating + number of reviews) + Engagement (Number of times app opened etc.) + Sales ($)
Some even complaint that Dong Nguyen might have used a bot service initially to download and review his game, but there was something more simpler than an illegal method that was implemented for the wave of user reviews: an unintentional pattern or a dark pattern.
As you can see, there is a rate button at the middle of the screen where the user would normally tap to play this game. This is what you call an unintentional pattern or a dark pattern.
The game interface was designed in such a way to pull the users to the App Store to write a review which the users won’t do intentionally. The user’s sub-conscious mind remembers where the play button used to reside as they die, and quickly taps there, opening an App Store review page instead.
This button placement increased the App Store reviews for this game and so this App kept on ranking higher, also considering the number of downloads. On January 9th, Flappy Bird hit the milestone of 90 reviews in a single day. By the 12th, that number doubled and by the 17th, it doubled again. The game no one cared about was up to over 400 reviews a day. On the 18th, over 600 and on the 19th, more than 680.
On 22nd January, Flappy Bird set a new record of 800 total reviews. On February 1st, reviews exploded to 800 in a single hour. 6,500 iTunes App Store reviews in a single day. February 1st is the day Dong Nguyen woke up, stretched, checked email,
checked Twitter, checked iTunes, and witnessed millions of downloads happening. Mission Accomplished!!!!!!
This game became so popular that even App Store tweeted their High Score
This was one part of the long story that led to the viral success of Flappy Bird. The second part of the story is just icing on the cake. If you are a frequent youtube streamer, then you may have come across the most subscribed youtube sensation Felix Arvid Ulf Kjellberg, better known by his online alias PewDiePie who is a Swedish Video Game Commentator. Just take a look at the Social Blade stats and you will come to know how much popular he is.
On 27th January, PewDiePie uploaded a video telling his subscribers not to play this game. Being Humans, our minds are programmed to do the exact opposite whenever we are told not to do a certain thing and this is what happened. Plenty of PewDiePie Subscribers downloaded this game. By the way, he is PewDiePie in case you didn’t know.
Touch Arcade also wrote an article about Flappy Bird which also contributed to it’s success. Flappy Bird was the Number 1 Free Game on the App Store on 26th January, but these two events also contributed to the viral download of this game.
It’s not sure whether Dong Nguyen paid PewDiePie to give a paid review of his game. According to Sources, PewDiePie charges more than 10k $ to play a game and showcase it on his channel. So, whether he paid PewDiePie or not will always remain a mystery.
This sums up the entire story of Flappy Bird’s Success. If you like our article, Please Like Us on Facebook and Share this Article with your Friends.