Indie Discovery – Flappy Bird

Yeah. Erm. Okay.

Right, I’m going to be frank about this. Flappy Bird is one of the best AND worst examples of mobile and Indie gaming today. Let me explain why. However, before I do, let me just explain what Flappy Bird IS . . . don’t worry, this won’t take long!

Flappy Bird is a free, ad-supported game for Android and iOS. In it, you must guide a small bird through a side-scrolling obstacle course of pipes with gaps in. In order to do so, you must tap the screen to make the bird fly upwards against the very strong gravity setting; if you don’t keep tapping, the bird will plummet to the ground like a lead balloon. Each time you pass through a gap in the pipes, you get one point. Hit the any solid surface and it’s game over.

That’s it. That is literally it. You will struggle to find a more simplistic game, and incidentally you’ll also struggle to find a more addictive, infuriating game around today. You’ll spend hours failing at anyone of the first 5 pipes, and then you’ll slide unconsciously into a sort of zen where you’ll hit 50+ points. You’ll then spend another few days trying to replicate that success. It’s free, it’s simple and it’s addictive, and that is the perfect recipe for gaming crack cocaine.

It’s addictive enough for many people to overlook the fact that the art is clearly ripped straight from the Super Mario series. It’s lightweight, quick to play and this outweighs the buggy collision detection and imprecise controls. It’s free and the ads it displays are small, which serves to counteract the absolute lack of content and dearth innovative and interesting features.

It feels like a gamejam game; a project that was made in about 48 hours (it actually was), and just thrown into the wilds of the mobile market place. It’s a game that is so basic, so shoddy and so horrifyingly addictive that I honestly don’t know whether to congratulate or denounce the developer.

Flappy Bird represents the duality of the current mobile game market in an eggshell; It’s simple and addictive, but at the same time it’s clearly lacking in originality and effort. It’s both shovel-ware and a breakout hit. It proves that any game developer can potentially hit it big on the mobile market, and it proves that we as a consumer base are perhaps more easy to please than we thought.


I won’t link to the game because you probably already have it. If you don’t, I’m not going to be your enabler. Play at your own risk.


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