In just a few weeks time, Flappy Bird became a global phenomenon. A simple, yet addictive game, Flappy Bird was designed and built by Dong Nguyen, a developer who lives in Vietnam. Initially designed for the i-phone, the game made its debut in the app store on May 24, 2013. The app continued to gain popularity and by February 1, Flappy Bird was the number one free game in 53 countries in the app store.
And just like that, Nguyen became a star overnight. The Vietnamese had earlier revealed in an interview that the app was making $50,000 a day, off of advertising revenues. However, success often comes at a heavy price and soon there were questions over how the app achieved such success. Some users began calling out Nguyen over Twitter, and though he initially seemed to take it in good humour, it was clear by February that the negative attention had got to him. He later revealed that he was receiving death threats and hate mails over the app and admitted to be overwhelmed by its success. On February 8, he made a stunning announcement that Flappy Bird was going to go away and within days, the app was removed from the app store and google play. Nguyen said that the popularity and the backlash he received from his app has ruined his ‘simple life’ and that he couldn’t take it anymore.
It is the perfect example of how a mundane app with addictive features can go viral thanks to social media and word of mouth. It also highlights the negative aspects of social media and while it can take someone to unprecedented heights, it can also pull them down easily with anonymous and hateful comments. Flappy Bird came like a storm and left almost mysteriously.