What Was Flappy Bird?

rip flappy
Flappy Bird (2013-2014) was a game for the iPhone which, in the span of perhaps a month, half a year after it was uploaded, rocketed up the charts of the App Store and became The Game of the Moment before being deleted by its creator for reasons that remain unclear. It was a maddeningly difficult challenge in which you played a small bird, cursed to move forward, forced to tap the screen to stay afloat. You existed in a world of pipes: Pipes grew upward from the ground, emerged downward from the heavens, never to meet. Only by drifting through the narrow space between the pipes could you survive.

The bird looked like those circular leaping piranhas from the Mario games. The pipes looked like those pipes from the Mario games. The ground, shown as a cutaway with beige dirt and a thin strip of striped green grass, looked like the ground from the Mario games. But Flappy Bird was unrelated to the Mario games; it was made by one dude from Vietnam, who says he created it in two or three days, which sounds about right. Joe Bernstein at BuzzFeeᴅ writes:

Purposefully or not, it scans as a parody of the bird games, Angry Birds and Tiny Wings, that dominated, and continue to dominate, the paid section of the app store. Everything from the inane name to the single, simple mechanic feels like a piss-take. Though the game is made by an apparently sincere developer from Hanoi, it could just as easily be the work of an indie mischief-maker.


Flappy Bird was terribly difficult; you got one point for each pipe-gap you flew through, and it was not uncommon to score only two points, or one point, or no points at all. Your entire game may have lasted no more than a few seconds. Flappy Bird was free, so dumb garish ads filled the top of the screen, distracting you from a game in which the only way to play was to slip into a zone of mindless concentration. Like many of the smartphone games that dominate our entire lives for a few days, Flappy Bird was a twitch game, a game entirely dependent on reaction time. New pipe gap at the top of the screen: must time trip up there perfectly.

And now it’s gone.

Nguyen says he is not removing the app due to legal issues, for example the specific legal issue that his game is obviously visually trading on the Mario games. Instead he says:

Flappy Bird has now been removed from the App Store. It remains on the phones of those who downloaded it before it was pulled, and some of those phones have appeared on eBay, selling for absurd amounts of money, supposedly.

Or you can just download one of the other games that are basically the same thing. This one looks fine.

RIP Flappy Bird. My high score was 16.