Flap…Flap, flap flap flapflap flap…flap…flap. Flappy bird has this week bulldozed its way up the app charts reaching the number one spot on the charts on both android and iOS beating knocking the giant which is Candy Crush Saga and other King titles off the top spot. But why is this game so successful?
Game Mechanics: The game is very simple you play as a bird who flaps its wings every time you tap on the screen. Players have to navigate the flappy bird through obstacles which resemble the green pipes seen in Mario Games. That is it. With such a simple control system it has allowed this simple game from publisher Gears to be picked up and played almost instantly. It simplicity makes the entry barrier as low as can be and the small app makes installation a 2 second job. Players efforts are scored and a different coloured medal is earnt for players reaching a certain score milestone eg. silver at 20.
Random: the obstacles generation of pipes which you have to pass between is random. Making the game more difficult and giving the player the sense that they could reach a higher score next time around if luck is on their side.
Simplicity: It’s simple in terms of controls, monetisation (because there is none), downloading (because its small and free) and gameplay.
Frustration and competition: The key elements which have allowed this game to rise. Players are scored by the number of obstacles they manage to pass, and believe me they are simple to pass but often you’ll find yourself getting annoyed because you tapped the screen one too many times and your flappy bird has hit the pipe. Candy Crush Saga nailed this too, balancing randomness with frustration at the player just missing out on their goal makes the player want to play again to beat the game immediately. Happily with flappy bird there are no lives and no in-app purchases allowing player to play to their hearts content.
Competition comes through the scoring system and players being able to lord their high score over their friends. I even found myself doing this this weekend with my girlfriend, causing us both to be playing at the same time just to reach a score the other couldn’t surpass.
Quick burst gameplay: The game is very easy to play and can be easily picked up and put down. The shot burst gameplay caused by players inevitably dying and retrying the level means it can be played in those little gap moments in our lives. Like when you’re waiting for a bus or on the train.
No in-app purchases: With no in-app purchases this game doesn’t look to be one of the highest earners for Gears but with in-app advertising at the top of the screen. They may just have a quick winner here like Rovio did with their early in-app purchase free Angry Birds.
Familiarity: With a look similar to Mario especially with the pipes and background and coupled with simple controls like those in Jetpack Joyride and other side-scrolling infinite runners it gives a familiar and comfortable feel for new players.
This game is addictive beyond belief and due to its simple nature of gameplay it looks to be a winner. But will it last? Will this game be just a flash in the pan for the publisher and be gone by next month. Only time will tell, but for now it’s easy and frustrating gameplay has at least for a while made it a winner for many mobile gamers, keeping them playing starting and selecting this title above the greats in the app gaming world.
But what do you think?