“Flappy Bird” has come and gone. As Paul Tassi detailed yesterday, the creator of the maddeningly addictive and wildly popular game removed it from both iOS and Android after a wave of internet hate. This despite the reported $50,000 a day in ad revenue it was pulling in. And while it’s gone from the top charts as well, a closer look reveals that it’s not gone in spirit. “Ironpants,” a fairly obvious clone, now sits at #1 on the free chart.
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“Flappy Bird” was a simple game — fly your little hero through a series of walls (pipes, etc.), and quickly lose your mind on your way to a higher score. It was so simple that clones started exploding almost overnight — clones are flooding the app store, from “Flappy Bee” to “Flappy Plane” to “Flappy Penguin.” I imagine that most of those, “Ironpants” especially, are more than a little bit pleased about “Flappy Bird’s” sudden disappearance.
“Flappy Bird,” despite the ill will it produced while it was around, will likely be remembered as the first major hit in whatever we will call this genre: “wall flyer,” maybe (the first of this genre may have been “Line Birds” way back in 2011). Other developers will clone it, and then expand it, and before long someone like Halfbrick will release the definitive “wall flyer,” and that will be that. The meteoric rise, outpouring of hatred, and troubled departure will become a piece of lore in the history of mobile games.
I feel bad for creator Dong Nguyen, if only a little bit. He did, after all, make his own game, at least moreso than the creators of “Ironpants.” It struck a nerve and proved popular. He took art from Nintendo, which was not the proper thing to do, but not nearly so bad as making a full-on clone. I can only imagine the wave of hate that it spawned, and the enormous pressure that led him to this decision. Luckily, he has a boatload of cash. The internet doesn’t remember this sort of thing for very long, so he’ll be alright.