Nguyen made headlines this February when he abruptly announced he was deleting the number one mobile game in the world, which according to him, was bringing in $50,000 a day to his one-man studio, .GEARS. Some viewed the move as a massive publicity stunt, as players raced to download the game before it was taken down. To others, it just seemed like Nguyen was an ordinary guy who didn’t quite know what to do with so much attention thrust upon him, and would rather have peace and quiet than that revenue stream.
But Nguyen wasn’t exactly a zen monk, giving up his fame and fortune completely. He merely deleted that particular game which was causing him too many headaches, and proving “too addictive” to players. Ngyuen left other popular games of his online, including Shuriken Block, which remained high on the app charts for a time. And naturally, the money has kept coming in from already installed copies of Flappy Bird.
Now, Nguyen has revealed that Flappy Bird will return to the app market this August, complete with multiplayer functionality and changes that will make it “less addictive,” a phrase you certainly don’t hear in mobile gaming often. Or ever.
The question is, are Flappy Bird’s 15 minutes of fame up? For weeks after the game was taken down, the app store charts were filled with Flappy Bird knock-offs, taking up most of the top spots, and given the simplicity of the game’s concept and code, at the peak of the insanity, over 60 Flappy Bird clones were hitting the app store a day .
But now? There are barely a few in the top 100 at all, as the forever restless mobile market has had enough of the “fly a thing through other things” concept for the time being, it seems.
Still, Flappy Bird managed to become a phenomenon without equal, so it’s entirely possible its return will land it back on the top of the charts again. If there’s one thing I’ve learned throughout this whole saga, it’s that you cannot predict what the short attention spans of mobile gamers will appoint as their next golden god. But usually, their kings have very short reigns. Outside of a few permanent fixtures like Clash of Clans or Angry Birds, top grossing games have their time in the sun, then drop out of favor. This can result in disastrous business decisions, like when Zynga bought Draw Something developer OMGPOP practically the day their game peaked, and it lost millions of users in the weeks and months that followed.
But the good news for Nguyen? There’s no downside to bringing the game back. The man made an ungodly amount of money for an individual developer the first time around with Flappy Bird, and has found success with his other games too. Whether the return of Flappy Bird results in another #1 chart topper or a complete whiff, he’ll likely make back whatever he invested into the newest tweaks of the game regardless. Adding new content to Flappy Bird can’t possibly have that high of a price tag attached, given the nature of the game.
It’s unclear if the new Flappy Bird will simply be an update for the old copy, or an entirely new download. Personally, I’m pulling for a full sequel spun into a feature film adaptation. If you think I’m joking about that last bit, check back in six months and tell me the movie rights haven’t been sold yet.
Nguyen is either a humble app store lottery winner or the smartest marketer in the history of the scene. Either way, I can’t help but like the guy, and hope the return of his famed fowl goes well.