Flappy Bird — the highly frustrating and addictive mobile game that has taken smartphone users by storm the last few weeks — is certainly soaring.
The game, which requires users only to tap the button to keep the bird character in the air as it seeks to avoid green pipes, is making about $50,000 every day, according to the Los Angeles Times. Users spend multiple hours playing the simple-sounding but difficult game, which allows the ads shown intermittently throughout the game to rake in the cash.
"The reason Flappy Bird is so popular is that it happens to be something different from mobile games today, and is a really good game to compete against each other," said Vietnamese game developer Dong Nguyen, according to the Verge. "People in the same classroom can play and compete easily because (Flappy Bird) is simple to learn, but you need skill to get a high score."
The game, Nguyen said, is highly inspired by Super Mario Bros. The pipes seen in the game are “icons” from the Mario games, and the bird character from Flappy Bird was “Cheep Cheep, the fish Mario encounters while he swims underwater,” the LA Times said.
Flappy Bird has been popular among reviewers. James Mapley at DroidGamers wrote that the game is full of mindless fun and works well for users just looking to fill time.
“I can’t with any definition say if Flappy Bird is good. It’s fun. It’s definitely not for everybody, and it’s entirely possible I’m overthinking the entire thing. The game is beautiful in that everyone can play it. There aren’t any foreboding on-screen touch controls. You can play it single-handed. It’s simpler than Angry Birds, yet it requires greater focus. It’s the ‘easy to learn, difficult to master’ idiom personified in a single game."
And while Lou Hattersley at Macworld thought Flappy Bird is a fun game — and certainly better than some other mobile games that ask users to pay for more levels, points or purchases — it's more of a briefly popular meme than a lasting phenomenon.
But is this game good for humanity? Writer Nick Statt at CNet said Flappy Bird “was perhaps the worst smartphone game ever created” because of its way of entrancing users into an endless cycle of play.
“In other words, it's a beautifully manipulative game that sells advertising against your base-level tendencies to keep trying at something that seems within grasp, but rather is designed to mask its clear and utter propensity to grind you into failure,” Statt said.
He also noted gamers have no goal with Flappy Bird, which keeps them playing for no reason other than to fill gaps of time or try to meet minimum accomplishments.
“There is no puzzle to solve, no mental trick to master,” Statt wrote. “Flappy Bird is infinitely random, and no amount of mental and thumb conditioning save a scary and social-life-threatening amount of practice could push your skills beyond the level at which they pretty much start at off the bat.”
Paul Tassi, a writer for Forbes, wondered what Flappy Bird says about society. He said the game is as minimal as it gets, which shows a lot about where American culture is at the moment.
“It’s worrisome that we live in a world that would rocket an almost entirely mindless game like this to insane levels of popularity,” Tassi wrote. “Forget video games, what does that say about society as a whole? Have we reached a level of boredom bordering on dangerous if we’re spending our time en masse on something so pointless?”