Flappy Bird is the new champion!
It took the Top Free chart by storm and everyone is dying to know how developer Dong Nguyen did it.
To those of you who are not familiar with it yet, the game is insanely simple. It works a lot like the early helicopter games or the more recent jetpack joyride where gravity pulls you down and you have to tap to stay up. The challenge is to avoid the pipes and keep moving forward.
Beyond the very simple gameplay, you can easily see that that artwork is very retro and almost reminds of 8-bit limited graphics. When you start playing the user experience is very frustrating. I played for 15 minutes only to get a best score of – 2. Others have left the game without even getting past the first set of pipes.
The game’s success despite it’s simplicity seems to defy what big publishers want us to believe – that games can only succeed these days with the support of huge marketing budgets. In an interview with him Dong testifies that he was the only person working on this game and had no marketing campaigns boosting its success.
There was another theory I read that there must be something fishy going on – “there must be some botting involved”. Well, the social activity around the game (search twitter and vine for “flappy bird”) is certainly authentic. It received 350,000 reviews which is about 100 times more than any other app in the Top 50. There is only one conclusion here – this is a true victory by a small indie developer over gaming giants.
Dong’s success will soon propel many theories about why it succeeded. Some will say that games about birds tend to succeed more. Others will claim that retro 8-bit graphics is the way to go. New gaming companies will use these theories to raise money and journalists will sell papers. Well, the truth is that nobody really knows why some games go viral and some do not. You just have to keep dreaming, hope your game will be next and mostly enjoy the process.
For us at SOOMLA, this game serves as a huge inspiration. SOOMLA is about helping small game developers achieve more together. We live in an era of digital distribution and free leverage. An era where any developer can make a game that will climb the charts. An era when big companies don’t hold the keys to the playground any more.
If you are an indie developer we hope this inspires you as well. Persevere, believe in yourself and don’t let big gaming giants tell you that you can only succeed by partnering with them.