The number one app for both Android and Apple is an indie game about a flying bird in with Nintendo-era graphics, and it brings in about $50,000 in ad revenue daily.
The concept of Flappy Bird is pretty simple — players tap the screen to keep a little yellow bird in flight, propelling around Mario-inspired green pipe obstacles toward an everlasting finish line to get a high score.
Simple in theory, difficult and addictive in practice. Flappy Bird has been topping the app stores for almost a month and has accumulated 47,000 reviews from its 50-million downloads.
The Verge reports Vietnamese developer Dong Nguyen coded the game in a few nights after work — a stark contrast from professional development studios that spend months creating far more visually and structurally advanced apps they hope will go viral.
“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,” Nguyen said. “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.”
Difficulty is a big part of the appeal, with users taking up to an hour just to earn a meager score of less than 10, making the app’s ability to share impressive scores on Facebook a major selling point.
Nguyen considers Flappy Bird’s simplicity its success, and has no plans to update the app, although a sequel and new titles are reportedly in the works. Two of Nguyen’s other titles, Shuriken Block and Super Ball Juggling, are also in the top ten App Store titles, proving that the Vietnamese developer has an eye for popular mobile gaming.
Gears Studios, Nguyen’s game development company, has already made hundreds of thousands from free-to-play games with ads, and says more are on the way.