The success of Flappy Bird was possibly the strangest gaming event of 2014. The notoriously difficult endless runner gained a mountain of hype and dominated the iOS and Android app charts. Creator Dong Nguyen then removed the game from online stores amid huge backlash over the title and debates over the game’s legitimacy. That wasn’t the end of the matter though – in fact, the removal of Flappy Bird led to even more fanaticism.
After the game was removed from app stores, the Flappy Bird phenomenon could barely be contained. Devices containing Flappy Bird were sold at huge markups on eBay, and the death threats that Nguyen was receiving multiplied. Both Apple and Google took a hard stance on a plague of Flappy Bird clones, and it was estimated that up to a third of new iOS games were knockoffs of Nguyen’s creation. Not a bad for a game that has been done bigger and better many times over.
After that, things died down. Nguyen released the Amazon exclusive spin-off Flappy Bird Family, before moving on to new title Swing Copters. Nevertheless, the aeronautically-challenged adventures of Flappy Bird made a severe mark in the face of video games in 2014. In fact, it left a larger influence than some would care to admit. Google has released the news that Flappy Bird was the most searched for video game of 2014, beating out the likes of Destiny by quite a big margin.
In a new trends post, Google reveals that Flappy Bird beat every other game of 2014 to the top spot in terms of search trends. At its peak, Flappy Bird’s search figures were more than double that of Destiny – the most expensive game ever released. Destiny was third in the rankings, but being beaten by both Flappy Bird and 2048 – two games made in less than three days by one-man development teams – is not exactly a crowning achievement. Then again, Destiny is far more likely to have a longer life span than flash-in-the-pan mobile titles – after all, when was the last time Flappy Bird was mentioned?
Retro video games also had a big year in search. Google users clearly had a nostalgic video game eye, as “90s computer games” spiked by 20 times this year, with Google suggesting that the trend was helped by the success and popularity of the likes of Shovel Knight and FTL. In fact, Flappy Bird could even be added to the nostalgia binge list, given the pixel art style, simplistic gameplay and Super Mario-esque pipe design.
Google revealed more video game search trends in the post. “Games for girls” beat out both “games for kids” and “games for boys,” whilst mobile games proved to be the most searched-for format for video games in 2014. Meanwhile, video games made another jump on physical toys, as search for “toys” has continued a steady decline. That didn’t stop “toys” from beating out “console” by 3 times and “computer games” by other over 24 times, though. So, still a long way to go before video games take over the world, then.
What do you make of the news? Are you surprised at Flappy Bird’s ranking? Or do you think that the game’s sudden explosion of popularity was a freak event? Let us know in the comments.