The Late Great Flappy Bird

5 App Design Lessons you can learn from Flappy Bird

Admit it. Over the last few weeks you have been hooked on a simple and frustratingly annoying game called Flappy Bird. Don’t worry, there are several million other people who have installed Flappy Bird and also share in your pain. Today, however, marks the end of an era (all be it a short era measured in weeks) as the developed for Flappy Bird pulled the game from all the app stores for one simple reason: Flappy Birds is too popular.

So what made Flappy Birds so popular, and how can you emulate that success in your games? Here are 5 solid reasons:

  1. The game is free – Ad revenue sponsors the success of the game (Flappy Birds generates around $50,000 in revenue per day). Free games will always been downloaded more than paid games. Get your game out to the widest audience as soon as possible.
  2. The UX is to tap the screen. That’s one action and no complex interactions. Keep the focus of your apps down to as few screen taps as possible.
  3. Social Media Score Sharing – did you score more than 4 (which would be beat my personal best) then share with all your friends on Facebook and Twitter. The result is that your friends will want to beat your score. Always use Social Media to share content that your app customer is generating.
  4. The game has one aim to bounce between green pipes – keep the task of your app down to as few actions as possible. If you need more interactions, consider creating a second app.
  5. The nostalgia of the game makes it attractive to all generations. Why not apply the same technique for your apps.

The success of Flappy Birds is repeatably. The game designer for Flappy Birds has replaced the #1 game in the app store with Ironpants (yes, it is equally as frustrating as Flappy Birds) and has two more games at #4 and #15. There are also two Flappy Bird copy-cat games (Flappy Bee and Flappy Plane) in the top 20. The focus is free, simple, social, one task and visually engaging. How does Flappy Birds design lessons apply to your apps?

The Late Great Flappy Bird
The Late Great Flappy Bird

4 thoughts on “5 App Design Lessons you can learn from Flappy Bird”

  1. I wonder about #3 though where you talked about Social Media Sharing. As good as it sounds, it’s one that may not appeal to a younger audience say between 4 and 12. That’s one dilemma I know I’m having to grapple with for my app feature.

      1. Well, I’ve been reading through app review sites for children’s apps and I know Social sharing is a tricky feature. In-app is also frowned at but it’s still a model to go with. In keeping with my practical approach, the latter hasn’t worked against me so I’ll give the former a go regardless.

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