Flappy Bird: The Truth Behind Addicting Games and Ad Spending
Let’s face it: the majority of us have played Flappy Bird at least once.
It was such a simple yet so frustratingly difficult that it became extremely addicting. In fact, it was so addictive that creator Dong Nguyen yanked the game out of the app store for good, according to a Forbes Interview. Nguyen has also stated the game has caused him undue stress, which we can attribute to the numerous death threats and personal attacks. Nguyen tweeted in response to the game “I can call ‘Flappy Bird’ a success of mine. But it also ruined my simple life. So now I hate it”
The truly spectacular part of this whole ordeal is that even though the app was said to have been generating $50,000 in revenue a day from mobile ads alone, Nguyen decided to take if off the market anyway.
We have learned 3 things from the yanking of the game:
(1) Creating an immensely popular game app can have adverse reactions on the developer’s sanity
(2) Some game developers do have souls and aren’t just in this for the money.
(3) Mobile ad spending was outrageously high on this game.
Flappy Bird has been available in the App Store since May of 2013. It was not overly popular until January of this year when it became the most downloaded app in the store for that month with over 50 million downloads. Advertisers saw the potential in the amount of “eyeballs” in this free app and coordinated with Nguyen to insert and sponsor ads into the game for millions to see. Nguyen admitted that he was making around $50,000 per day in ad revenue alone.
There are two key insights marketers can glean from looking at an ultra-successful game like Flappy Birds:
(1) Mobile ad spending is increasing and should be an area marketers should invest in. In fact, Gartner estimates that mobile ad spending will reach $18 billion in 2014, a 37% increase from 2013’s $13.1 billion mobile ad spend.
(2) Free games are one of the best platforms for mobile ads because they gain users rapidly due to the lack of barriers in downloading the game and the repetitive nature of playing the game. Advertising spend on mobile games will increase to $894 million in 2015, up from $87 in 2010. That’s ten times the amount spent in 2010.
With the death of Flappy Bird, it has become apparent that a popular game such as Flappy Bird can play a strategic role in a marketing plan. Marketers should be aware of the trends in ad spending and recognize that mobile ad spending can no longer be ignored.