Saturday, 8 February 2014

Flappy Bird's Discontinuation is a Bad Thing

Flappy Bird developer Dong Nyugen has announced on Twitter that he is taking down his game from the app store within the next 24 hours. For those of you who somehow don't know, Flappy Bird is a simple flight game where you tap the bird to levitate and avoid falling into pipes. That's it. It has attracted popularity due to its intense difficulty, and it has become a game that people love to hate. I won't get into the 'Casual iPhone gamers have been desensitised to the undemanding difficulty of Angry Birds and Fruit Ninja that when they face a game with actual challenge they start freaking out' argument, but instead, I will talk about how the removal of Flappy Bird is a bad thing, even if you or I didn't like the game (which I didn't).

Flappy Bird is an indie game. It was made on a small budget by one guy in Vietnam, so it's not exactly a Triple-A big-hitter in that regard. What I know for a fact is that there are so many more indie games deserved of popularity than Flappy Bird, and I'm pretty sure Dong Nyugen knows this too. See, Treyarch and Infinity Ward can deal with hate because there are hundreds of those guys working on a game, so singling out one person for the horribleness of COD: Ghosts is a challenging task. With Flappy Bird, all the hatred and the anger than spurted from the game was directed straight at one person. Think about that: immense popularity of a game, followed by widespread rage and screaming videos, 1-star reviews, and even death threats. Why did Flappy Bird get so popular? I have absolutely no idea; there are loads of games out there that are designed solely to excite the rage out of their player, so why has Flappy Bird launched to the top?

The discontinuation of Flappy Bird proves that the success of indie games depend on the mental well-being of their auteur. Indie games are mostly made by a small group of people or just one guy, whereas big-budget releases are made by hundreds of people. Those hundreds of people can pass the blame on to the next guy if someone asks why this part of the game is shoddy or broken, whereas if an Indie Game is bad, that goes straight to one person, and they can't dodge it how ever hard they try. It happened with Phil Fish; he made a Futurama reference and everyone thought he was being serious. He said that most modern Japanese games suck (which they do, I mean take a look at Skyward Sword and the recent Final Fantasy games), and the video game press were accusing him a racist and a douchebag. On top of that, people didn't like his game, so their criticism was directed at him directly in a volatile manner, along with all the other accusations of racism and douchebaggery thrown his way. You know what he did? He quit. He quit the games industry. He cancelled Fez II and isn't going to make another game.

What were the games journalists and raging internet keyboard warriors expecting Phil Fish to do when they were calling him a racist and a douchebag? Similarly, what are the screaming YouTubers and raging internet keyboard warriors expecting when they were barraging Flappy Bird with unadulterated hate? I have an answer: views. PewDiePie will get more views on his recent incessant screaming videos by incessantly screaming about the mild challenge of Flappy Bird. News websites will get more hits if they document the false racism of Phil Fish. What happens when another indie game developer decides to have a personality or to make an intentionally hard game? Will they be forced to quit too? Fortunately, Dong Nyugen will still be making games, but he will forever be branded 'The Flappy Bird guy' whenever he appears on an interview or makes a new game.

So yeah. If he actually is taking Flappy Bird down, this is a sad day for indie game developers.