This little story is an example of how the right idea can make a lot of money.
If you haven’t heard of it already, there is a small mobile phone game which has been the topic of conversation among social networks and young people in early 2014 called ‘Flappy Birds’.
It’s a small mobile phone game where you are a small bird that flaps its wings in order to move through a series of pipes at varying heights. Basically a ‘platform game’ but in the air. It’s ridiculously simple and the graphics are pretty much the lowest level you could expect for a mobile phone game.
It has one objective, to move forward as far as you can without hitting the pipes. The game itself is rubbish, as far as games go, although it is very addictive and hard to stop playing once you have crashed a few times.
So what is so special about ‘Flappy birds’?
It became very popular, very quickly. It became so popular at such a speed that it quickly spread around Social media networks, everyone was talking about it.
Then, something unusual happened: the creator removed the game so that it was no longer available for download.
This made people very annoyed as there were still vast numbers of people who had heard of the game, wanted to try it for themselves but couldn’t. What happened next was incredible, people started listing their phones on Ebay shortly after the game was removed, and several of them sold, for hundreds of thousands of pounds. How crazy is that?
But it shows you how people can assign value to things at the drop of a hat. Some people would say that it’s unfair to make so much money from a small game, but it really depends on your belief towards money. People want things that are considered rare or important, or socially accepted. When something is all 3, it fetches a high price.
Some of the auctions for these phones were removed because of how quickly they rose in value, and one or two were fake, but there were several that really sold for thousands of pounds. Just for a tiny game which was free a few hours earlier. People wanted it because everyone else seemed to have it and now they couldn’t get it because it was removed.
Why did Flappy birds make so much money?
There are a few reasons why Flappy birds made so much money.
1. It’s a very addictive game
The game is very addictive and once you start playing it, you’ll want to play more and more. There have been several online communities and Facebook pages expressing anger or annoyance at the game and how addictive it is. These only serve to boost the games popularity, and this is how it quickly viral on social networks and the online world.
Memes were made about Flappy Bird, all sorts of websites began writing articles about the game and keeping people updated on the ridiculous Ebay auctions. within about one or two days of the game becoming so popular, there were dozens of similar games released, in an attempt to piggyback off the popularity from the original.
Because it’s addictive, it means two things: people that have it will keep playing it (and therefore keep making the creator advertising income), and those people will tell other people about it, who will then in turn get addicted to playing it!
2. Once people are playing it, the adverts do the work
So all these people have downloaded the game. Now the creator doesn’t need to do much else, he gets paid for the advert impressions or clicks. the small advert at the top of the game was allegedly earning him tens of thousands of pounds a day. People are wondering why he removed it, and there are rumors that he didn’t want the game to become so popular.
3. People want what they can’t have
People will be attracted to things they can’t have. If you tell someone about a game that’s really addictive and fun to play, and then tell them they can’t try it for themselves because it’s been removed, they’ll be thinking about it, and they’ll want to play that game.
It’s curiosity and psychology at play, people want to try this new game that everyone’s talking about, so they end up going to Ebay and paying large sums of money for a phone with the game on. This is another reason why the game made phones fetch so much money on Ebay.
So what’s the lesson to be learned for Flappy Bird?
Create an idea. If you have one idea that’s good enough, or that people will share/talk about enough, you can make a tidy sum of money from that. Adverts, affiliate sales, etc, money is there to be made if you have an idea that could go viral.
It can happen extremely quickly as the creator of the ‘devil bird’ game found out! So if you’re looking to create a game or app that does the same thing, make sure it’s an idea which people will become emotionally involved with, in the case of Flappy Bird, it invoked anger and frustration in people, so that they talked about it with their friends.
Make something that does one of the following in order for it go viral:
Angers people. If it makes people angry, they will talk about it, and share it around.
Makes them very Motivated. If you motivate people they will share that motivation usually with their friends.
Inspires people. A very inspiring message, such as an uplifting video or song can be shared many times.
Makes them sad. You have probably seen on Facebook people sharing those sad stories around usually about an animal that is cute and then suddenly dies etc, people share it because it evokes an emotional reaction in them.
Makes them scared. An example of this would be an article about ‘Killer hornets’ coming to Europe. this article was shared very quickly because people got scared and wanted to share this with people.
Entertains people. Again, anything that makes someone have an emotional reaction will get it shared.
This is how Flappy Birds became so popular, it made people angry and frustrated, but the bottom line is, someone created a game that entertained lots of people, and therefore contributed a lot of value to the world. It may not seem like it, because it’s just a little game, but it entertained a lot of people, and they must have enjoyed the game or they would stop playing it.