Flappy Bird launched in May 2013 and was downloaded over 50 million times by January 2014. Are you looking to create a simple, enticing game that could bring in more than $18 million per year? In this article, we’ll be discussing what made Flappy Bird so popular, and how to create your very own game like Flappy Bird.
Keep reading to see how you could create your very own Flappy Bird clone.
What You’ll Learn In This Post
- Popular features of a Flappy Bird-like game
- The steps involved in creating an arcade game
- Effective methods of marketing your game
What Is Flappy Bird?
Flappy Bird is a free arcade mobile game that was developed for iOS in May 2013. Score is built by guiding a bird through tight gaps in pipes, tapping the screen to make the bird fly and stop it from falling or hitting obstacles. The game has been replicated many times over with several different development frameworks like Unity and AndEngine, showing its simplicity and replicability.
After a small update in November, it saw a massive uptick in users, reviews, and tweets. At its peak Flappy Bird was generating more than $50k a day in advertising, becoming the no.1 free game in 53 countries. Creator Dong Nguyen pulled Flappy Bird from IOS and Android in February 2014, due to the addictive nature of the game and subsequent threats Dong received.
What Made Flappy Bird Popular?
Flappy Bird’s popularity could be for a few reasons, but the simple to grasp controls allowed for player’s of any skill level to play. Sadly, players frustrated with the addictive and difficult nature of the game eventually led to it’s demise. That’s not to say you can’t take a few key features from Flappy Bird’s game design, to replicate it’s success.
No In-App Purchases
A common form of monetization is to have users pay to remove intrusive in-game ads. Flappy Bird didn’t offer this, instead opting to run ads without impeding the player’s ability to succeed or the gaming experience. If you want to create your own instantly replayable Flappy Bird clone, you should avoid using any paywalls or unskippable ads.
You may see other popular games use a star system–you’ve completed the level and got the maximum score. Flappy Bird doesn’t grant you that luxury. As a score-based game, you’re constantly working to beat your own score. Any high score will never be enough due to the game’s addictive and gratifying nature. Enticing users to compete with themselves is key to inspiring repeat players. .
Flappy Bird’s gameplay was simple: tap the screen to temporarily offset gravity with a small hop. However, timing these jumps correctly to avoid hitting obstacles made the game infuriating. People loved to hate it, and their failings at the simplistic controls only furthered the hilarity and enjoyment most players felt.
Popular Features of Arcade-Style Games
Flappy Bird is an arcade game, with a score based system and one integral skill, it’s reminiscent of games like Donkey Kong, Pong, and Pac-Man. Here are some of the most popular features used in arcade games over the years.
Flappy Bird’s controls were even simpler than your standard SNES game; it used one button. Whereas some games require you to build a score efficiently, Flappy Bird would only let you score one point at a time. Because the game gives you one button and controls your pace, the player is only using one skill, timing.
The threat of that game over screen has been looming over players for years and shattering high scores for even longer. Nothing gets a player’s adrenaline rushing like having one life left. Creating a sense of danger within your game will keep your game challenging and, more importantly, fun.
Points and Rewards
Points and rewards are what we live for; chances are we’ll get that promotion if we work overtime it’s no different in games. Whilst chasing your own, or the global, high score can be enjoyable, giving players cosmetics such as character skins to chase can also motivate them to keep coming back for more.
Successful Games like Flappy Bird
While Flappy Bird’s exit from the app store left many wanting, there’s been no shortage of similar games to fill its place. Some mobile games combine frustrating and enjoyable extremely well, here are just a few examples.
1. Geometry Dash
Geometry Dash is a level-based platformer, wherein you have to time your jumps effectively to avoid hazards and the game over screen. Geometry Dash implements music into its game with different tracks for different levels–this creates a desire for the player to complete each level and discover every track
2. Crossy Road
Crossy Road is a game where you play as an array of animals -surprisingly- trying to cross a road. As the camera moves to eliminate you, you’ll be impeded by a number of cars and rivers to slow you down. Along with the aim of beating your own and others’ high score, you could also use coins collected to purchase new animals and characters to play as.
3. Subway Surfers
Subway Surfers is what’s known as an endless runner, wherein players must avoid obstacles and hazards, using directional swiping. The main objective is to build your score and to run as long as possible. However, with the addition of multiple currencies and unlockable rewards, the player is given an extra incentive to continue playing.
7 Steps to Making an App Like Flappy Bird
Making a mobile game is a challenging process, but having a clear plan will help you achieve your developmental goals. Here are just a few crucial steps in any successful mobile game development.
1. Choose Game Type
If you’re aiming to build a game like Flappy Bird, you’ll be building an arcade game, something with endless replayability, but how the game plays is entirely down to you. You could create a classic arcade brawler or even a simple space invaders-like game.
Getting your game type nailed down will help you understand what assets, controls, and rules you’ll need to implement to realize your very own arcade game. You’ll also be able to begin putting a clear image together of how the game looks, feels, plays.
2. Determine Game Rules
The player needs to build a score and eventually hit that game over screen, but you have to decide how they get there. You can consider making the scoring system simple like Flappy Bird, or you can add methods to multiply and lose score via various actions.
Will the player build a combo by scoring in quick succession or have to work harder to hit-high value targets? Does the player have a health bar or will the camera slowly seek to end the game? While you can tweak the difficulty later down the line, creating a challenging yet enjoyable gameplay loop will be key to your game’s replayability.
3. Determine Control Scheme
Arcade games work well on mobiles because of their simplistic control schemes that keeps the player’s screen free from a cluttered user interface (UI).. As a result, you should keep the control scheme simple, but make sure it serves the game rules you’ve designed.
If you’re looking to reach a wider audience, having simpler and more accessible controls will help players grasp your game much faster. As discussed earlier, part of Flappy Bird’s appeal was simplicity. If you’re looking to replicate Flappy Bird’s success, you might want to try and ensure the player has one or two skills to focus on and improve to achieve a higher score.
4. Design and Mockup Graphics
Now you’ve determined the premise and challenges within your game, you can begin to build the look. The possibilities are endless when it comes to the art style. Will you make a simplistic pixel landscape or CEL-shaded characters? If you haven’t already decided, this is the time to decide if your game will be 2D, 3D, or even 2.5D.
Depending on the dimensions of your game, some programs may be more effective for building your assets. For 2D assets, you could use, but are not limited to, Adobe Photoshop or the open-source alternative GIMP. For 3D or 2.5D assets, you might use Maya or Blender. However, most game engines will have their own assets store with user generated content, making the design stage simpler, if a little unoriginal. .
5. Develop Game
Now you have all the ingredients to make an app like Flappy Bird, you can move to the all-important development phase. There are a number of game engines perfect for creating an arcade-style mobile game, such as GameMaker Studio, AppGameKit, and Unity. However, if you don’t have the required knowledge to pull all your assets and ideas together, read this Idea Maker guide to outsourcing your app development.
Searching through your chosen app developer’s portfolio is always worthwhile, but how do you know what to look for? Finding a developer with a proven track record, preferably with apps similar to your own, will help you find a quality match. If a developer has a number of apps/projects that are still functioning today, this is a clear sign of quality development and post release support options.
Related Page: How To Find the Perfect App Developer for Your Business
6. Beta Testing
Beta testing is where you offer your unfinished product to people for testing. Not only will you be able to see what glitches and bugs are troubling your game, but you will also get feedback on your general design and features within the game.
Creating a game without bugs is almost impossible, but with a beta test, you can at least see what common issues people are running into. Whether you tackle these bugs yourself or opt for the service from your development team, eliminating as many errors as you can will make your game appear well polished. Releasing a game full of bugs will likely bring negative reviews, stifling your chances of success.
7. Deliver and Refine Your Game
Now that you’ve designed, created, and reviewed your app, you’re ready to release it to the public. Make no mistake, if you want your app to flourish, this is not the end of the road. You’ll now need to monitor your game closely.
The first few weeks may feel like a second beta test, a whole new audience will be playing your game and might run into some bugs of their own. Furthermore, you’ll be getting reviews from a growing player-base, maybe some levels are laughably easy and others are terribly difficult. You’ll want to monitor feedback and bug reports, and make whatever changes are necessary to create that perfect Flappy Bird-like game.
Marketing Your Mobile Game
So your game is on the market and now you need players. Here are a few tips on how best to market your game and reach a larger audience.
As social media usage has grown in recent years, so too has the effectiveness of social media marketing. As a cost-free alternative, organic social media is where you create an account for your business or product and create posts to entice users. However, if you’ve got the capital, you can always pay to boost your posts by running Pay-Per-Click (PPC) ads.
Related Page: How to Increase Web Traffic Using Social Media
App Store Optimization
Much like Search Engine Optimization (SEO), App Store Optimization (ASO) is the act of composing your app’s store page to show up more frequently in searches. You could add specific tags to your page or litter keywords in your title and description to boost the chances of being seen by users. Factors like downloads and reviews may be out of your control, but crafting an optimized store page will help you rise through the search results.
Related Page: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Services
App Store Ads
If you’re looking to advertise directly on the store then you have a few options. You can choose to run ads via Pay-Per-Click (PPC), this will mean every time a user clicks on your app’s ad you will be charged a fee. Alternatively, you can run Pay-Per-Impression (PPI) ads whereby you’ll be charged every time a user’s search results contain your ad. There are benefits to each that may vary depending on the app store of your choice.
Monetizing Your Mobile Game
If you’re not charging users for your game you might consider monetizing your app in other ways.
While Flappy Bird didn’t implement in-app purchases, the equally successful Subway Surfers has. You could add unlockable rewards, such as player costumes, or even different game modes to entice users to pay. Putting the onus on the player to choose if they want to spend money is an effective way of monetizing your app without excluding audiences.
You can also allow advertisements to be played alongside your game. You could offer beneficial gameplay features for watching an ad, leave a dedicated section of the screen for adverts, or let players make a one-off payment that permanently disables ads. If you have a high player base, but they aren’t engaging with the in-app purchases, adding adverts might support you as your app grows.
Idea Maker’s Experience In Mobile Game Development
If you’re interested in creating your own mobile game, but don’t have the time, experience, or resources, Idea Maker can help. With a vast knowledge of mobile applications and games, we’ve supported the creation of a number of mobile games, including UniWar and Word Crazy.
To learn more about what services we offer, schedule a free consultation with us today.