If 2013 was the year of Candy Crush, 2014 is shaping up to be the year of… Flappy Bird? The game has been crushing the competition in the App Store and Google Play, having been downloaded a reported 2 million to 3 million times per day over the weekend. It currently sits in the number one spot in both.
Only this (free) bird game doesn't require you to mentally sketch out parabolas and fling feathered projectiles at green pigs. And--fair warning--it might even make you want to smash your phone against a wall. Here's what you should know about it:
What is it?
As its name suggests, you play as a bird. That flaps. Repeatedly tapping the screen makes you float, and you have to guide your little fella through green, Nintendo-like pipes, which exist solely to impede your progress. Passing through these pipes earns you a point. The title was reportedly programmed in two days, which is believable. It seems very simple, and it is. But it is also very, very hard.
During your first day, any score above a 5 is commendable. The game has spawned its own micro-network inside of Twitter, with players posting screenshots of high scores--and, more frequently, complete and annihilating heartbreak.
How did it get so popular?
Its creator, a 29-year-old indie developer from Hanoi, Vietnam, named Nguyen Ha Dong, attributes its success to dumb luck. "Before 'Flappy Bird,' none of my games have 1/100th of that popularity," he told TechCrunch. Outsiders, however, are a bit more suspicious of its success, especially since three of Dong's titles are currently in the App Store's top 10. Pocket Gamer reports that some suspect bots may have been used to give Flappy Birds an artificial boost before people started downloading it organically.
In any case, it appears a lot of people are playing Flappy Bird, which means a lot of people are probably tearing their hair out.