What is Flappy Bird? The new app taking on Candy Crush

It has basic graphics and is 'life ruiningly addictive' but Flappy Bird has shot to the top of the charts

LAST UPDATED AT 13:10 ON Fri 31 Jan 2014

GAME lovers are in a flap about a frustrating new smartphone app that is topping the free download charts. Users describe the new game – Flappy Bird – as "insanely irritating", "highly addictive" and a viable contender to beat Candy Crush as the most popular mobile game of 2014. It was first made available in May last year but has recently picked up traction, with thousands of people taking to Twitter and the app's review section to complain that it has taken over their lives. 

How do you play Flappy Bird?

The game has a basic premise: make the bird flap its wings by tapping the screen and navigate it through a series of gaps in pipes. Each time the bird flies through a pipe, the user scores a point. While it might sound easy, getting through even two or three pipes without the bird falling to the ground has proven too difficult for many infuriated users.

Why is it so popular?

Flappy Bird looks like an old arcade game, with simple graphics, and pipes reminiscent of Super Mario Bros. Some say this nostalgic element is part of the allure, but others think it is the range of emotions it inspires – from excitement and endearment to panic and rage. "Flappy Bird makes you work hard to score even two points," says Tero Kuittinen in Forbes. "It took me three hours to score ten points – and I felt a rush of elation when I saw the badly rendered bronze medallion finally pop up on the screen as a reward." Whatever the reason, it is "life ruiningly addictive", according to one user on the iOS App Store review section. "I lie in bed, I can hear Flappy Bird taunting me to try and beat my score again," they wrote. "When I close my eyes I see Flappy Bird. I haven't eaten. I see Flappy Bird in the food on my plate. I hear him in the voices of those I love."

How can you win Flappy Bird?

A steady rhythm is apparently key to controlling the bird and it helps to take off any case or cover on your phone, making your screen more sensitive to the taps. The game's creator, Dong Nguyen, from Gears Studio, based in Hanoi, Vietnam, has been advising players to take breaks to avoid playing the game for long periods. He also claims the game is easier on Android than on iOS.

Will it be more popular than Candy Crush?

Candy Crush is still the top grossing game on iOS and Android, making an estimated $875,382 a day, so it looks as if Flappy Bird still has a long way to go. The latest figures from Think Gaming show that Flappy Bird has 144,660 daily new users, while Candy Crush is down to 34,715 and Angry Birds 24,792. However, its daily revenue is yet to be released. · 

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