While Dong Nguyen’s original intentions behind removing Flappy Bird may have been to make its popularity go away, it seems that the new scarcity he’s created in limiting who does and doesn’t have the game now has only served to make Flappy Bird mania even hotter. Time’s Harry McCracken points out that the top ten search terms on Time.com’s tech section are all Flappy Bird related which “almost never happens with anything." The Guardian’s saw similar things over the weekend. These are two incredibly mainstream news outlets that are being absolutely flooded by Flappy Bird search queries.
Outside of specific sites’ own search engines, the best thermometer for how “hot" anything is on the internet is Google Trends, a service of Google that analyzes Google traffic to determine how many searches have been done on a specific keyword inside of whatever date range you specify. You can use Google Trends for all sorts of silly things like if hummus is more popular than tufu, what areas of the world are the most interested in Harry Potter, where people are most concerned about swine flu and so much more. So, let’s look at how Flappy Bird compares to other historically incredibly popular iOS games:
Represented by the blue line on the right, here’s Flappy Bird’s popularity versus Angry Birds (Free) in red, Temple Run (Free) in yellow, Candy Crush (Free) in green, and finally, Clash of Clans (Free) in purple. Four other iOS games that every iOS gamer knows of, absolutely trounced by the shocking popularity of Flappy Bird.
An easy rebuttal to this is, “Well, yeah, but those are all mobile games. How does Flappy Bird compare against other internet viral sensations?" Well, try this on for size:
The above graph displays Google trend data between Flappy Bird which again is blue, Psy’s smash hit Gangnam Style in red, the confusingly popular video meme Harlem Shake in yellow, pop star Justin Bieber in green, and finally, Lady Gaga in purple. What’s supremely interesting to me about this chart in particular, is that more people are searching for Flappy Bird than there were people looking up Justin Bieber following his arrest, which was so popularized that MSNBC interrupted a Congresswoman to report on it.
I know it’s incredibly easy to roll your eyes at Flappy Bird, as many commenters across the internet have made it very clear how little they care about the game. The fact remains, however, that a simple, silly, free, 2.5MB mobile game hit so big it’s giving Gangnam Style a run for its money. Regardless of how you feel about the game itself, that fact alone is simply incredible.