Love flappy bird or hate flappy bird…you’ve probably played it.

But where did this game coem from? The maddening free app seemed to appear out of nowhere three weeks ago. It’s a great lesson on how simplicity in design, code and even a simple “Share” button may help an app go viral or at least continue to generate buzz

A Focus On Sharing
One of the key things about the game is that, until recently, it made sharing very simple. After every crash (and you crash a lot) you would get the options to play again or share their score

Rise & Fall Of #Flapflap On Twitter
Using the #flapflap hashtag, it’s pretty easy to see just how effective that button was to spread the viral news of the game. Consider this chart from Topsy. The big drop on Feb. 7 corresponds to when the iOS version of the app was updated,it strangely dropped the share button:

This next chart shows how often links to the iOS version of the app were shared on Twitter, with the #flapflap tweets also listed below. You can see that the links far eclipse the hashtag usage, and the viral growth is less pronounced. Perhaps there’s some other reason why the links don’t show the viral spike that the hashtag does.

However, this next chart shows that as of January 1, Flappy Bird was ranked 313 in Apple’s app store. It started climbing a bit, leveled out, then climbed again to break the top 100 on January 8. By January 9, it was in the top 30. January 10 saw it hit the top 10. It took the number one spot on January 17.

That puts Flappy Bird as a viral success before the hashtag sharing started on Twitter. So, in the end, the sharing button just added to the buzz after the success was already happening in the app stores for other reasons.

Or quite simply the pure simplicity and nostalgia of the app was the cause of the frenxy. Importantly, it has to be playable and likeable for people to share the app, in most cases Twitter and social media was used as the channel to vent frustartion

Do you have your own theories on what contributed to Flappy Bird’s success?