Is Flappy Bird Coming Back?

Dong Nguyen's marketing strategy is just like his games -- surprisingly effective.

Mar 22, 2014 at 11:26AM

Dong Nguyen returned to Twitter (NYSE: TWTR) this week, responding to comments about his game Flappy Bird. When one user asked if he was planning on bringing Flappy Bird back to the Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) App Store, Nguyen responded, "Yes. But not soon." The comment comes on the heels of a Rolling Stone profile that was published last week in which the game maker hinted he might let his caged bird flap its wings again.

Nguyen is confirming my suspicion that he's a secret marketing genius.

The buzz about Flappy Bird has declined significantly since the end of February. Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) search volume is down about 40% over the last two weeks. But this is to be expected from a game that requires but the shortest of attention spans.

Short game, short fame.

But just as Flappy Bird interest is beginning to fall off, Nguyen reminds us of that annoying pixelated bird and his brand.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Social capital
Any game's success is determined by the number of people that download it or buy it. In mobile games, where marketing budgets are smaller or non-existent, word of mouth is instrumental in garnering downloads.

Candy Crush Saga is a success because your friends are constantly reminding you about it on Facebook (NASDAQ:FB). Flappy Bird was a success because it generated buzz around the Internet. It went viral after YouTube videos and infuriated user reviews generated interest in the little game, and Twitter and Facebook lit up soon after.

King, the creators behind Candy Crush, realized the value of social networking when it designed its Saga games. Its Facebook integration has allowed it to attract over 150 million monthly active users for Candy Crush through the social network's platform. It's successfully used Facebook to promote its other games as well.

Flappy Bird, as well as Nguyen's other games, don't have much integration with Facebook. Nonetheless, Nguyen has leveraged the game's popularity almost perfectly.

Flappy Bird is coming, but check this out first
Despite the popularity of Flappy Bird, nobody knew who Dong Nguyen was until he suddenly pulled the No. 1 app. This act alone meant anything new Nguyen released would surely get some attention.

But Nguyen is smarter than that. Flappy Bird is still a bigger name than his own. Teasing its rerelease will create much more interest than announcing the release of a new game.

Nguyen is indeed planning on releasing a new game soon. This time, unlike his previous games, he's priming the Internet for his upcoming release. He's going to make this game a hit before it's even announced.

Any new game from Nguyen will spark comparisons to Flappy Bird, further building buzz around its pending rerelease. If the game's a hit, Nguyen may be able to draw in a larger audience to his brand before he brings back the bird.

Nguyen took advantage of the buzz he created last month to inform people that he still makes games -- games not called Flappy Bird. Now, he's reminding people about his hit single in order to build anticipation of his upcoming release.

Flappy Bird 2.0
The Internet's short obsession with Flappy Bird could have fizzled into nothingness if Nguyen waited just a bit longer to announce that he plans to rerelease Flappy Bird. Nguyen seemingly has a knack, however, for knowing when he needs to step in to alter the trend. Granted, he does have inside information on how well his games are performing.

Nguyen is harnessing the power of social media as other gaming companies have done, but he has his own way of doing things. Instead of barraging his audience with reminders and announcements, he engages with his audience on a more personal level, responding to select mentions as he sees fit. He rarely announces anything -- really just that one time -- and he lets his fans take control of the conversation, only reviving it or redirecting it when necessary.

Like his games, his marketing strategy is simplistic, yet deceptively difficult to pull off.

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