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Short-lived App Crazes


Angry Birds made £117 million in 2012. Candy Crush Saga pulls in just under $800,000 a day. At its recent peak, Flappy Bird was generating its designer $50,000 every 24 hours.

But unlike the aforementioned monsters of mobile gaming, Flappy Bird's success was bizarrely short-lived. Here we trace the highs and eventual lows of five-flash-in-the-palm apps, that made it big but fell short of King and Revo's all-conquering success.


Flappy Bird

Developer: Dong Nguyen (pronounced 'Wing')

Why did we stop playing?: Nguyen pulled the plug

Tap to keep your bird flying between a series of Mario-esque pipes. Curse your existence when you peak at nine pipes and wonder how you ever managed to get dressed in the morning. First released on 24 May 2013, Flappy Bird's became something of an overnight success when its total number of reviews flapped through the roof in January 2014.

As it hit the number 1 spot in the App Store, Nguyen reportedly making $50,000 a day, gamers began complaining over updated mechanics while journalists begged for interviews. Nguyen announced that his time-killing app was getting out of hand, and on 9 February, the developer removed his addictive wonder app.


Draw Something

Developer: OMGPop/Zynga

Why did we stop playing?: You can only draw "Wave" so many times before you go mad

Despite a number of quietly successful apps, OMGPop was supposedly on the edge of closure in early 2012. Their savour? Pictionary clone Draw Something - a slick, addictive social experience that stacked up 50 million dowloads in a matter of weeks.

Reportedly brining in close to $250,000 a day, OMGPop soon drew the attention of mobile gaming giants Zynga. In March 2012, a deal was drawn up that would see Zynga purchase OMGPop for roughly $180 million - but things weren't picture perfect. Between April and May 2012 the game saw its active users fall from 14 to 10 million - an impressive number, but the rate of loss was an indicator of things to come. The revenue began to dry up and in June 2013, Zynga pulled out a giant eraser, laying off many of the former OMGPop employees.


Words with Friends

Developer: Newtoy/Zynga

Why did we stop playing?: The same reason we don't play Scrabble every night

Another success-by-copying story, Words with Friends (essentially Scrabble) was originally launched in 2009 by small-time studio Newtoy. Zynga purchased the group for an undisclosed sum a year later, helping propel the app to become one of the most downloaded and best reviewed iOS apps of 2010 and 2011.

While the game's familiarity was key to its early success, the novelty of appeared to wear off as the years rolled on: between April and May 2012, the game started shedding players by the millions.

Still a popular app compared to the many that miss the mark, Words with Friends isn't the behemoth it once was - we still don't know what "XI" means, and if you stick it on a triple word score we will unfriend you.


Temple Run 2

Developer: Imangi Studios

Why did we stop playing?: Huge opening weeks, interest naturally tailed off

Quite literally a runaway success, Temple Run was the brainchild of husband and wife team Keith Shepherd and Natalia Luckyanova. Over 170 million of us have fled the original temple and its evil monkeys (or whatever the heck they were), Imangi following up with a jazzier sequel - clocking up six million downloads when it launched in January 2013.

Within a week Temple Run 2 had 20 million downloads - rising to 50 million after just 14 days, making it the fastest downloaded app of all time.

A year on, it's fallen outside the top 100 on the iTunes chart (probably because we've all downloaded it, run ourselves to within an inch of our sanity, and given up).


Paper Toss

Developer: Backflip Studios

Why did we stop playing?: Because Flappy Bird came out

The simple process of flicking a scrunched up piece of paper into a bin once helped Backflip Studios rake in $500,000 a month. Paper Toss crossed the 50 million download mark back in 2011, but be honest, how many of you downloaded the World Tour edition or the subsequent sequel? An early star of the App Store, Paper Toss and its brothers haven't reached the top 100 downloaded apps for many moons.



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