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Flappy Bird returns -- yet only on Amazon Fire TV

Flappy Birds Family, a multiplayer iteration of the cult mobile hit, makes its way to Amazon's streaming set-top box.

Nick Statt Former Staff Reporter / News
Nick Statt was a staff reporter for CNET News covering Microsoft, gaming, and technology you sometimes wear. He previously wrote for ReadWrite, was a news associate at the social-news app Flipboard, and his work has appeared in Popular Science and Newsweek. When not complaining about Bay Area bagel quality, he can be found spending a questionable amount of time contemplating his relationship with video games.
Nick Statt
2 min read

Dotgears Studios

Flappy Bird is back from the dead, and it's multiplied.

Reinvented as a two-player game called Flappy Birds Family, the mobile title was released Friday on Amazon's Fire TV platform. It features split screen action, new characters, and fresh obstacles in the form of pixelated octopus-like blobs fans might recognize as the Twitter icon of Vietnam-based creator Dong Nguyen. "More fun and still very hard," reads the end of the game's concise description.

Why the Amazon Fire TV?

It's likely that Nguyen wanted to enable a two-player feature that relied on a game controller -- Amazon designed their very own controller for its micro-console and set-top box hybrid. Also, it's far easier to bypass the complexities of enabling a cloud-based multiplayer component with a split-screen design, and Amazon's device happens to be the only mobile game platform for which local multiplayer seems especially well suited right now.

Nguyen, the one-man team behind Dotgears Studios, announced back in May that he intended to resurrect his game with multiplayer functionality this summer. That was after he pulled it from the Google Play and Apple iOS app stores back in February, a decision he made after becoming an overnight Internet sensation.

Dotgears Studios

The attention -- a torrent of both positive and negative outpouring on Twitter and in online media articles attempting to decipher the game's popularity -- ruined Nguyen's self-described simple life. Despite having sky-rocketed to the top of the app store charts, and earning Nguyen $50,000 a day in ad revenue, Flappy Bird was no more.

In its place is now an unforgettable set of game mechanics punctuated by an elegant simplicity blended with maddening difficulty and wrapped up in Super Mario-inspired aesthetics. Copycat titles were popping up every 24 minutes at the height of the Flappy Bird craze, but the cloning has since fallen off, though not completely. Take for instance the recent mobile hit Timberman, which shot to the top of the app charts last month largely on the merits of Flappy Bird's design.

Nguyen's desire to retreat from the limelight earlier this year wasn't just stress-induced. He despised the way the game was becoming more a hobbling addictive fixation than a creative work that was intended to be fun and mindless. In a far-reaching interview with Rolling Stone earlier this year, Nguygen revealed that he received countless messages blaming his game for poor grades and the deterioration of parent-children relationships. The cause, he said, was smartphone-toting children everywhere giving in to obsession.

That's why Nguyen was kind enough to leave a well-intended message of encouragement alongside Flappy Birds Family. "Enjoy playing the game at home (not breaking your TV) with your family and friends," the description advises.