Is it original? Not at all. Incredibly derivative? Yes. Does it borrow art assets from other games in a borderline offensive manner? Sure does. Did it deserve all of the backlash it received from the gaming community over the past two weeks? Kind of. But its gone too far.
For those unfamiliar with Flappy Bird, it is a free mobile game available on IOS and Android that plays similarly to the "helicopter game" most of us have played on the web or on our phones in one way or another, with modified physics and art assets pulled almost directly from Super Mario. It is incredibly difficult, and just as addictive as its source material. I haven't downloaded the app myself, but have played it on others phones before. And I never will download it, since by the time this post is up the game will likely already be unavailable on the app stores. The backlash earned by the game's derivative nature drove the one man developer to make the game unavailable, just to get everyone to stop talking and leave him alone. It's a shame that a completely free game, with no micro transactions or any money transfers to speak of has received such treatment. Sure, there were in-game advertisements, which if I'm correct, were inoffensive, rather minimal, and limited to menus. And these ads did generate revenue for the developer, but advertising is a win-win situation for everyone. No loss to the viewer, sales made for the advertiser, and income for the individual(s) advertising.
Back to topic, let's read through those initial questions again. ... Good. Now, had I not used the name "Flappy Bird", I could have easily been describing a big budget, AAA console title. Why is it that we, the gaming community, don't bat an eye when another Call of Duty knock off, or generic brown and gray shooting gallery gets released with a 60 dollar price tag, but when a free, largely inoffensive mobile game with the same derivative nature gets popular everyone riots? Now Flappy Bird did take things a step further than the generic console mob, but it was made by one man who simply had a love for video games and wanted to share it with everyone. The reactions surrounding the game's rise in popularity are shameful. It's disappointing to see an individual so discouraged from pursuing his passion, that he makes his already readily available project no longer so.
And Flappy Bird isn't the first case of overwhelming negativity driving a developer to an extreme decision. In July of 2013, Fez developer Phil Fish quit game development for good, following years of personal attacks and backlash from the industry. As a result, Fez 2 and all future projects of Polytron, have been canceled. And worse still, the industry has lost a creative and talented developer. And these are just two of the many examples of negative feedback being taken to an extreme. The community needs to change. The negative culture we have created has gone too far. Constructive criticism is one thing, active discouragement is another. Flappy Bird may not have been the most respectable title ever released, but it certainly didn't deserve the fate it was given. Gamers: before you attack a game with no intention of providing constructive criticism, remember the likes of Fez and Flappy Bird.