The Ballad Of Flappy Ford

Readers are likely familiar with Flappy Bird, the hugely popular game where you navigate a bird through pipes without hitting them. At the height of it’s popularity, the developer decided to pull the game, which was widely covered by tech and gaming publications as well as the mainstream media.

Seeing an opportunity to have some fun, our team decided to whip up a clone of the popular game starring none other than the high profile Mayor of Toronto, Rob Ford. The result would be a wonderful amalgam of politics, tech and gaming: Flappy Ford. Here’s what happened when we published it exactly two weeks ago. First, a quick summary of the topline stats:

  • Over 120,000 unique players
  • Over 800,000 games played

Not bad for such a short time. When we first began to promote the game (via the Twitter account we had created), we thought that it would be something the online political class would latch on to. Interestingly, that was not the case. It received only modest interest from those who follow the #TOpoli and #Cdnpoli hashtags and in the first few hours, it didn’t garner much attention. We concluded this was likely due to the fact that few in that community likely played Flappy Bird, so the appeal was limited.

We then decided to switch our focus to the gaming community, who we felt would appreciate the game itself and the subject matter. We then started promoting the game through gamer hashtags for a short while until it was picked up by CG Magazine. In less than an hour, we had 6,000 players who had tried the game.

And people loved it:

As people played the game and tweeted about it, it received much more attention. In the next 24-36 hours, Flappy Ford was featured on Canoe, BiteTV, Reddit, CBC, CTV, and National Newswatch. Last night, the game was featured on This Hour Has 22 Minutes.

So, we are quite happy with the results of our little game. Interestingly, Flappy Ford received almost no coverage in the United States, save for a few mentions. In fact, over 87 percent of the traffic came from Canada only.

Why did the game gather limited traction in the U.S.? Hard to say. The Sochi Olympics were in full swing. From a gaming perspective, Flappy Ford was just another clone. We also had Titanfall Beta to contend with. Maybe Americans have moved on from caring about Rob Ford, at least until he’s in the news there again.

In the end, though, the project was a huge success. With almost no promotion it grew to 100,000 players in less than two weeks. It received a crop of media attention and even got on TV. Not bad for something we decided to do for fun – and it was fun!

A shout out to the awesome team members who worked on the project and for everyone who played.

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