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access_time February 11, 2014 at 1:35 PM in Features by Maggie Wiland

The Power Of “No”


There’s this thing called “The Vault” (no, not the Costanza/Seinfeld vault) that was created by Disney years ago when they started bringing out DVDs of their films. It’s a marketing ploy, because they say in the commercials, “Dumbo is now out of the vault! Get it while available!” and it works because if you see it in stores, you think “Oh, I should buy this now while it’s out of the vault or I won’t see it again!”.

And it works. It works like a charm.

The power of “no” in media is fascinating. Whether it’s Daria getting put on DVD after years of begging MTV or people only caring about Conan being fired from The Tonight Show once the whole thing went down in flames, it’s amazing how people react to something once they realize something they like either will never come out or is going away. That brings me to Flappy Bird. I still haven’t played it, and nor do I care to (especially now since it’s gone I really can’t I guess) but what’s amazing isn’t the success. Let’s face it, this happens all the time: Something comes out but doesn’t gain popularity until a while into its lifespan. The internet then gains it notoriety, and soon it’s even on the news. So it wasn’t the craze that surprised me. I’ve seen that happen enough. No, what surprised me was what happened after the creator removed the game.

The day after it left the store, Forbes put up an article about how prices of iPhones and what have you were skyrocketing on Ebay if they had the game downloaded to them, some going for exorbitant prices.

This is what surprised me. As soon as you say “no, you CAN’T have this anymore”, it makes someone really want it. Case in point; about a year ago, the game Too Human was in the same sort of predicament.


On May 31, 2012, Epic Games prevailed in the lawsuit and was awarded $4.5M in damages.[23] Silicon Knights has been forced to recall and destroy all unsold copies of their Unreal Engine games.[24]

And when this happened, it made me immediately think to myself, “I should go buy a copy while I still can.” Now while this is different as it isn’t a purely digital product and so there will ALWAYS be copies floating around, it literally had that effect on me. Too Human has since sat in my closet since I got it and I have almost no intention of playing it (but for 2 bucks why not own it, right?), but the fact that I was told-in a sense-that I may NOT be able to own it again made me go buy it. And no offense to the people who put their hard work, time and effort into these, but because we live in such a judgmental media age I’m going to say this anyway, both theses games SUCK which makes the want for them even more surprising. Now I’m probably one of the only people who said “Holy shit I have to go buy Too Human!” but Flappy Bird is an example of something everyone hates-or pretends to hate-but acts as if they’re being forced to play it, then complain about the fact that they played it.

Flappy Bird, for all intents and purposes, is fucking horrible. It’s one of the dumbest little games I’ve ever had the misfortune to see, BUT, the creator created a frenzy by making the game and then taking the game back, AND, part of me feels as if it’s a stunt and a while from now it’ll be back on the mobile marketplace and gain millions of new downloads because of word of mouth. The press he gained from not only its success but also its disappearance only creates interest in more people, therefore when he finally re-releases it, WHICH WE ALL KNOW WILL HAPPEN (but on the off chance it doesn’t, I respect the hell out of him), he’ll gain a million more players and even more money.

The power of no is a fascinating thing, and you only need to look so far in video games to see how it affects people. Christ, Duke Nukem Forever ALONE defined how much saying “you can’t have this” in some way or another only makes people want it MORE, and then complain when the thing they want isn’t exactly what they wanted. I liked it, but I like having fun, so.

Either way, Flappy Bird is hopefully dead for good, and if it isn’t, then this guy is just a marketing genius and we should all bask in his superior economical intellect.

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  • Press Start & Win | GotGame March 17, 2014 at 9:53 PM

    […] said in my article “The Power Of ‘No’” that I hadn’t played Flappy Bird, but I did download it right before it was taken off the app […]

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