Flappy Bird was the biggest thing in gaming for 2014, according to Google. In a new report analyzing the year’s search data, Google listed the top trending games of 2014, in descending order: Flappy Bird, 2048, FIFA 15, Destiny, and Titanfall. Two mobile games developed by individuals in under three days each beating out Destiny, reportedly the most expensive game ever developed, is a sobering reality check for what gaming meant to most people in 2014.
According to Google Trends, Flappy Bird‘s peak popularity in February (when guilt over the game’s addictiveness drove designer Dong Nguyen to pull it) dwarfed any other games from the year, securing the top average even with a rapidly diminishing tail of interest for the remainder of the year.
Mobile puzzler and Threes clone 2048 never hit the height of Flappy Bird or Destiny at their peaks, but nevertheless sustained a slower-burning plateau of popularity from its release in March through the spring and early summer, earning it the number two spot for overall average search popularity.
In an interesting and perhaps related note, searches for “’90s computer games” surged 20x over the previous year. This exploding interest in older games is no doubt fueled by the rising popularity and critical acclaim of lo-fi indie releases like Shovel Knight and 1001 Spikes.
Card games were also apparently the most searched game format, taking the crown from mobile games. That growth is likely bolstered by the rise of Blizzard’s digital card game, Hearthstone, along with the steady and impressive growth of the card and board gaming industry from the last few years. Graphics look better than ever, but gameplay was king in 2014.
One final, encouraging note is that we searched for “games for girls” more than “games for kids” or “games for boys.” While it should be noted that, for too many people, searching simply for “games” all but implies “for boys/kids,” the increased public discourse on the presence and treatment of women in gaming, both as players and creators, is a heartening step toward gaming’s egalitarian future. More people playing more kinds of games is fantastic news for anyone invested in the hobby.
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