Flappy Bird dev says the game’s addictive qualities motivated its removal, but is that the whole story?


Flappy Bird Developer Dong Nguyen

It was over the weekend that we told you guys about Flappy Bird creator Dong Nguyen’s sudden decision to remove his smash hit game from all app stores. In fact, there were those that didn’t think he’d do it, calling the threat of removal a low-cost marketing stunt from a developer with an insatiable lust for additional downloads.

Instead there seemed to be a cloud looming over the game developer’s head, tweeting messages like, “I cannot take this anymore.” Can’t do what exactly? You’d think the $50,000 a day Nguyen was making purely from Flappy Birds in-app ad revenue, his biggest stresses would be whether he wanted silver, or 4k gold plated rims on his new Mercedes.

This lead many to wonder if the game’s heavy use of  Super Mario inspired visuals sparked a C&D from Nintendo, but Nguyen addressed this in followup tweets mentioning that legal threats had nothing to do with the take down. So what gives? What could have possibly lead to the greatest indie success story since Angry Birds to suddenly crash and burn? According to Nguyen: addiction.

Flappy Birds Anonymous

In a rare interview with Forbes, Nguyen attributes Flappy Bird’s sheer addictive qualities as motivation for the take down. He created a monster, and it was up to him to right his wrongs. While this may sound downright bizarre to many of us in the western world, video game addiction is taken very serious in Asian countries. It’s so serious that government officials in South Korea have begun regulating video game use, blocking gamers younger than 18 years old from playing between midnight and 8am.

When it comes to Nguyen’s other titles still available for download, he mentions that if he felt people were becoming addicted, he’d remove those as well. Such empathy.

Pressure from the outside?

But aside from weighing heavy on Nguyen’s conscience, it is possible other factors may involved? Remember, Ngyuen’s DotGears game studio is located in Vietnam, where communists still run the government, despite having a capitalist-style economy. Now, we don’t want to accuse anyone of fowl play, but when Nguyen is tweeting messages that he can’t sleep, the game has ruined his “simple life,” and “my life has not been as comfortable as I was before,” — it begins to sound like outside sources may have been involved.

It’s worth noting that right before the Forbes interview took place — where cameras and picture taking were strictly prohibited — Nguyen, was paid a visit by Vietnam’s deputy prime minister Vu Duc Dam, delaying the interview by several hours. Forbes notes that Nguyen appeared “stressed” during their interview. Once again, another odd piece in the puzzle that has been Flappy Bird.

RIP Flappy Bird

It’s possible we’ll likely never know the true story behind the meteoric rise (and subsequent) fall of Flappy Bird, but we’ll always remember the pain, love, and joy it brought to our Androids. The time for mourning is over — I think it’s time we finally move on.

Flappy Birds gif

Chris Chavez
I've been obsessed with consumer technology for about as long as I can remember, be it video games, photography, or mobile devices. If you can plug it in, I have to own it. Preparing for the day when Android finally becomes self-aware and I get to welcome our new robot overlords.

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  1. This was a lame game.

  2. yeah, he got muscled..

  3. Stealing backgrounds from Mario has nothing to do with it?

    1. Nintendo already said it had nothing to do with it.

        1. You keep posting this older article. The Forbes article linked in the article is newer.

          1. So???

          2. One article speculated one thing, then they actually asked the guy what happened. It’s possible both he and Nintendo are lying, but which is more believable, what he (and Nintendo) are saying, or some random speculation from a blogger.

          3. Dude! Read the article again. That article it’s not speculation.
            They’re quoting from a Reuters article that says: “Two friends of Dong said Nintendo had sent him a warning letter”.
            Maybe they both decided to not disclose the agreement and say that “they’re not suing” or “being sued”.

            When you make a game it’s not just about the money, you want other people to enjoy your work too. So, I’d rather believe that both are lying than believing the “I removed the game because it’s too addictive” excuse…

          4. Two random people without names claiming to be “friends” of the Flappy Birds guy told Reuter’s something. Gee, that cinches it… you’re right, everybody but these two unnamed persons is lying.

          5. You clearly don’t know what Reuters is, don’t you?
            They’re not a fan blog. They’re a large international news agency. They don’t just come up with an interview with somebody without confirming their identities first…

            But whatever dude, you’re free to think what you want.
            Take care, bye bye!

  4. Why the hell is this such huge news for every news outlet? The game sucked. It was terribly designed and exceedingly simple. Osmosis HD deserves way more attention than this one does. At least that game is not only beautiful, but it’s also original.

    1. It’s no so much the game itself as it was the phenomena. It was basic, sure. But with games like Dead Trigger featuring console-like graphics and MUCH higher development costs, Flappy Birds proved that a game doesn’t have to be flashy to get downloads (or make piles of money). It was a indie success story that ended abruptly.

      1. Well said.

      2. Imagine how annoyed those huge mobile gaming firms must feel. Thousands of man hours between so many people over so many months to make a complex game like Asphalt 8. All the work that goes into designing the intricate unique details of each level. All the licensing paid to each car manufacturer to use their cars…. And then they see a game completed in a tiny fraction of the man hours go absolutely viral. Ngyuen didn’t even create his own graphics but borrowed from “Nintendo” instead. The work to success disparity between these 2 is absolutely gigantic.

        Going further, imagine if you were a dev that slaved away over Asphalt 8 for months and you saw Ngyuen take Flappy Bird down. Any dev would kill to have a game that went viral like Flappy Bird. To see him take it down is like not accepting a gift being handed to you. Or like winning the lottery, being sad about it, and then throwing away half the money. In my opinion, Ngyuen can have all the empathy he wants and pretend to be so upset with himself over the “monster” he created. But what he really should do is accept his money and at least try to put a smile on his face.

    2. looks like someone sucked as$ and couldn’t get past 5…its okay dude.

      1. Hi score was 73. Played it for a day after downloading and haven’t touched it since.

        1. I got 45….and I was holding the phone with one hand while I was on a phone call with a coworker… #multitasking

          And to all of you: FLAPPY BIRD WILL LIVE ON!!!!!!ON MY PHONE!!!!!

    3. Also, the phenomenon of someone giving up $50k per day cash flow.

  5. Move on? Never!! It’s still on my phone and I will master it someday! Haha

    1. Can it ever be mastered? O_o

      1. Nope but I can try darn it! Lol

  6. I would have just redesigned it then updated the app with new visuals but still kept the 16-bit look..

  7. the story on this just gets more and more weird. or is it just what he’s trying to say is lost in translation?

  8. The people defending the game for such silly reasons, including “jealousy” over the fact he got rich, does kinda prove his point that he did create a monster. I mean, the gameplay is equal to that of Pong. There is no need to get so defensive.

    1. That article was written *before* Forbes interviewed him and appears to be speculation and rumor.

      1. It doesn’t matter if it was written before the interview. That doesn’t that he is not lying. The “I removed the game because it was too addictive” excuse seems like a lie to me.

  9. Try Amazing Cupid, folks.

  10. I didn’t even know what this app was until about a week ago. It’s alright. Not addicting. If anything is addicting it’s Brave Frontier. Facebook suggested that game to me and I’ve already spent about $100 in in-app purchases. =.[

    1. I’ll make sure to advertise my first app to you.

    2. The major addiction factor was if you had a bunch of friends who also played, and then competed back and forth for the highest score. Then again, after I put up a 125, people seemed to stop trying to challenge me…

      1. Dude… I worked so hard… SO HARD to get a score of 14. Then my friends came and posted scores in their 70’s, like it was nothing. =.[

        You’re one of those people I despise. I don’t know HOW you got so far. >.<

        But I see what you mean. Just them two alone; they were fighting for a top score. LoL!!

  11. why are you reporting on this game haha

  12. Flappy Bird proved many people are simple-minded and easily entertained.

    1. Sometimes those are the best games for mobile. Remember Snake?

      1. Now that’s a game I played for hours on my Nokia 6100

  13. Have you typed “Flappy Bird” into eBay lately? There are people selling their devices for thousands with flappy bird installed on them. What’s worse is people are buying them. I stumbled on thatthis morning, apologies if it already has been covered.

    1. Never mind, it clearly has been covered thanks to the related articles directly above. Winning.

  14. So my question is, does he still get to receive ad revenue from the people who still have it installed? Regardless of whether this take down was purely his own doing or if he was pressured into taking the game down, I would go out of my way to get the apk and click on those ads to support him.

    1. i don’t see why he wouldn’t still be getting money for it. The ads are still in the game. Someone is still making money off of it.

  15. Poor guy, now I feel bad for him living in a communist nation.

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