In a bizarre turn of events, the Vietnamese creator of the maddeningly difficult #1 Android and Apple iOS game Flappy Bird is saying that he’s taking the game down within the next day.
Developer Dong Nguyen announced the decision on Twitter just a few hours ago:
“I am sorry ‘Flappy Bird’ users, 22 hours from now, I will take ‘Flappy Bird’ down. I cannot take this anymore.”
“It is not anything related to legal issues. I just cannot keep it anymore.”
“I also don’t sell ‘Flappy Bird’, please don’t ask.”
“And I still make games.”
Nguyen has been the target of a lot of internet hate for creating what many deem a pretty terrible game. In my own teardown of Flappy Bird, I didn’t say I begrudge Nguyen for making such a game, but rather the public who would elevate the title to such popularity. But is criticism alone enough reason to take down the game entirely?
This sort of move is perplexing as Nguyen is reported to be bringing in $50,000 a day from in-app advertising revenue. It would be understandable if say, Nintendo was suing him for ripping off their art, but he claims that isn’t the case.
He also says he’s not interested in selling Flappy Bird, and he still makes other games, many of which are also quite popular on the Android and iOS app stores.
Is this really just a guy who can’t cope with sudden fame and success, or is something else going on here? Is there really a level of internet vitriol that can make someone simply throw away $50,000 a day? I suppose with the amount of flack Nguyen has taken, it can wear on someone, but why delete Flappy Bird and not his other popular, also simplistic titles? If his other games become even more popular and are subsequently also criticized, will he take those down too?
The majority of his Twitter interactions are actually positive conversations with individual fans, thanking them for their support or answering their questions. I was hard pressed to find actual hate-filled comments responding to any of his tweets, even in his most recent ones about taking the game down. That said, I’m sure he’s seen negative things said about him or the game elsewhere on the internet, and one hurtful comment can offset a hundred uplifting ones.
A tweet from Nguyen earlier today says “I can call ‘Flappy Bird’ is a success of mine. But it also ruins my simple life. So now I hate it.” Perhaps this really is just an ordinary guy who will do anything to shed the spotlight that was inadvertently cast on him by the public. Still, I’ve never seen anything like this.
I’m not sure I see Nguyen as an entirely sympathetic figure here. While no one deserves personal threats or attacks (if that’s what’s happening), I think criticism of the game or his design of it is valid. The idea is lifted from a thousand other similar games before it. The art and sound effects are taken almost directly from Super Mario Bros, while the bird design and tap mechanics are from 2011′s Piou Piou. These are typical mobile games problems, and the fact that Flappy Bird has been so popular only reinforces the idea that other developers should try to clone their way to the top of the charts.
This all seems very strange, and the story is still developing as we speak. I’ll post updates if any further information comes to light. In the meantime, feel free to suggest your own theories about what exactly is going on here.
Well, I thought there’d be some new bit of information about this by the end of the day, but Dong Nguyen has gone silent and isn’t responding to requests for comment from what I can tell. He’s just one man with no PR representation, and he may not fully comprehend the scale of what he’s announced. He expressed a desire to be rid of the fame Flappy Bird has brought him, but saying he’s going to kill the most popular app in the world has only skyrocketed interest in both him and the game. Since saying he was pulling the game in the next day, he’s amassed another 45,000 Twitter followers and I can’t even imagine what his inbox looks like. As the takedown of Flappy Bird is supposed to happen tomorrow, we should presumably hear more from him then.