Creator of popular ‘Flappy Bird’ discontinues game

BY Ruth Tam  February 11, 2014 at 2:50 PM EST
The popular mobile app “Flappy Bird” has been downloaded more than 50 million times. Photo by Flickr user Desiree Catani

The popular mobile app “Flappy Bird” has been downloaded more than 50 million times. Photo by Flickr user Desiree Catani

Not many people choose to walk away from a fortune. But that’s exactly what Dong Nguyen, 29, did as the creator of the notoriously difficult but immensely popular smartphone game “Flappy Bird.”

“Flappy Bird,” which appears as a throwback to 1980s arcade games, compels you to navigate a tiny, yellow bird with obtrusive orange lips through a series of green pipes. A single finger tap keeps the bird in the air but unless timed perfectly, the bird will not fly between the pipes but crash into them and restart the game.

The game was downloaded more than 50 million times and was reportedly bringing in more than $50,000 per day from in-app ads. It was the most downloaded free app in Apple’s App Store in January but on February 8, at the peak of “Flappy Bird’s” popularity, Nguyen posted these cryptic apologies on Twitter:

 

 

The difficulty of the game earned Nguyen several dramatic reviews calling him an “evil genius” and “satan himself.” But was the attention really so bad that it would prompt a removal of the game?

In the days following Nguyen’s informal announcement, media speculated over what triggered such an abrupt upheaval. In an interview with Forbes in his native Vietnam, Nguyen explained he wanted to preserve the game’s simplicity.

“Flappy Bird was designed to play in a few minutes when you are relaxed, said Nguyen. “But it happened to become an addictive product. I think it has been a problem. To solve that problem, it’s best to take down Flappy Bird. It’s gone forever.”

True to his word, Nguyen deleted the app from mobile app stores a day after his announcement.

“Flappy Bird is a success of mine,” he conceded in tweet. “But it also ruins my simple life. So now I hate it.”

Unable to understand this departure, numerous reports of his suicide appeared online. Such claims were invalidated after the Forbes interview appeared, describing him more relaxed after a few days free from the Internet.

Not to be outdone, numerous “Flappy Bird” copycats such as “Flappy Bee” and “Flying Flappy Unicorn Bird” popped up around the web. On eBay, an auction for an iPhone with “Flappy Bird” downloaded reached $99,900 before administrators removed it.

Nguyen is not planning on selling “Flappy Bird” and is not planning on taking legal action against its lookalikes. Instead, he has hinted at a sequel and for those still not sated, Nguyen’s four other games are still online.