Flappy Bird: Dong Nguyen removes popular game from app stores.

Flappy Bird Stops Flapping—But Why?

Flappy Bird Stops Flapping—But Why?

The Slatest
Your News Companion
Feb. 9 2014 3:56 PM

Flappy Bird Stops Flapping—But Why?

flappy

Screenshot from Apple's iTunes store

The most addictive, maddeningly difficult mobile game of recent memory is gone. The creator of the surprising smash hit Flappy Bird came through with his promise and on Sunday the game was no longer available in either the Google Play or Apple’s App Store, notes CNet. The move was expected, but still surprising. A day earlier, Dong Nguyen, the Vietnamese creator behind the smash hit, took to his Twitter account to say that the game that was at the top of the most-popular rankings for both Apple and Android would soon cease to exist.

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Dong Nguyen didn’t explain why he would take down the game that had been downloaded more than 50 million times and was reportedly making him some $50,000 a day in ad revenue, only writing that he “cannot take this anymore.” He dismissed speculation that the game was facing legal trouble and emphasized that he was not looking to sell the game. Only recently he had told the Verge that he was thinking about a sequel to the game.

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Many were left scratching their heads, particularly considering that Nguyen had released an update to the game on Friday. Nguyen pulled down the game as he faced skepticism from some who said he had been using bots to propel the game up the charts and of stealing Nintendo graphics. And some wondered whether this couldn’t all just be some amazing marketing ploy. As Robert Scoble wrote on Facebook:

Genius.
Release a game that makes you enough in a week to survive several years without a salary. Then tell everyone you are deleting that game.
This sets you up for releasing a new game in a few months and the hype on that new game will be extraordinary. "From the developer of Flappy Bird..."
Everyone will buy that new game, making him even richer, because of the fear that he'll delete that game too.

But his Twitter account also suggests Nguyen may have simply been a developer overwhelmed by unexpected success. "I can call Flappy Bird is a success of mine," wrote Nguyen on February 8. "But it also ruins my simple life. So now I hate it." Four days earlier, he had written that "press people are overrating the success of my games. ... Please give me peace."

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the Today’s Papers column from 2006 to 2009. Follow him on Twitter.