Flappy Bird is no more, or at least is on its way to becoming just a little bit less ubiquitous. Dong Nguyen, the Vietnamese developer of the simplistic, but irritatingly difficult and addictive mobile time-killer looks to be making good on his promise to remove the game from the Google Play store and Apple App Store.
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On Saturday, as Paul Tassi covered for Forbes, Nguyen tweeted that he would be taking the game down as of noon eastern time on Sunday, citing the apparent stresses and pressures of dealing with the response to his overnight gaming sensation that shot to the top of the free app charts last month.
Nguyen said he had no interest in selling the game, which has reportedly been making the one-man shop $50,000 a day in ad revenue, and that the decision had nothing to do with legal issues (Forbes contributor Erik Kain is among those that have speculated that the game’s resemblance to some of the art from Nintendo's Super Mario series could draw the company’s ire). Instead, he simply said on Twitter that “I cannot take this anymore.”
As promised, Flappy Bird was no longer available in the Google Play store and iTunes App Store as of noon Sunday.
There’s been plenty of speculation that taking down the world’s most popular mobile game of late could be a stroke of marketing genius, cultivating a ton of attention, last minute downloads, and perhaps building hype for a possible follow-up game.
This is certainly a possibility, but Nguyen’s Twitter feed going back 18 months doesn’t read like the thoughts of a viral marketing mastermind. As Flappy Bird really began to take off in a viral way last month, Nguyen seems to try to keep up with the flood of questions and requests, but becomes increasingly apologetic for his inability to stay on top of the deluge. He also tries to downplay the success of the game in multiple tweets, like in this February 4th response to a reporter from Newsweek:
“I think press should give my game some peace. Its success is really overrate! I’m sorry, I refuse to answer questions.”
He also blames interruptions from the press for slow progress on the game and the arrival of a Windows Phone version.
In the end, it all seemed to be too much for Nguyen.
I can call ‘Flappy Bird’ is a success of mine. But it also ruins my simple life. So now I hate it.
— Dong Nguyen (@dongatory) February 8, 2014
Flappy Bird itself was actually released earlier in 2013 with no more fanfare than a few simple tweets from Nguyen. He was then silent for months afterward on Twitter. Clearly he was not trying to push the game viral with much fervor.
I suppose it’s possible that some great social marketing minds has got their claws into Flappy Bird, and its demise is part of a master scheme to hype it or its successor, but it actually reminds me more of behavior I’ve seen from a well-known name in Silicon Valley: Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak.
The original lovable nerd in the game for the sake of making things more than profits, Wozniak is also one of the more approachable people in technology, always willing to answer questions or return a reporter’s email. At the same time, I’ve seen him share his apologetic exasperation at his inability to keep up and respond individually to all the birthday wishes he receives on social media.
Nguyen seems to be in the same vein, and it’s kind of a shame. If he were to tell a few more reporters to shove it so he could get back to work, we’d probably understand. Or, maybe it’s time to hire a publicist.