Dong Nguyen has emerged from the shadows, and amazingly, he chose to speak with Forbes’ Lan Anh Nguyen exclusively. It’s his first interview since announcing he was taking down his #1 selling game Flappy Bird, and then promptly following through on the promise a day later.
I highly suggest you check out Nguyen’s interview here, where he managed to discuss a few of the more pressing issues we’ve all been wondering about. I had the honor of crafting a few of these questions myself and sending them over Vietnam. Why exactly would he do this? What is going through the mind of a man who shuts down a game supposedly bringing in $50,000 in revenue daily?
Even with these new answers, Nguyen remains something of a mystery. His dual reasoning for taking Flappy Bird down was that players were getting too addicted to it, which he deems harmful, and that he was getting too much unwanted attention for the game. Despite the money, Nguyen says that his “life has not been as comfortable as I was before.”
Through these latest comments, Nguyen comes across as a simple man who means what he says. It really doesn’t feel like this was all a giant marketing stunt to increase sales of the game, and I do believe he thinks he was doing a good thing for the general public by deleting perhaps an overly addicting game. He says it’s not coming back, and it’s for the best. I would agree.
Despite attracting newfound mountains of attention with all the deletion drama this weekend, Nguyen says he feels liberated by the death of Flappy Bird, and he will continue to focus on developing other games. He already has a few other top selling ones in the app store, but promises he won’t delete them unless they also become too addicting.
Once again, all of this comes down to whether or not you believe Nguyen’s self-stated motivations. To me, he comes across as something of a gentle eccentric. He’s not fleeing from success completely as some seem to think, he’s just doing what he wants with a game he designed. It’s an incredibly unusual circumstance because even small companies that hit it big with games are still teams. Nguyen’s .GAME studio is literally one man, and if he decides enough is enough for one of his games, that’s it. He can wipe it off the map if he feels like it.
I also believe Nguyen’s claim that this wasn’t motivated by any legal threats. Nintendo just wouldn’t have a case against him based on the warp pipe art alone, and the creator of 2011′s Piou Piou said he wouldn’t pursue any legal action, just like Nguyen said in this interview he won’t go after his own clones. I do believe that Nguyen’s game is in fact some degree of a clone itself, and that should be pointed out, but with that said, the man never deserved to be directly harassed, insulted or threatened. I saw a litany of death threats leveled against the man by idiots on Twitter this weekend, and I can understand how that could affect someone deeply.
I think this interview cements what I suspected since this saga started. Dong Nguyen did indeed have a simple life before all this, and hasn’t quite figured out how to adjust to all this newfound fame. It’s certainly not expected behavior to erase the very thing that’s made you a household name in the video game world, and brought you millions of dollars, but I don’t think the events of this weekend had any sinister motivations behind them.
But also, Nguyen isn’t a martyr. He’s not picking up his toys and going home, nor has he “walked away from a fortune” per se. Flappy Bird already netted him a hefty amount of cash to be sure, and already installed copies are likely still bringing in loads of revenue daily. He’s still developing games and already has many that are popular at present. He is, and will continue to be, very successful in the app market, this unheard of deletion decision aside.
My hope for Nguyen is that he learns to adjust to his newfound celebrity, and shrugs off his vile critics while embracing constructive feedback. I hope his other new games are clearly original to avoid further accusations of cloning. I hope he continues to be an inspiration to his countrymen, and really, anyone who not only wants to make it big, but do so on their own terms.
Though I can’t prove it’s true, I want to believe someone can place the good of the public and peace of mind over money. Therefore, I believe in Dong Nguyen.