It would appear that the Flappy Bird saga is still far from over. The game’s creator Dong Nguyen, who pulled the title from iOS and Android at the height of its popularity, says that he is considering returning the game to app stores.
In a new interview with Rolling Stone, Nguyen talks about a wide range of things, including why he pulled Flappy Bird in the first place, and how it has affected his life. He also says that he has been contemplating bringing the game back…
Flappy Bird went live on the iOS App Store on May 24th, but it remained relatively unknown for several months. That changed going into December when the game began picking up steam, and by the next month it was the top free app.
“As word spread from Reddit to YouTube, playgrounds to office parks, Flappy Bird rose to the Top 10 of the U.S. charts by early January. Finally, with no promotion, no plan, no logic, on January 17th, Flappy Bird hit Number One. A week or two later, it topped the Google Play store, too.
“Seeing the game on top, I felt amazing,” Nguyen recalls. Like everyone else, he was shocked by its meteoric rise – and the avalanche of money that would be wired into his bank account. Even with Apple and Google’s 30 percent take, Nguyen estimated he was clearing $50,000 a day.”
But the joy was short-lived. Once word got out of how much money he was making, Nguyen’s face began appearing in Vietnamese papers and on TV, and local paparazzi besieged. The worst of it all, though, were the messages he began to receive.
“He hands me his iPhone so that I can scroll through some messages he’s saved. One is from a woman chastising him for “distracting the children of the world.” Another laments that “13 kids at my school broke their phones because of your game, and they still play it cause it’s addicting like crack.” Nguyen tells me of e-mails from workers who had lost their jobs, a mother who had stopped talking to her kids. “At first I thought they were just joking,” he says, “but I realize they really hurt themselves.” Nguyen – who says he botched tests in high school because he was playing too much Counter-Strike – genuinely took them to heart.
By early February, the weight of everything – the scrutiny, the relentless criticism and accusations – felt crushing. He couldn’t sleep, couldn’t focus, didn’t want to go outdoors. His parents, he says, “worried about my well-being.” His tweets became darker and more cryptic. “I can call ‘Flappy Bird’ is a success of mine,” read one. “But it also ruins my simple life. So now I hate it.” He realized there was one thing to do: Pull the game. After tweeting that he was taking it down, 10 million people downloaded it in 22 hours. Then he hit a button, and Flappy Bird disappeared.”
Following the removal of the game, rumors began to spread that Nguyen had committed suicide or was being sued by Nintendo. But actually, he’s doing great. He’s still making $1000s per day from Flappy Bird ads, and is working on new titles.
“Since taking Flappy Bird down, he says he’s felt “relief. I can’t go back to my life before, but I’m good now.” As for the future of his flapper, he’s still turning down offers to purchase the game. Nguyen refuses to compromise his independence. But will Flappy Bird ever fly again? “I’m considering it,” Nguyen says. He’s not working on a new version, but if he ever releases one it will come with a “warning,” he says: “Please take a break.”
The entire Rolling Stone piece is worth reading, as it goes into great detail about Flappy Bird’s success and its creator. Even if you didn’t like the game, you have to admit it has had, and will continue to have an impact on the mobile gaming world.