The creator of the surprise-hit mobile game, Flappy Bird, says that the sudden popularity of the sadistic app ruined his life, but that he’s not totally opposed to bringing it back to app stores. See how the dedicated developer suffers for
money… err… his art and supporters?
Dong Nguyen catapulted to internet stardom and quick riches in just a matter of weeks when Flappy Bird went from unnoticed app store also-ran to the top of the charts on both iOS and Android. Figuring out the game’s success is as frustrating a task as playing the game itself, as Nguyen himself says he doesn’t know what made Flappy Bird take off.
“I was just making something fun to share with other people,” Nguyen told Rolling Stone, which tracked down the reclusive programmer for an interview. “I couldn’t predict the success of Flappy Bird.”
Nguyen says he did no marketing footwork for Flappy Bird beyond just a couple of tweets. About five months after its release, it saw its first Twitter mention by someone that was not Nguyen: some poet turned game reviewer summed up the experience in three words, “F*** Flappy Bird.”
The rest is infamy. Word spread among gaming blogs that there was an addictively difficult game shooting up the app charts. A self-fulfilling prophecy, that, as more and more attention for Flappy Bird drew more and more attention to Flappy Bird. At its peak, the game was pulling in $50,000 per day for Nguyen; that’s after Apple and Google took their customary 30 percent cuts of ad revenue.
It proved to be too much for Nguyen, though, as the programmer – who says he had really just set out to make a simple, difficult game suited for touchscreen players – began seeing reports that people’s lives were being consumed by Flappy fever. Nguyen, apparently unaware that those people didn’t really have lives before Flappy Bird anyway, was unable to enjoy the success.
“I couldn’t be too happy,” he says in the interview. Adding to his unhappiness were messages from the requisite haters, with one woman saying Nguyen was “distracting the children of the world.” Another said that “13 kids at my school broke their phones because of your game, and they still play it cause it’s addicting like crack.”
Even when Nguyen pulled Flappy Bird from app stores, another 10 million people downloaded the game when they heard it would soon flap no more. That’s 10 million more souls turning to digital masochism. Of course, it still pulls in app revenue for Nguyen, and we hear that wads of money are really useful at sopping up tears of regret.
In Flappy Bird‘s wake, of course, there sprung up no end of clones. Flappy Turds, Birdy Flaps, Crappy Turds, and more sprung up on iOS, Android, and Windows Phone, leading Apple and Google to issue a moratorium on games with “Flappy” in the title. There were also the pop-culture mashups, because it’s just not enough to punish yourself with Flappy‘s gameplay. Now there are clones that have you piloting Fall Out Boy, Drake, and Miley Cyrus images through obstacle courses. There is even – God help us – a “Gangnam Style”-themed clone. Because.
Nguyen has turned down offers from others to purchase the game, but he holds open the possibility that it will return to the assorted app stores at some point in the near future. He would probably reissue Flappy Bird, though, with a warning to users: “Please take a break.”
Nguyen has a strange evaluation of the game game that pulled in $50,000 a day for him, though:
“I can call ‘Flappy Bird’ is a success of mine,” he once tweeted, “But it also ruins my simple life. So now I hate it.”
“Hate” it all the way to the bank, that is.