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Flappy Bird withdrawn from sale

Flappy Bird withdrawn from sale

Mon 10 Feb 2014 8:43am GMT / 3:43am EST / 12:43am PST
PublishingDevelopment

Developer of smash hit mobile title claims, "I cannot take this any more"

The developer of the popular iOS and Android game Flappy Bird has withdrawn it from sale, giving no clear explanation for his actions.

Dong Nguyen, who runs his .GEARS studio in Hanoi, Vietnam, indicated that he would be removing Flappy Bird from sale on Saturday. At that time, the game was one of the most popular on both the iOS and Android stores, making around $50,000 a day in ad revenue from 50 million downloads.

"I am sorry Flappy Bird users, 22 hours from now, I will take Flappy Bird down. I cannot take this any more," the tweet read.

In subsequent tweets, Dong Nguyen dismissed the idea that the decision was due to potential legal problems over Flappy Bird's similarities to other popular mobile games. He also reiterated that he would would not sell Flappy Birds, and that he remains an active game developer.

The idea that Dong Nguyen withdrew his game at the peak of its popularity to avoid a lawsuit will not be easily dispelled, but there is at least some evidence that he did not want such an extreme level of exposure. In an interview with TechCrunch on February 1, he claimed that, as a solo developer, he lacked the resources to offer support for his games beyond uploading them to app stores.

Last week, Kotaku noticed a tweet in which Dong Nguyen openly lamented the attention of the media. "Press people are overrating the success of my games. It is something I never want. Please give me peace."

Nguyen Dong has resisted any attempts at contact, and cancelled a planned interview with at least one media outlet. Flappy Bird can still be played by those who downloaded it before it was pulled.

49 Comments

Paul Johnson Managing Director / Lead code monkey, Rubicon Development

925 1,569 1.7
Oh no, this is terrible. I'm going to need another app to obsess on whilst I'm busy watching carefully crafted well made games fail all over the place.

Ungrateful git.

Posted:9 months ago

#1

Villhauer Benjamin Head of Sourcing, Gameforge

6 2 0.3
Or he is just a genius pulling an PR stunt. The game would have faded away in the next weeks anyhow so why not give it a last push by setting a deadline and getting in more players.

Shame though that good/better games do not get the attention they deserve.

Posted:9 months ago

#2

Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic

1,613 1,476 0.9
so why not give it a last push by setting a deadline and getting in more players.
Perhaps, though I doubt it. The number of death-threats he received on Twitter... Well, I don't think any PR is worth that.

Posted:9 months ago

#3

Paul Johnson Managing Director / Lead code monkey, Rubicon Development

925 1,569 1.7
Popular Comment
That's easily fixed.

Twitter:uninstall

Posted:9 months ago

#4

Nick McCrea Gentleman, Pocket Starship

215 441 2.1
Popular Comment
Just to offer a counterpoint here, he's a guy from Vietnam who has extremely suddenly and publicly became rich. If you think there's no downsides to that situation, you're not using your imagination sufficiently...

Posted:9 months ago

#5

Phil Hindle Technical Director, FreeStyleGames

19 37 1.9
Popular Comment
People seem to be unable to empathise with the guy's situation.

Look - criticise or praise a game all you want. If you put something out there, you have to be prepared to accept criticism of your work. But as Morville said, what seems to have happened is that the world seems to suddenly have a massive personal axe to grind with the author of Flappy Bird. What on earth gives people the right to verbally abuse, insult and threaten him, just because they don't like his game which has become virally successful (regardless of it's "worth")?

Especially since this game doesn't cost a single penny, If you don't like it, then that's fine, just don't play it, or uninstall it. But don't hate the bloke who made it.

Posted:9 months ago

#6

Tim Browne Lead Game Designer, Ubisoft Annecy

21 51 2.4
Popular Comment
@Paul Johnson

These idiotic comments are one of the reasons I stopped posting on GI.biz.

Perhaps a bit of games industry solidarity? The game may not to be to yours or my tastes but the guy removed it because of the abuse he was receiving. Some of us know what that's like.

Edited 3 times. Last edit by Tim Browne on 10th February 2014 1:31pm

Posted:9 months ago

#7

Ruud Van De Moosdijk VP of Development, Engine Software

51 58 1.1
Will have to agree with Tim here...as the main producer behind Terraria on consoles (just as often lauded as heralded) abuse from the community is not a stranger to me. Up to the point where I had to create a new account for PSN to protect my children. That has nothing to do with the game's success, I am thrilled with it and I am active in the community on forums etc, but some people...I can totally see it becoming too much for one lone programmer in Hanoi. Handling success is often more difficult than handling failure, depending on your personality and the people around you.

Posted:9 months ago

#8

Neilie Johnson Freelance Game Journalist

2 6 3.0
Absolutely horrible what developers deal with, successful or otherwise. I'm constantly amazed by the amount and level of vitriol people spew on the internet.

Posted:9 months ago

#9

matthew bennion Web Development

34 33 1.0
As if he removed it because of abuse he removed it clearly because Nintendo were banging at his door!

Flappy Bird featuring Mario pipes!

Edited 1 times. Last edit by matthew bennion on 10th February 2014 6:47pm

Posted:9 months ago

#10

Emily Rose Freelance Artist

86 46 0.5
Another disgusting example of humanity, if they don't like it they shouldn't play it.

The abuse is ridiculous. I can imagine Phil Fish and Dong Nguyen won't be the last developers to leave due to toxicity...I'm glad Nguyen isn't fully leaving but I imagine the abuse won't stop :(

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Emily Rose on 10th February 2014 7:03pm

Posted:9 months ago

#11

Nick Wofford Hobbyist

180 190 1.1
Yeah, it's completely ridiculous what this guy's getting. And some of it is from the journalists in the industry. Sites giving crap to the guy for making what amounts to an Internet flash game, while praising Rovio for making what amounts to an Internet flash game. I like Angry Birds and Rovio, but they're just as unimaginative as this guy.

Some consistency would be nice, but then, that would make sense. Since when is that allowed in this industry?

Posted:9 months ago

#12

Roger Edwards Writer/Blogger/Podcaster

6 7 1.2
@ Nick McCrea

I like the cut of your jib, Sir. Spot on.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Roger Edwards on 10th February 2014 7:21pm

Posted:9 months ago

#13

Frank Trottier Analyst programmer

23 23 1.0
To continue from Ruud post, get ready again for some massive wording.. In this fabricated world of duality (people have to suffer to be happy) if you become successful half the world indeed will shit on you and half will praise you. One has to focus on what's interesting and be the driving force. The thinking "nothing is free" is so entrenched in the minds that success alone won't be enough. Many will constantly look for the downfall, because seemingly it's much more credible when its far away and inaccessible. It's not supposed to happen..

Posted:9 months ago

#14
I do sometimes worry about the state of modern society, have we become so very touchy feely that, even with a nice drip of cash directly to our vanes, we cant put up with a bit of exactly what you expect when you open up a sewer drain, the internet is a cesspit not to surprising to anyone who's ever actually used it, especially those who've done so since their youth, sure its usefull just like the sewer system, doesnt mean you want to go wading through some of it unprotected, have these people heard of getting over it, who cares if anonymous cesspit dweller number 6 million 592 thousand 319 posted an insulting comment, sorry to state a bit of old fashioned logic here, but grow a spine, and stop paying quite so much attention to such things.

There are a never ending list of people who will happily provide a similar comment, doesn't matter what you do, good or bad, someone will hate you for it, lots of people, and some people will do it just because they have nothing better to do, some do it just to see other people rage about them doing it, some do it because they're crazy, it doesn't really matter why at the end given there's nothing anyone can do to prevent it, welcome to the real world. Sure its certainly disgusting in a certain sense, but to be honest thats humanity for you, can look all nice on the outside but don't go digging around underneath and expect the same pleasant view.

You cant fix the world and remove these people, even if by some miracle you managed to get them off the internet you'd know people still think and in some cases act exactly the same way, you can fein surprise in polite society all we like, but most people who went to school or any other communal place since for that matter realise that an awful lot of people aren't very nice, sure its not a good thing, but ultimately you cant change that, all you can do is control your own actions and reactions, if your going to go on somewhere like twitter, if you ever get famous you will get abuse, that's reality, and everyone and their dog knows it or ought to by now, so just remember the old adage, sticks and stones can break your bones but words can never hurt you, as long as you rule your own head and heart properly they cant.

So if you choose to go it alone or in a small group directly to the public the possibility for abuse always exist, if you lack the ability to handle this, then frankly you'll just have to find a different job, plenty of jobs in the industry without such public exposure, expecting the world to change to your expectations, is hardly a winning idea, sure its wrong, but life isnt fair, never has been, probably never will be, and if one day it will be fair, we will probably cease to be what today we define as human, so realise such people are a joke and ignore them, and live your dreams or take them seriously, let them get to you and it becomes your nightmare, the world is what it is, but your life is what you make of it.

Posted:9 months ago

#15

Christopher Bowen Editor in Chief, Gaming Bus

459 738 1.6
I'm dumbfounded that people are saying this is some marketing stunt. Are we that cynical? This guy was pretty obviously shitting his pants from the moment this went viral. Marketing genius? Only if that involves knees buckling.

Posted:9 months ago

#16

Paul Johnson Managing Director / Lead code monkey, Rubicon Development

925 1,569 1.7
Perhaps a bit of games industry solidarity? The game may not to be to yours or my tastes but the guy removed it because of the abuse he was receiving. Some of us know what that's like.
And the rest of us who are struggling to pay staff with families to care for are writing quality projects that are desperate for exposure like this.

If you don't want a product to succeed then don't make it and leave space for the rest of us who have a lot more riding on it.

Posted:9 months ago

#17

Christopher Bowen Editor in Chief, Gaming Bus

459 738 1.6
Popular Comment
Paul, I think we can forgive this one tiny developer out in Vietnam for not considering his place in the world when he wrote his dinky little game and slapping it on the App Store for a buck.

Posted:9 months ago

#18

Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant

1,692 594 0.4
@Paul Johnson
writing quality projects that are desperate for exposure like this
Then learn how to do it.
Getting publicity is a skill. Like game development but more creative.

Posted:9 months ago

#19

Mateusz Makowiec CMO, Teyon

1 0 0.0
Are you sure it is not a well-thought-out decision?

There are strong indications that the developer could have used bots to promote his game:
- http://www.bluecloudsolutions.com/blog/flappy-birds-smoke-mirrors-scamming-app-store/
- https://sensortower.com/flappy-bird-scripted-reviews-analysis

Considering his other two games became very popular thanks to Flappy Bird position in the rankings, it makes sense for the developer to remove the game from the App Store (and thus avoid further speculations about the bots and possible Apple investigation). At this point, his two other games are soaring on the Flappy Bird's recent popularity and still make money.

That is only a speculation, but nontheless possible one.

Posted:9 months ago

#20

Paul Johnson Managing Director / Lead code monkey, Rubicon Development

925 1,569 1.7
@Christopher

Forgive him for what? Moaning about having too much success? I couldn't give a monkeys about how much it's deserved. But I can't be the only one utterly bewildered by the lack of appreciation it's author has for the success the public gave him. I'd kill for far less than he got. And so would most people posting here.

Posted:9 months ago

#21

Paul Johnson Managing Director / Lead code monkey, Rubicon Development

925 1,569 1.7
Then learn how to do it. Getting publicity is a skill. Like game development but more creative.
That's getting a bit old now tbh. Most of us struggle to reach a pro standard in just one field. Doing so in two is not in the cards without help. It's just not.

I even agree that marketing is more important than quality developing, but it's still just a pointless proposition. Being a brain surgeon at a top USA hospital is even more guaranteed to make money than well-publicised indie games, but an equally pointless fact to a small game developer.

And said from a marketing expert just looks fatuous. I could say "get good at coding and do your own PR" but I know it's stupid because game development is also hard, not just something you can learn on the side.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Paul Johnson on 11th February 2014 12:09am

Posted:9 months ago

#22

Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic

1,613 1,476 0.9
I presume people have read Mike Bithell's recent blog post on success...?

Posted:9 months ago

#23

Christopher Bowen Editor in Chief, Gaming Bus

459 738 1.6
@Paul - I've had articles of mine blow the hell up, and get 1000X what I'd normally get from traffic. It can be weird, to say the least. Furthermore, that's usually not because people are all giving me high fives and feeding me grapes; it's because I said or did something that a vocal subsection of people disagreed with, and wanted to say as much. Forcefully. All it takes to, for example, make a death threat is an anonymous GMail account and being a generally bad person. You don't take them seriously, but if you're not used to it...

You call this success. I don't think he had this in mind when he thought of what "success" meant. Technically speaking, my more controversial articles have been "successful" - advertisers would see it this way - even if they forced me to have to buy Tums.

Posted:9 months ago

#24

Ian Leydic Student - Business Administration (M. Sc.)

3 0 0.0
I guess I just don't see what the point in pulling the from the app stores accomplishes for him. I mean if anything it brought even more exposure to the game which it seems he doesn't want. I don't think he should be getting abuse for his game, but I don't see this being the solution to ending it.

Posted:9 months ago

#25
It seems like everyone who has success is a marketing genius. Personally I think a lot of it comes down to having the right product and ALOT of luck.

Flappy Bird is exactly the type of game that works on iOS. It's mechanic reminds me of a game I played on the BBC Micro which I always thought would work well on iOS mixed with a bit of the look of TinyWings. The problem with iOS is that there are a million games like it and it takes ALOT of luck to be the one that goes viral however one always does, it just happened to be this one.

I'm as cynical as anyone but I believe him. I don't see the point in withdrawing it from the AppStore. I don't see how this story will increase it's exposure enough in the short term to make up for the lost downloads after it's been removed and the idea that Nintendo will sue him because the pipes look a bit like the ones in Mario is just preposterous. Nintendo care about gameplay and their IP, this game looks to steal neither.

Posted:9 months ago

#26

Bonnie Patterson Freelance Narrative Designer

186 520 2.8
Regarding the abuse the poor man received, nothing excuses it. Whether or not Nintendo have had their IP ripped off, that is for Nintendo to deal with as they see fit, not for a vigilante legion of gamers to enforce with "colourful" death threats and abuse.

How the developer deals with it - whether or not he's "tough enough" to meet your standards - is also not up to the general public. And frankly, as long as people's reactions are first to critique the victim, it'll just keep getting worse.

Posted:9 months ago

#27

Paul Johnson Managing Director / Lead code monkey, Rubicon Development

925 1,569 1.7
@Christopher again

When you make something and sell it for money, the degree of success is measured by net profit. Be that a game, a popular blog byline or whatever.

You can talk about art and other qualities, and you can make games for fun or art or just to get people talking. But the moment you put on a pricetag (or other monetisation) it becomes a commercial venture pure and simple. I've not yet experienced a large degree of "success" at selling my own stuff, but I know all about critically acclaimed failures. And hardcore whining and threats too.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Paul Johnson on 11th February 2014 12:19am

Posted:9 months ago

#28

Paul Jace Merchandiser

945 1,433 1.5
So this is why Fish left. So sad that developers have to go thru this at all.

Posted:9 months ago

#29

Emily Rose Freelance Artist

86 46 0.5
Paul it's been out for over a year. It just recently went viral for i-have-no-idea-what reason. He's been making little games and getting non-surprising returns. You can't predict this.

Posted:9 months ago

#30

Tim Browne Lead Game Designer, Ubisoft Annecy

21 51 2.4
Sadly I've just read that he committed suicide a little earlier today.

I want to make a glib comment on it potentially being a PR stunt or how dare he do this when he is getting so much success but you get my sentiment.

I feel sorry for him and of course his family an those who were close.

UPDATE - Yes apparently I fell for the hoax. My opinion in the above statements remain the same though.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Tim Browne on 11th February 2014 8:25am

Posted:9 months ago

#31

Aaron Johnson

24 40 1.7
That suicide report is a hoax (thankfully!). What a horrible world we live in that people make such things up

Posted:9 months ago

#32

James Gallagher Marketing Planner, Futuremark Corporation

29 12 0.4
Meanwhile, the opportunists are swooping in: https://www.elance.com/r/jobs/q-flappy%20bird/

Edited 1 times. Last edit by James Gallagher on 11th February 2014 7:11am

Posted:9 months ago

#33

Alfonso Sexto Lead Tester, Ubisoft Germany

837 671 0.8
@Tim Browse.
@Paul Johnson

These idiotic comments are one of the reasons I stopped posting on GI.biz.
Thanks for sparing me that comment. I'm beginning to think that the self-entitlement and lack of respect to other colleagues has jump from the gaming community to the professional environment.

Posted:9 months ago

#34

Eyal Teler Programmer

93 99 1.1
@Morville O'Driscoll, thanks for the mention of that blog post. It's an interesting read. I'm sure that if anything of mine goes viral (well, I first have to release something) I'll have a hard time dealing with it.

Posted:9 months ago

#35

matthew bennion Web Development

34 33 1.0
If you write a game and publish it to the public domain you've created your own exposure. It doesn't give people the right to be abusive but you've given them the door from which to do it.

Posted:9 months ago

#36

Adam Campbell Associate Producer, Miniclip Ltd

1,200 1,017 0.8
Paul,

There's always a price for fame and success and we can't all cope in the same way.

I do find that many people who complain are in some way jealous of the success and feel as if 'the famous' don't appreciate it, which sounds a lot like your position - but bear in mind for a minute, their drive may not have been money or fame in the first place.

Whether its a child star who just loved to sing (and went of the rails in adulthood after the money, pressures and scrutiny they were exposed to) or a man who just wanted to make a game and now struggles to cope with the money, pressures and scrutiny, he's been exposed to, they're humans and should be treated with respect.

Dong Nguyen said "I can't take it anymore", why can't you understand that basic expression of distress?

Posted:9 months ago

#37
@ Emily Rose

There are no reason why these things go viral. Well there technically probably was but it's like the butterfly effect, good luck trying to find it and reproduce it.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by John Owens on 11th February 2014 11:35am

Posted:9 months ago

#38

Sean Gallagher Producer, Webzen

1 0 0.0
Paul,

The market decides quality.

Posted:9 months ago

#39

Ruud Van De Moosdijk VP of Development, Engine Software

51 58 1.1
Sounds to me Mr. Johnson can only think about the world as a cold place where everything is about money and your only worth is your commercial success, whereas especially the games industry has proven to be about more than that. Going by your standards Paul, games like "WW2 First Person Shooter #74367 Alpha Zero Black Ops II" are "succesful", and a masterpiece like Ico - heralded worldwide as an iconic cult title - is not. I would argue that the creators of such titles were not succesful as business people, but very succesful as a game developer. Guess who in the ends gets the most respect and is being viewed as succesful? Was Rembrandt an unsuccesful painter? He died without a pot to piss in after all, such failure! Yet he is one of the most famous and critically acclaimed painters of all time...I would call that a succes story.

And in regards to being good at marketing being required...well, no. Making something that people are interested in would be the first step, perhaps you should start there. (online) communities are so cynical towards advertisements (they always lie), and big corporations (they will say whatever to get your money without caring) that 99% of the standard marketing talk makes people tired and uninterested. How much marketing did Minecraft do, or Angry Birds? Terraria's creator Andrew Spinks uploaded one (1!) single video to Youtube showing his game, and he was a millionaire in 3 days. Such marketing skills! We need less bullshit, not more.

Posted:9 months ago

#40

Paul Johnson Managing Director / Lead code monkey, Rubicon Development

925 1,569 1.7
I'm only prepared to respond to what I said, not what you read.

But minecraft and angry birds had no marketing assist? I nearly pissed myself.

Posted:9 months ago

#41

Ruud Van De Moosdijk VP of Development, Engine Software

51 58 1.1
It was a question. Since I don't know. I don't recall seeing anything about Minecraft until the game was already big, same with Angry Birds.

Posted:9 months ago

#42
Terraria did have a link from Notch on his twitter site which is a bit more than just a youTube video.

I agree with your sentiment but all games need exposure.

Posted:9 months ago

#43

Paul Johnson Managing Director / Lead code monkey, Rubicon Development

925 1,569 1.7
Well, in that case the answer is tons.

I wasn't going to respond to this, but I can't leave it
Making something that people are interested in would be the first step, perhaps you should start there
Hubris notwithstanding, every game we've released has an excellent metacritic and there's a bafta nomination hanging on the wall. Our average user rating is 4.5+. The reason I'm not wealthy is because I don't know how to reach a wider audience, I don't need pointers on where to start coding, thanks - that happened 30 years ago.

It's all about getting exposure. And when you get some and throw it back in peoples faces, don't expect everyone to say thanks. Cold world or not.

Posted:9 months ago

#44

Craig Page Programmer

386 220 0.6
I guess if Apple can patent some rounded corners, then Nintendo can copyright some pipes and a color palette.

Posted:9 months ago

#45

Curtis McCoy Associate Software Engineer, Nintendo of America

1 0 0.0
To answer your question, Minecraft was featured on Penny Arcade, the largest gaming webcomic, for two days and had a "free to try" weekend immediately after where its popularity skyrocketed. Terraria, as mentioned by John, had a huge plug from Notch, who by then was one of the most influential indie devs in the world. It was also featured on the Steam front page early on if I'm not mistaken. Both of those games were an excellent balance of game quality and marketing (regardless of how planned, if at all, the marketing actually was). I don't follow mobile gaming very closely, and the app store is a completely different marketplace, so I can't really say for Angry Birds.

Posted:9 months ago

#46

Ruud Van De Moosdijk VP of Development, Engine Software

51 58 1.1
Thanks for the answers, I did recall the Notch plug early in Terraria's life. My point was more that Re-Logic, just like Mojang did not actually "do" any marketing, it was largely done for them because it went viral. Of course every game needs exposure to be commercially succesful, and apparently (from another article) Mr. Nguyen didn't mind getting rich and famous, he did mind the abuse of some of his players and the addictiveness of his product which went way beyond what he had intended or sees as morally justified.

@Paul, the part you quoted was not intended to degrade the products you have worked on or Rubicon has published, my apologies if that was the way it came out. I am a fan of Great Big War Game myself. Let me rephrase my sentiment: I often have the feeling that people who complain about their lack of success due to marketing, didn't make a great game to begin with, and that is where the problem lies, not the marketing". Again, I was not saying that is you, your company or your neighbours...I just see it happen all the time. In my eyes, exposure does not equal marketing, or vice versa.

Posted:9 months ago

#47

Paul Johnson Managing Director / Lead code monkey, Rubicon Development

925 1,569 1.7
I often have the feeling that people who complain about their lack of success due to marketing, didn't make a great game to begin with, and that is where the problem lies, not the marketing
No worries, I have a thick skin in any case - you need it when you're as abrupt as I can be at times. :)

But you're right, there's an awful lot of crap out there too. But that just makes it harder for people with decent products to find an audience. And when a poor product gets a massive audience, well I expect to see a little more grace and appreciation tbh. But I'm going round in circles now. Minority of one error.

Posted:9 months ago

#48

Christophe Danguien games developer

70 83 1.2
As I said on another article about this guy :

I think gi.biz did a bad job here. The real complete story is :

His game was released in June last year (or may), it didn't work at all, was in the bottom death of app store, then suddenly, out of nowhere, his app reached the top chart in October.
More over, his app rips off graphics from Nintendo (come on the pipes !), and properly rip-off a game that was made by a french artist with the exact same mechanics.

So he is suspected of creating bots to get his game at the top of the charts, and he is clearly lying when said he didn't know about the game he completely ripped off. It's like if he said Oh I didn't know the pipes are EXACTLY the ones in mario...

From all this, I'd say he removed the app to avoid legal actions against him, no more, no less.

I could be wrong, of course, but that seems a bit too coincidental...

Posted:9 months ago

#49

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