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Nguyen: Flappy Bird became an addictive product

Nguyen: Flappy Bird became an addictive product

Tue 11 Feb 2014 11:49am GMT / 6:49am EST / 3:49am PST
Development

Developer clarifies his reasons for killing game

Developer Dong Nguyen has explained why he decided to pull the incredibly popular app Flappy Birds from mobile stores, citing guilt and people's obsessive reactions to the game.

"Flappy Bird was designed to play in a few minutes when you are relaxed," he told Forbes.

"But it happened to become an addictive product. I think it has become a problem. To solve that problem, it's best to take down Flappy Bird. It's gone forever."

He also confirmed that the app was making "a lot" of revenue from advertising when it was shut down. Presumably the add revenue for the existing games downloaded before the game was pulled will still roll in.

Nguyen, who received death threats over the design of the game, said guilt over the addictive quality of the title had made him lose sleep, and he did not regret his decision.

"I don't think it's a mistake. I have thought it through," he said.

"After the success of Flappy Bird, I feel more confident, and I have freedom to do what I want to do."

Following the withdrawal of the game a number of devices with the game installed have been placed on sale at online auction sites, including a iPhone 4s which has attracted 21 bids and currently stands to sell at 950.00.

29 Comments

Helen Merete Simm
Senior UI Artist

48 250 5.2


Update: And it wasn't. That auction has now disappeared, to be replaced by listings for Diamond encrusted iPhones.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Helen Merete Simm on 11th February 2014 1:29pm

Posted:7 months ago

#1

Steve Wetz
Reviewer/Assistant Editor

213 529 2.5
This is a first - as far as I know, no developer has ever lamented that their game was TOO addictive. Considering the ad-driven (and relatively harmless) monetization and free download, I'm not really sure there was all that much to be guilty about.

Hell, there were people that died playing Everquest.

Posted:7 months ago

#2

Eyal Teler
Programmer

82 79 1.0
Popular Comment
I think it's nice that people have morals and put them before making money.

Posted:7 months ago

#3

Klaus Preisinger
Freelance Writing

1,106 1,088 1.0
Popular Comment
That only leaves the question of who is in lead in the race for the most obvious fast follow up game in the history of this industry?

Rovio with Angry Flapper?
King.com with Candy Flap Saga?
Paul Johnson's Combat Flappers?
Iron Glaxy's Dive Flap?

Posted:7 months ago

#4
I hope he doesn't regret his decision.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by John Owens on 11th February 2014 3:51pm

Posted:7 months ago

#5

Steve Wetz
Reviewer/Assistant Editor

213 529 2.5
@Klaus,

http://www.altpress.com/news/entry/fall_out_boy_announce_flappy_bird_clone_fall_out_bird

It seems that the band Fall Out Boy will be the first to market with their new (but not first!) game, Fall Out Bird. Yes, this is real, and will supposedly be on iOS and Google Play in mere days.

Posted:7 months ago

#6

matthew bennion
Web Development

31 33 1.1
Forbes changes his reason for pulling the game from sale every time he opens his mouth.

Posted:7 months ago

#7

Barrie Tingle
Live Producer

374 148 0.4
To get death threats about the game seems excessive and worrisome. We have seen this kind of attitude towards game developers (I'm sure other media related people get it too) usually for changing something the fan base doesn't like. However, to get a death threat over the design of the game (press and release to go up and down) seems like a new angle.

Posted:7 months ago

#8
Popular Comment
I would love a human behaviorist to study why games like this take off, when there are literally tons of other game just like it that dont. The game play is absolutely nothing new, about as basic as it gets, perhaps its that teamed with the mario look that gave people instant familiarity with this product? To me its interesting. Its like watching a herd of animals, when one flinches or runs most of the time nothing happens, but once in awhile when one flinches, the entire herd goes off in a stampede. Human Fads always remind me of this. The human stampede.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Todd Weidner on 11th February 2014 5:17pm

Posted:7 months ago

#9

Tim Carter
Designer - Writer - Producer

564 311 0.6
This developer has emotional problems.

He must be control freak who doesn't know how to delegate.

Having a super popular game is a "problem" you want to have. He needs to learn how to hire people and delegate work. Including PR people.

Posted:7 months ago

#10
Popular Comment
Tim, I wouldnt be so harsh, Not everyone knows how to deal with(or wants to deal with) notoriety. It may well of caught him off guard, he had no time to put up boundaries and fences ( PR, assistants etc) and it simply overwhelmed him.

We are taught "wrongly (imho)" here in the western world that the goal of life is suppose to be fame and fortune, and to be honest, both can be a curse rather than a blessing.

If the guy had a nice quiet life and was enjoying it, I fully understand why he wouldnt want it turned upside down.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Todd Weidner on 11th February 2014 7:24pm

Posted:7 months ago

#11

Paul Johnson
Managing Director / Lead code monkey

855 1,112 1.3
Paul Johnson's Combat Flappers?
Thanks for the shout out, lol.

(And I can't say I wasn't tempted. Bigger games aren't worth the risk anymore.)

Posted:7 months ago

#12

Rick Lopez
Illustrator, Graphic Designer

1,269 942 0.7
I would like to place a comment but then id repeat most of the stuff Todd Weidner said...

We are taught "wrongly (imho)" here in the western world that the goal of life is suppose to be fame and fortune, and to be honest, both can be a curse rather than a blessing.

If the guy had a nice quiet life and was enjoying it, I fully understand why he wouldnt want it turned upside down.

Posted:7 months ago

#13

Antony Champane
Artist

2 0 0.0
I had an interesting reading about what *could* be a reason for this self shooting in the foot...
Or how too much success brings attention... and too much attention brings problems.

Maybe... and it's just a maybe... Mr Nguyen wanted to get rid of this hot cake before his hands got burnt.
http://www.bluecloudsolutions.com/blog/flappy-birds-smoke-mirrors-scamming-app-store/

Or maybe he is just someone who wishes anonymity and lower incomes, that's also possible =D

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Antony Champane on 11th February 2014 9:09pm

Posted:7 months ago

#14

Mark Jessup
Creative Director

4 9 2.3
I totally agree, Todd. It's absolutely crazy. And anytime a game takes off like this, analysts rush to reverse-engineer its success and provide authoritative treatises on why *this* game took off, as opposed to all of the ones exactly like it. Most of the time, there's no discernible, substantive difference. People are playing it just because people are playing it.

Without bitterness, but maybe a twinge of envy (maybe more than a twinge) I believe a lot of times it really does come down to the human stampede. Great term.

Posted:7 months ago

#15

Shane Sweeney
Academic

366 292 0.8
It's good to be reminded that a game can be prolifically successful on mobile with just fun game play without needing to shoe horn every type of gamification count down clock in it as a desperate attempt to maintain players.

Posted:7 months ago

#16

Julian Cram
Project Manager

49 27 0.6
Popular Comment
However, to get a death threat over the design of the game (press and release to go up and down) seems like a new angle.
This is not new at all. When I was working for Ratbag Games 10 years ago as QA / email answerer, we'd get death threats about the design of our Dirt Track Racing games.

I realised people are really, really, really passionate about going around in circles.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Julian Cram on 12th February 2014 5:00am

Posted:7 months ago

#17

Claas Grimm
Business Development Executive

3 3 1.0
Anyone with more than 10 Twitter followers or 5 YouTube comments gets death threats.

Posted:7 months ago

#18

Alfonso Sexto
Lead Tester

814 644 0.8
@Class
I have around 20 youtube followers, and already got two threats last year ^^;

But to the topic... yes. If those are his reasons it deserves respect indeed.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Alfonso Sexto on 12th February 2014 10:10am

Posted:7 months ago

#19
Maybe... and it's just a maybe... Mr Nguyen wanted to get rid of this hot cake before his hands got burnt.
http://www.bluecloudsolutions.com/blog/flappy-birds-smoke-mirrors-scamming-app-store/


Interesting, that would explain why he pulled the game offline, I could imagine to dodge a lawsuit from Apple for example.

Posted:7 months ago

#20

Sandy Lobban
Founder and Creative Director

314 206 0.7
we should have a sweepstake on what company will be first to attempt to get a trademark on the word flappy.

Posted:7 months ago

#21

Eyal Teler
Programmer

82 79 1.0
@Kim Soares, I agree with many comments on that article, it's baseless speculation (in particular the person who says he and several of his friends posted such reviews). I think that http://venturebeat.com/2014/02/11/how-in-app-review-mechanics-pushed-flappy-bird-to-the-top-of-the-charts/ and http://zachwill.com/flappy-bird/ and more relevant.

It's possible that Dong Nguyen did some underhanded promotion at some point, and it's possible he is feeling guilty about that. But I think that he had no idea it would become such a phenomenon.

Posted:7 months ago

#22

James Boulton
Tools & Tech Coder

133 171 1.3
That automated bot stuff talked about is no different than paying a "marketing" company to artificially up your rankings in the charts for F2P stuff. It's done all the time, by everyone who can afford it. Will it makes you app successful? No. Will it raise awareness? Yes. So sadly regardless of how it got its initial rankings, people actually seem to want to play it. That last bit is a mystery to me, and is also why I am not stupendously rich.

Posted:7 months ago

#23

Craig Page
Programmer

382 218 0.6
I think people would be drawn to it at first because the name Flappy Bird sounds obscene. So they would have to investigate. I know that's the only reason I read the original story here.

But after that, a few things should keep them playing. Pursuing a higher score, or more importantly... The game looks fun! It's simple enough to just pick up and play, and the controls look like you just tap the screen, perfect for a phone.

Posted:7 months ago

#24

Wesley Williams
Quality Assurance

133 72 0.5
It seems utterly bizarre to me that someone would remove their game from a marketplace because people aren't reacting to it the way they had hoped they would, but that's because I obviously look at things from a different viewpoint to Dong. Maybe this is the perfect example of games as art if his reasons are legit (and we really have no reason to doubt they are). We've seen examples in the music industry of artists pulling singles off the shelves because they're over-played, so perhaps this is just gaming's version of that.

Now had this been my game, I'd have continued to let the money roll in and taken a long holiday while the internet collapsed in upon itself in my absence, but then I probably don't have Dong's artistic integrity.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Wesley Williams on 12th February 2014 7:41pm

Posted:7 months ago

#25

Shane Sweeney
Academic

366 292 0.8
In sequential media; film, television, literature, music etc profit can absolutely justify all content decisions. Video games are the most powerful medium however and with that will eventually come some responsibilities.

We are long past the point where normal business can use profit to justify all business decisions and we have a growing (usually regulated) culture of sustainable development.

Eventually if gamification gets as bad as it can, I imagine we will have a term called something like "sustainable (game) development" where profit will no longer be a shield to justify absolutely all game design choices.

Games are crazily powerful and we won't be able to design games blind to there impact forever. While I don't agree that Flappy Birds is in anyway bad, I just am happy some developers are voluntarily taking on some of this responsibility themselves.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Shane Sweeney on 13th February 2014 3:13am

Posted:7 months ago

#26

Christophe Danguien
games developer

69 83 1.2
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:7 months ago

#27

Greg Wilcox
Creator, Destroy All Fanboys!

2,178 1,127 0.5
Hmmm. Adding to some speculation here: Also, I'm gathering 50K a day or whatever shot him into a tax bracket he wasn't expecting. I'm sure here in the US if you make a "legal" product that generates that kind of income from nothing, the tam man cometh and cometh with a big-ass empty bag to claim what they're owed.

That and he was probably going to get some legal poking around at him from a few fronts. And nope, the stupid death threats from jerks didn't help either.

Posted:7 months ago

#28

Christophe Danguien
games developer

69 83 1.2
@Greg, agree that beyond his most likely cheating ways, death threats are completely out of proportion...but guess that can't be helped unless the guys are prosecuted

Posted:7 months ago

#29

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