The “Simple” Life, Death and Legacy of “Flappy Bird”
by GamerFitnation on February 13, 2014 at 05:27 PM EDT

By: Brogan Cordova

flappy bird

“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.”

Dong Nguyen, a 29-year-old indie developer, killed his most successful creation over the past weekend. Morally, he believed it was the right thing to do. I agree and, just as importantly, it was also a brilliant marketing move.

For those unfamiliar, Flappy Bird was a free game that rose to popularity recently. The player tapped a touchscreen, kept a bird flying through pipes and scored based on pipes passed. The pipes were accused of being ripped off the Mario franchise, though both Nguyen and Nintendo have denied any legal struggle. The game received criticism over aspects ranging from its simplicity to jealousy over its success.

On Twitter, Nguyen claimed the success of Flappy Bird ruined his “simple life” and gave a 22-hour notice before pulling the game from all online marketplaces. Phones with the game installed were auctioned off for thousands of dollars, copycats and clones of Flappy Bird were created to take its place, and the controversial pulling generated more criticism and headlines.

Forbes then interviewed Nguyen, where he revealed he pulled the game after he realized it was becoming an addiction for people. He said he felt guilty and couldn’t sleep, and after the pull he felt relieved. He’ll continue to develop games, his other past games will stay up until he believes they’re addicting people, and he won’t take legal action against the copycats.

“After the success of Flappy Bird, I feel more confident and I have freedom to do what I want to do,” he said.

Indeed he does. He’s proven to himself he can be successful and make money off his craft. And after everything that’s happened, after all the headlines and controversy, the industry is paying attention to the indie dev. It’s unclear if that was what he was planning. Nonetheless, the impact this will have on Nguyen’s career will be immeasurable compared to simply spending some time on top of the app marketplace.

Furthermore, the pulling has reopened the discussion on how developers are connected to their creations potentially addicting players and how they feel about that. It’s a question that needs to be asked and explored by any developer, but the morality of Nguyen’s decision can’t be generalized to the rest of the industry. It’s case-by-case, and each game has a different intention and developer behind it.

Dong Nguyen will continue to make games. He feels at peace with his decision, and that can only be healthy for him. His words are few, and it’s unclear exactly what his beliefs, intentions, and plans are. But now the world is watching him and what he does, and many other indie developers would kill for that boundless opportunity. The man who created and destroyed Flappy Bird can have a very bright future for himself. If he wants it.

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Edited by: Gregory M Laporte

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