Flappy Bird Creator Says He Pulled Game Because It Was ‘Addictive’

Flappy Bird Creator Says He Pulled Game Because It Was ‘Addictive’

Dong Nguyen, creator of the sensationally popular and excruciatingly difficult mobile game Flappy Bird, removed his game from Apple and Android marketplaces this weekend because he was distressed that people were becoming addicted to it, he told a reporter in his native Vietnam this week.

“Flappy Bird was designed to play in a few minutes when you are relaxed,” he said to the Forbes reporter in an exclusive interview with the 29-year-0ld game maker. “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.”

There have been numerous theories as to why Nguyen pulled his game, including a debunked rumour of threats from Nintendo over similar art as well as criticism of Nguyen for his game that came from angry gamers and even some outlets, including Kotaku.

It’s true, as we chronicled yesterday, that Nguyen received some furious feedback on his Twitter feed since January as the 2013-released Flappy Bird began to boom in popularity.

But a read through of Nguyen’s Twitter feed also made it clear that he had become increasingly concerned with how fervently people were playing his game. Here’s an excerpt from our report:

Near the end of last month, someone wrote the following to Nguyen on Twitter: “i have been flappy bird for 3 hours straight its the most addicting thing ever”

He answered as follows: “That is too much. Please give yourself and the game a break :D”

This type of response became a recurring element of his discourse over the last couple of weeks as he began to encourage players to stop playing — even if just temporarily — the game he’d made and been so proud of.

“Have a good night,” he told one obsessed player, “Give my games a break too.”

“You should take a break,” he said to another.

One gamer said they were going to cry because of this game. “Girl, actually it was made to make you laugh,” he answered.

It appears that those reactions are the ones that most affected Nguyen’s choice to keep the game going, a detail that only makes the Flappy Bird saga more intriguing. It doesn’t make the harassment of game developers less of an issue, but to see a developer cite over-use of their game as a reason to remove access to the game from any future customers seems unprecedented.

Nguyen also noted that the success of the game had also kept him from sleeping, saying “my life has not been as comfortable as I was before.” He nevertheless said he’s been emboldened by the game’s success and is moving ahead making other games.

He said he is confident that he will not bring Flappy Bird back. He will, however, keep his other two released mobile games, Super Ball Juggling and Shuriken Block, available, because he hasn’t seen gamers get addicted to them. If they do, he said he’d pull them, too.

The Forbes story does not address similarities often cited by Kotaku commenters and others about similarities between Flappy Bird and other games, including the French game Piou Piou, but Nguyen has previously denied even being aware of that game. Some game makers and critics have passionately defended Flappy Bird as a surprisingly well-made iterative work in a decades-old genre — a fair creation, in their book, regardless of similarities.

The abundance of Flappy Bird clones now flooding iTunes and the Android marketplace will give gamers the unusual opportunity to compare Flappy Bird and its cousins, determining just what made Flappy Bird so special and will determine just how irreplaceable it is.


  • For someone who doesn’t want media attention, he’s doing a great job of getting it (and keeping it).

    I suspect this will be one of the best marketing campaigns ever executed. We all know that scarcity can drive up desire for a product (along with the price), it’s really going full on here. All the stories about this has given this app, that doesn’t even exist any more, more attention than he could ever dream of. Give it a few days, it’ll be back, and it’ll get millions of downloads straight away.

    • I don’t think you’ll see it again. Every time something like this happens in the gaming or film world, people are quick to say “it’s all a publicity stunt”, but I think that’s giving too much credit. People are more damaged and affected by things on the internet than we think. I believe he pulled it for the reasons he said, and good on him for doing so.

  • So he made a game but didn’t want anyone to play it? He should’ve done what the guy did on a Kotaku article a month or two back and installed the only copy on a laptop and break the usb ports and modem

    • an interesting idea provided you are careful… wouldn’t want to suddenly realise that the game didn’t actually copy to the usb and that you just wrecked a perfectly good computer :p

  • If a game should be pulled for being so addictive, then why is Dark Souls 2 coming out next month?

  • As much as I respect the guy for enduring the backlash of the internet and sticking to his principles, there’s something that just doesn’t quite sit right with me about his actions. It might just be a translation issue, or a cultural difference. Still, it seems odd that you would create a game for people to enjoy and then take it down because there were some people having too much fun with it. It’s a bit of a scary thought if this became a common thing; “You’re playing my game the wrong way, so no one can play it any more.”

    The sad thing is, if he’s really being genuine, it sounds like he’ll probably never make a game again for fear of the internet’s reprisal. As sad as it is though, his reaction has been way better than anything Phil Fish ever said.

  • Removing the game was an excessive reaction. I think there are more creative solutions to the issue. For example, update the game so the bird starts to get tired after an hour or so, and needs some rest before it can fly once more.

  • There is something wierd abot this whole situation. Also he said he still making games, so what if he releases a new game and it explodes like flappy bird, will he remove that game? Something smells fishy about this whole situation.

  • Of all the reasons that people have speculated about over the last few days I don’t think anyone saw this coming. It’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.

    “oh no, my game is too successful. I better remove it.” Coz that’s exactly how World of Warcraft or Candy Crush operates…..

    Not to mention that the developer’s other games are still successful. I read somewhere they were #6 and #18 on the Play Store. I can’t get my head around how stupid this whole situation is. Good on him for having some values but seriously, if you don’t want people to play your games then don’t make games ffs.

  • “gone forever”
    So how many companies are working on their “exactly the same mechanics” Flappy Bird clones, right as we speak?

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