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.