The infamously difficult mobile game Flappy Bird–which centers around a beady-eyed bird clumsily fluttering its way through an endless path of pipes–has been removed from the iTunes store following an intense spike in popularity. But why pull it when it was raking in $50,000 per day? Amid conspiracy theories of fabricated purchases and downloads, and legal issues regarding plagiarism of Super Mario aesthetics, creator Dong Nguyen has confirmed he was the one responsible for the game’s removal. He claims he now hates the game and he “cannot take this anymore.”
According to Nguyen, Flappy Bird was designed only as a brief time-waster. However, the game’s dual achievement of being easy to learn, but hard to play achieved exactly the opposite. The insane challenge inspired not just an abnormal spike in sales, months after its release, but also a widespread addiction, with endless anecdotes of friends and family competing with each other to nab the highest score. Both its sudden popularity and media’s continuous coverage on Flappy Bird was a massive shock to Nguyen, who went on to state how the game ruined his simple, unknown life.
In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, he mentioned how he is often recognized and pestered daily when out in the street, and has consequently made deliberate attempts to disassociate himself from the Internet, citing the massive attention as “extremely uncomfortable”.
While the sudden increase in publicity is unusual, many are speculating that it may have led to a very clever marketing ploy. Proponents of this theory call attention to what happened after the announcement that Nguyen would pull the game: not only did downloads of Flappy Bird skyrocket within a nearly day-long period, but it also created wide interest in several of his other titles, of which still rank highly in charts. Ads for the game are also still present within the smartphone marketplace, continuely generating money.
Gamers of Eastern University have conflicting views on the matter. Josiah Peffer states “it could be a marketing ploy, but there’s no doubt the guy probably received tens of thousands of hate mail for how difficult the game is. Anyone would get fed up with that.” Regardless of Nguyen’s intentions, the sudden rise and fall of Flappy Bird proves the new market venture of mobile games is an ever-fertile frontier that is rapidly expanding, even at the cost of one’s sanity.
Sources: The Wall Street Journal, International Business Times, Forbes.com