It was a simple mobile app game, ostensibly, that wrought ruin in what had been the simple life of its developer, Hanoi-based Nguyen Ha Dong. The anomalous success of the game – which flew up the rankings of the most popular downloaded games – brought an estimated $20,000 to $50,000 daily pay check in advertising. Over the weekend, Dong removed the app from the online stores of Apple and Google.
Dong had been a programmer for 10 years. On Twitter, he said, the game “ruins my simple life.” He also apologized to fans of the game in the message emitted 22 hours before shooting the bird down. Dong has 120,000 followers on Twitter. “I cannot take this anymore,” he said.
The massive popularity of the simple game, in which players try to navigate a minimalist yellow bird through gaps in pipes, came with a storm of controversy. The game was deceptively simple in design. Enraged players sent Dong threats through social media in frustration over the game’s actual difficulty. Accusations of foul play followed, attributing the game’s success to bot farms.
Social media is what drove the game to global success. Players developed a love/hate relationship with the game they couldn´t stop playing. Flappy Bird was the number one download in 137 countries in Apple iOS and the top free Google Play download in 33 countries, according to App Annie Ltd., an analytics service.
Pocket Gamer contributor Keith Andrew said: “As I sit here writing, I’m cradling my head in one of my hands as I come to terms with the fact that, despite repeated attempts, I can’t beat my top score on Flappy Bird.” Reports are now surfacing that people are selling smartphones with Flappy Bird installed with starting prices of $650 rising to almost $100,000 within a day’s worth of bidding.
Esther Nguyen of the music website Pops Worldwide, based in Ho Chi Minh City, said that Dong’s success is generating more interest in programming in the Vietnamese people. “People will have more confidence: ‘If that guy did it, I can, too,’” she said. Revenue from Vietnam’s digital content industry grew from $690 million in 2009 to $1.2 billion in 2012, according to the Ministry of Information and Communication.