Tue, Feb 11, 2014 - Page 15 News List

‘Flappy Bird’ axed; creator laments it ruined his life

AFP, HANOI

The Vietnamese developer behind the smash-hit free game Flappy Bird has pulled his creation from online stores after announcing that its runaway success had ruined his “simple life.”

Technology experts say the addictive and notoriously difficult game rose from obscurity at its release in May last year to become one of the most downloaded free mobile games on Apple’s App Store and Google’s Play store.

“‘Flappy Bird’ is a success of mine. But it also ruins my simple life. So now I hate it,” creator Nguyen Ha Dong tweeted.

“I am sorry ‘Flappy Bird’ users, 22 hours from now, I will take ‘Flappy Bird’ down. I cannot take this anymore,” he wrote on Saturday from his @dongatory handle — which has seen its follower count grow by tens of thousands in the past few days.

Flappy Bird was not available on the US or UK Apple app stores yesterday.

“It is not anything related to legal issues. I just cannot keep it anymore,” Dong tweeted.

Flappy Bird features 2D retro-style graphics. The aim of the game is to direct a flying bird between oncoming sets of pipes without touching them. Dong has said in interviews that his brainchild was pulling in as much as US$50,000 per day in revenue from online advertising banners.

The free game has been the No. 1 app in Apple’s iOS App Store in more than 100 countries, according to An Minh Do, editor of the Tech in Asia online media company.

Withdrawing the game “may be a PR stunt or may be due to legal pressure or maybe he’s sick of the press. That is not clear yet,” Do said.

Rumors have swirled that Dong took down the game after being pressured by Japan’s Nintendo — Flappy Bird’s simple graphics appear to owe some debt to Nintendo’s early Mario Brothers games.

“All of this is pure rumor. Some say Nintendo, but I don’t believe it. I do know that he [Dong] traveled to Japan during Tet though,” Do said, referring to the just-ended Vietnamese Lunar New Year holidays.

Local online newspaper VNExpress quoted Dong — who also has two other games in the top 10 in online stores — as saying he created the game in a matter of days following “a weird design style.”

Vietnam has a small but thriving software and games development sector and the global publicity surrounding Flappy Bird is likely to help it grow, experts say.

“It is inspiring a lot of young Vietnamese programmers who will now want to follow [Dong’s] way and provide games to the world,” said Bui Thien Canh, the president of the software association of Danang.

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