Why ‘Flappy Bird’ creator Dong Nguyen pulled his game – permanently

“The mysterious developer of the world’s most popular free app, who drew global attention this past weekend with his sudden decision to remove it, tells Forbes that Flappy Bird is dead,” Lan Anh Nguyen reports for Forbes. “Permanently.”

“‘Flappy Bird was designed to play in a few minutes when you are relaxed,’ says Dong Nguyen, in an exclusive interview, his first since he pulled the plug on the app. ‘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,'” Nguyen reports. “”

“In killing Flappy Bird for what he maintains are altruistic reasons, Nguyen is walking away from a jackpot. An article in the Verge last week estimated his daily take from in-app advertising at $50,000,” Nguyen reports. “Nguyen declined to confirm that number. ‘I don’t know the exact figure, but I do know it’s a lot.'”

“In mulling whether to pull Flappy Bird, Nguyen said that it was guilt – atop the fact that ‘my life has not been as comfortable as I was before’ – that motivated him,” Nguyen reports. “‘I couldn’t sleep,’ he said. He added that his conscience is relieved; he spent the past few days, Internet-free, catching up on slumber. ‘I don’t think it’s a mistake,’ he says. ‘I have thought it through.'”

Read more in the full article here.

Related article:
‘Flappy Bird’ creator pulls game from App Store – February 9, 2014


  1. Whatever the reason for pulling (and I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt and accept the altruistic explanation), the fact remains that those who still have the game are likely still playing it, which likely still generates all that in-app ad revenue.

    If there were any legal “cease and desist” approaches (related to some copyright challenges), he is now probably in the clear.

  2. Some people wonder why he is pulling the app. My guess is he is getting a lot of attention from the Communist government in Vietnam who wants to have a piece of that pie. You don’t get any kind of business success unless you have connection to the government there.

    1. There’s that, and another successful solo app developer spoke about his own unexpected experiences going from nothing to a millionaire in a short period of time: legitimate death threats and threats by organized crime to kidnap and ransom (or worse) friends and family. In a team or corporate environment one is shielded a bit from that, but a solo developer, especially one that never planned to suddenly go viral, is much more vulnerable to these things.

  3. … or alternatively, it might just be possible that he’s telling the truth when he says he took down the game because it was spoiling his life.

    Why do people need to invent conspiracies and plots when the explanation doesn’t fit with their values ?

  4. Sounds like he bought into the idea that video games are real addictions, which they are not. I have yet to read of a case where a person suffered delirium tremors or withdrawal symptoms because their xbox or PS3 broke down. In the USA, anything you actually enjoy doing is called an “addiction” because the Puritans in our society are still here trying to shame everyone who dares to have a good time.

    1. Seriously? You haven’t seen the multitude of news stories of gaming addiction and people actually dying from spending days on end awake playing online games – dropping dead from the stress they put on their bodies?
      I suppose you don’t think gambling addiction is real either.

      1. Sorry, Stuart. Those hyperbolic YouTube videos you must have been referring to do not count as science. Supply links to a peer-reviewed scientific study that is also corroborated by another independent study and I’ll consider video games to be addictive. Until there is actual empirical evidence to show, all you’ve got to go on is opinion and anecdotal evidence (which is worthless).

    2. I agree that the puritans and killjoys are highly annoying. Some of them delight in wielding the “addiction” paint brush with a zeal that suggests they themselves are addicted: — to acting the moralising arbiter of everyone else’s life. How sweet to play the judge, to wag the finger!

      Real clinical addiction has been associated with many different types of behaviour. There may or may not be physiological dependence resulting in withdrawal. What judgmentalists tend to ignore is this: because a person iterates a certain behaviour to the point of self-harm does not mean it’s sick and should be banned. It means he or she is sick and should be helped.

      This guy had it bad but managed to pull back from the abyss and detoxify.


      1. Sorry, but a NYT article is not scientific evidence, and compulsive behavior does not meet the scientific definition of “addiction”. In fact, people with obsessive/compulsive disorders can be treated with drugs that will make their compulsions vanish, which would not be true if they were physically addicted to something. I’m just saying call it what it is, not what pop-culture has boneheaded decided they think it is.

        1. We agree — videogames are NOT intrinsically addictive any more than shopping, eating, gambling, collecting, running, or any other activity. Behaviour disorders that are associated with them are neurological states of individual persons and NOT a property of the objects or activities themselves. Labels such as “addictive” do more harm than good by muddying the water.

  5. Dong is lying.
    He was caught steeling from others like Nintendo and Sony and created this story to generate publicity for his other games while explaining why he removed Flappy Bird.

    The press bought it hook line and sinker.

  6. Hey Dong, if you don’t want that $50,000 per day in advertising from your game, why don’t you give it to me? You’re too comfortable with your old life that you don’t want to learn how to adapt to the new one? Then let someone else have your game. Then you can have your old life and watch someone else enjoy your new life.

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