Quoted: on grounding the ‘addictive’ Flappy Bird

“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.”

Dong Nguyen, creator of the now-yanked mobile app. Hanoi-based Nguyen, 29, said over the weekend on Twitter that he “couldn’t take it anymore,” that the game had ruined his “simple life.” He told Forbes he was losing sleep over the guilt about the app’s users playing the game — which basically involves keeping a bird in the air despite some difficult obstacles — for hours on end, not the “few minutes” he had intended.

The Verge reported that the game, which Nguyen developed in about three days, was so popular it was raking in about $50,000 a day in ad revenue. Is he really walking away from all that success? Sounds like the developer of other top games in Apple’s App Store has other plans: “I feel more confident, and I have freedom to do what I want to do,” he told Forbes, although he reserves the right to pull those games if they get too addictive, too.

How might he be able to tell when users are too addicted to a game? Well, perhaps if he reads reviews similar to this one: “I would, in a heartbeat, sell my soul to Satan just to have never downloaded this app,” wrote a Flappy Bird reviewer, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Nguyen also denied pulling the game because of a legal threat from Nintendo. Another allegation was that the game, which had been available since May, was suddenly flying high because of fake accounts and reviews.  (The WSJ says Flappy Bird took off after a gamer included it in a list of his favorite games.)

Meanwhile, addicts can still get their fix elsewhere, at least for now. The game reportedly can be played at various online sites.


Photo of Flappy Bird app by Hoang Dinh Nam/AFP/Getty Images


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  • tsupasat

    This guy is awesome. I love that he had the courage to obey his conscience even though it would have been immensely easier (and profitable!) to ignore it. Regardless of whether you think it’s immoral to create silly app games, you have to admire a person who does great work and sticks to their conviction.

    • InconvenientTruthsYouHate

      Yeah, that was nice and menschy of him and all, BUT…

      I would rather “love it” if people would just develop the “courage” and maturity to simply limit their play like big boys and girls, rather than playing until they “ruin” their own lives, complain about it in public, and then leave others (like this kid) feeling guilty for other people’s own lack of control.

      Now NOBODY can enjoy his work. Stupid end to a non-issue.

      Just because some people have addictive personalities and can’t handle (for example) alcohol, it doesn’t follow that alcohol should therefore be banned for everyone. We tried that once already, and it didn’t go so well.

      I’ll have responsibility and freedom of choice, thanks.

      • tsupasat

        Responsibility and freedom of choice … as in the app developer’s social responsibility and freedom of choice to pull the app?

        • InconvenientTruthsYouHate

          “Social responsibility” is a vague term that can mean just about anything, and therefore means nothing. Its use here is a rather large stretch.

          You want to talk about social responsibility? How about people’s responsibility to wear big boy pants and not play games to the exclusion of all else? Their irresponsibility is not the programmer’s fault, nor is it his responsibility to be their nanny when they fail to have self control.