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Flappy Bird flops, game over for popular iPhone, Android app

Screenshot of Flappy Bird

Screenshot of Flappy Bird, which was taken down by creator Dong Nguyen Feb. 8.
Credit: Screenshot of Flappy Bird

Vietnam-based dotGears Studios’ smash-hit mobile game, Flappy Bird, has taken flight, seemingly with no plans to return.

For nearly a month, Flappy Bird has perched at the top of both the Apple and Android app stores, soaring to the position of “No. 1 Free Game” on both online application markets because of its explosive popularity.

Yet following a Tweet from the game’s developer, Dong Nguyen, at 2:02 p.m. from his account @dongatory Saturday, the game was yanked from both the iOS and Android stores, prohibiting all future downloads.

“I am sorry Flappy Bird users, 22 hours from now, I will take Flappy Bird down. I cannot take this anymore,” Nguyen tweeted.

As of Sunday evening, any searches for Flappy Bird in the Apple App Store and Google Play Store resulted in messages stating the application could not be found, or it reveals games that imitate Flappy Bird but are not the original application.

The rationale to remove the game followed a previous Tweet by Nguyen, in which the Flappy Bird developer condemned the game’s increased presence in popular culture.

“Press people are overrating the success of my games. It is something I never want. Please give me peace,” he wrote Tuesday at 12:36 p.m.

According to an interview with Nguyen conducted by The Verge, Flappy Bird was originally launched in May 2013 and developed out of code written by Nguyen after work.

Since then, the game had been downloaded “50 million times, and has accumulated over 47,000 reviews in the App Store,” as reported by The Verge Feb. 5.

The game boasted a simplistic design, featuring a bright yellow bird that navigated through a maze of green pipes of varying heights.

The graphics of Flappy Bird were reminiscent of the “retro pixelated games in (gaming’s) golden age,” according to a description from the dotGears Studios website.

“Everything is pure, extremely hard and incredibly fun to play,” the website says.

Players controlled the bird’s movement by tapping the screen of their mobile phones and tablets. The object of the game was to coax the bird through as many gaps between green pipes as possible. If a player miscalculated the height needed to shoot the gap, the bird would hit the pipes and the game would be over.

The dotGears Studios website shows the logos for four of the developer’s other games, including Shuriken Block and Ninjas Assault.

Flappy Bird is not mentioned on the website.

Many Ohio State students said that although the Flappy Bird game design was simple, it was hard to master.

“It is really addictive because it’s kind of hard to start playing and get used to what you have to do,” said Emily Rodgers, a first-year student in romance studies and anthropology. “Then you just get so aggravated, like you have to make sure you keep going and keep beating your high score and get as high as you possibly can.”

Rodgers said she spends about 15 minutes per day playing the game and her highest score to date is an 87.

Rachel DeLucia, a third-year in criminology, said Sunday she downloaded Flappy Bird about two weeks ago.

“It’s really addicting, it’s a good way to kill time, but then it kind of starts to kill a lot of time,” she said. “You’re always trying to beat your record, but then it gets frustrating, and it’s kind of just like an endless cycle.”

DeLucia said she thinks the developer’s decision to remove the game might be for the better, as the game might be viewed as a distraction.

“I think it’s honest-to-goodness ruining lives,” she said. “It is taking up a lot of my life. I play it in class and things like that, so the developer should probably get rid of the game. I think that’s a good idea.”

According to The Verge, Flappy Bird was earning an average of $50,000 a day, a profit made from in-app ads.

In the wake of Nguyen’s decision to remove the game from the app stores, many theories have surfaced in an attempt to explain the developer’s actions.

“There are a couple different speculations about it,” said Mike Letscher, a first-year in computer science and engineering. “One of them being he just can’t handle the publicity. The other reason that I’ve heard is that it could be kind of a PR stunt for his next game … He decided to take it down in order to use this publicity to make his next game a hit instead.”

Josh Grile-Nielsen, a first-year in finance, agreed that the game’s removal could be an attempt to drum up publicity.

“Personally, I think it is just a big publicity stunt … I mean, this might shine light on his other games,” he said.

Grile-Nielsen said he “only plays (Flappy Bird) a couple times a week,” but the news of the game’s discontinuation was “surprising.”

“This is not heartbreaking for me, I’m not destroyed by it,” he said. “(But) he was making so much money and it’s such a popular game, a bunch of people played it.”

Within minutes of the initial Tweet announcing the imminent retirement of Flappy Bird, rumors began circulating saying the decision to remove the game was because of legal issues.

In response to this speculation, Nguyen tweeted, “It is not anything related to legal issues. I just cannot keep it anymore.”

While Flappy Bird can no longer be found in any app store, the application can still be played by users who downloaded the game before its removal.


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