'Flappy Bird' Was an Internet Sensation Before It Was Removed by Its Own Creator

In interviews, the developer revealed that he was negatively impacted by people's growing addictions to the game.

Callie (Carlos) Cadorniga - Author

Mar. 14 2024, Published 12:44 p.m. ET

'Flappy Bird' start screen
Source: Getty Images

Every so often, a new mobile game takes casual gamers by storm. We've been through eras conquered by Bejeweled, Candy Crush, Angry Birds, Fruit Ninja, Temple Run, and Wordle, just to name a few. And who could blame people for hopping on these? For all intents and purposes, they're easy to download, easy to play, and hard to put down. They're perfect for quick commutes, boring bathroom breaks, and procrastinating on work. Flappy Bird was easily among one of the greats when it was released.

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This mobile game, developed by Vietnamese game designer Dong Nguyen, was released in May 2013. After receiving exposure from YouTubers like PewDiePie, the game received a massive influx of new players and eventually topped sales charts for multiple app stores. During its release, the game was reportedly raking in over $50,000 a day in in-game advertising. Success like that is rare enough on its own, which is why it came as a shock for many when the game was deleted.

What happened to Flappy Bird?

'Flappy Bird' gameplay
Source: Getty Images
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'Flappy Bird' was deleted by its own creator after the game proved to be too addicting.

Flappy Bird was a mobile game in which players controlled a tiny bird named Faby. As Faby moves to the right, players had to tap the screen to get Faby to hop and navigate through gaps in oncoming pipes while remaining in the air, with points accumulating for each pipe successfully passed. If Faby collides with a pipe or touches the ground at any point, it results in a Game Over and players' scores are reset. However, players could received medals based on how many pipes they cleared.

The game was simple enough on its own, but it was engaging enough for everyone for people to get hooked on, leading to its aforementioned success. However, it was that addictive nature of the game that eventually led to its removal.

On Feb. 8, 2014, Dong Nguyen announced on Twitter that he would remove Flappy Bird from app stores.

His statement reads, "I am sorry, Flappy Bird users. 22 hours from now, I will take Flappy Bird down. I cannot take this anymore." True to his word, the game was removed the following day.

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In subsequent interviews, Dong revealed that he was negatively impacted by people's growing addictions to the game. Speaking to Daily Mail in 2023, Dong stated that he was confronted by fans and concerned parents on the addictive nature of the game. He even reportedly received several DMs claiming that his game was stifling people's productivity. This, coupled with an onslaught of paparazzi for his growing fame at the time, led him to remove the game entirely to restore peace to his own life.

Dong Nguyen, the original creator of 'Flappy Bird' in 2014
Source: Getty Images
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There was some fallout following the game's removal. Shortly after it was deleted, merchants took to eBay to try and sell their smartphones that still had the game downloaded on them. Some bids reached upwards of $90,000. These exchanges were short-lived, however, as selling these phones violated eBay's TOS stating that phones had to be restored to factory settings before being sold, which would delete the game anyway.

As of this writing, Dong Nguyen continues to design indie games. In 2014, he even released a newer version of Flappy Bird with a multiplayer element and toned down the design to be "less addictive."

It's safe to say, however, that he does not look back at the success of the original Flappy Bird fondly.

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