Plugged In

Flappy Bird creator pulled app because it was addictive

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Dong Nguyen, creator of the massive mobile hit Flappy Bird, says he didn't discontinue sales of the app because of legal threats. And he didn't do it to put an end to the torrent of angry comments he was receiving.

He did it, he says, because the game was too addictive.

“Flappy Bird was designed to play in a few minutes when you are relaxed,” Nguyen told Forbes. “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.”

The developer says he was wracked with guilt as he decided the fate of the game. In the days leading up to it, he tweeted out concerns that people were becoming too obsessed with it.

Amid media allegations he had stolen visual assets from Nintendo’s Mario series, Nguyen was asked by one user if he hated the success of the game. He replied: "Not because of them but because how people use my game. They are overusing it."

About an hour later the same day, when a user praised the game and said "well done on create a game I can be addicted" [sic], he wrote "And now, I am not sure it is good or not."

Nguyen, 29, is apparently taking some of those threats he received seriously. He only agreed to meet with the financial publication on the condition that his face not be revealed and "appeared stressed" during the talk.

His rise to app developer fame not only surprised him, but his parents, who didn't know he'd created the game until the recent media explosion.

While he has been on a self-imposed hiatus from the Internet since pulling the plug, he has no plans to give up game development, saying he feels more confident. And while he realizes his decision to pull the game angered many people, he hasn't had any regrets.

“I don’t think it’s a mistake,” he says. “I have thought it through.”

There are certainly plenty of other developers who are glad Flappy Bird is gone, as its absence opened the floodgates for copycat titles to fill the gap. The leader so far is Ironpants, which Nguyen says he has played and enjoyed. And while he arguably could have a case against the wannabes, he says he has no intention of doing so.

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