Flip Flappy Bird: Dong Goes Phil Fishing

Flappy Bird is a mobile game that is part skill, part reaction, and every bit full of frustration — and that’s where the addiction comes into play. “… it happened to become an addictive product,” Dong Nguyen, its creator, said in an exclusive interview with Forbes. “I think it has become a problem. To solve that problem, it’s best to take down Flappy Bird. It’s gone forever.”

Let’s forget for a moment that Flappy Bird had grossed its creator nearly $50,000 per day in ad revenue. Let’s look past its all-too-familiar 8-bit style that resembles a certain iconic platformer of the 80s. We must also unhinge from our minds the fact that the creator has pulled the game from all mobile marketplaces at the time of this writing. Unlike his game, when things got too stressful, Dong Nguyen quit.

It isn’t uncommon for indie developers to succumb to growing frustration over the launch of their games. The stress seems to stem in two different scenarios: the game bombed or wasn’t understood, or that it was too successful. Does anyone recall Phil Fish? He launched Fez, an indie title for the Xbox Live Arcade in 2012. It was also featured in the film, Indie Game: The Movie, in which Phil’s very public struggles and meltdowns were open to critics and audiences alike.

Working with a partner to bring a game to fruition can be challenging; in Fish’s case, it was a partner that left the project due to creative differences. Having a project that one has spent years pouring his heart into, only to have the possibility of it never getting off the ground or being released is troubling. Even with the game having reached varying levels of success, Fish separated himself from the critics. I approached him one year at the IndieCade Festival in Culver City, CA, where he declined interviews. Nguyen has faced wild success, but has also been pegged with flack in the form of frustrated users and seems to be traveling down the same road of dismay as Fish.

In my eyes, Flappy Bird walked a fine line from the beginning. It’s a wonder that it wasn’t pulled previously by Apple for its art style. Nintendo could have been nipping at the heels of both parties, even if it was simply for a similarity in assets. Much like any project that fails, however, there is always room for someone else to seize the reins. Many Flappy-esque apps have sprouted in the Apps Marketplace. Splashy Fish and City Bird are just two of the many that will attempt to fill the void left by the bird.

Greg Bargas
A console gamer gone rogue. Collector of retro games, lover of hardware. Part of the Class vs. Crass gaming podcast. Rocket League, anyone?

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