When Dong Nguyen uploaded Flappy Birds, the free-to-play mobile game in which players guide their pixelated avian avatar through an endless obstacle course of Super Mario-esque pipes, to the App Store last May, he had no idea it would go viral. But go viral it did, rocketing to the top of the charts and raking in $50 thousand dollars daily in in-app advertising.
Right up until he pulled it, tweeting “I cannot take this anymore.” Looking to expound upon what “this” entailed, Forbes interviewed the Vietnamese game developer, and the experience was as apparently baffling as the game’s sudden success.
The circumstances surrounding the interview, conducted in Vietnamese, were as much of a soap opera as his public ruminations about whether to take down the app. The interview with Forbes took place in a hotel in Hanoi, with a strict condition that Forbes not reveal Nguyen’s face. It was delayed several hours, in part because Nguyen had a sudden meeting with Vietnam’s deputy prime minister Vu Duc Dam – a remarkable turn of events for someone unknown a week ago.
In his first interview since it was pulled from both Apple’s App Store and Google’s Android Play Store, Nguyen told Forbes that Flappy Birds had “become an addictive product” and that it was now “gone forever.” While I don’t fell that Nguyen quite understands how the internet works (you can never put the genie back in the bottle, just ask Beyoncé’s beleaguered publicist), I do feel bad for him. He went from getting death threats for making an awful game to getting death threats for pulling an awful game, only now he doesn’t have that $50K-a-day to spend on an ex-Israeli special forces soldier to rock him to sleep at night.