Robert Dominic Ventre II
Staff WriterDong Nguyen, creator of the app-based mobile game Flappy Bird which was published by .GEARS Studios, has chosen to remove his product from both Apple's App Store as well as Google Play. The decision was sudden and perplexing, as it is has been reported that Nguyen was making over $50,000 per day from revenue through in-game advertisements. On February 8th, 2014, he announced Flappy Bird's discontinuation over Twitter, stating: "I am sorry Flappy Bird users, 22 hours from now, I will take Flappy Bird down. I cannot take this anymore." Critical reception of the game was varied with some critics complaining of its difficulty, repetitiveness and lack of original art, but it would be hard to argue against Flappy Bird's results: by January 2014, Flappy Bird had topped the Free Apps chart in the US and Chinese App Stores, soon topping the same section of the UK App Store later that same month, despite having no marketing whatsoever. So why would Nguyen choose to remove it? Apparently the game was just a little TOO addictive. In a recent interview with Forbes, Nguyen explained his decision, saying: “Flappy Bird was designed to play in a few minutes when you are relaxed. 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 Vietnam-based developer went on to say that he lost sleep after the game went viral and wished to return to a more peaceful life. He also stated that if any of his future games became equally as addictive as Flappy Birds, they would be removed as well Carter Thomas, an online marketer and developer, suspected foul play in the app's sudden meteoric rise to popularity. In an article posted on Bluecloud Solutions, a website dedicated to iPhone app marketing, Thomas described the practice of using bots (fake accounts artificially created and run by computers that produce desired ranks, reviews and downloads). “Looking at some of the top apps in the store by Dong Nguyen, I hate to say it, but it looks really similar to bot activity. Of course, I can’t prove this and there are strong cases for lots of different potential growth strategies, but I do want to bring this up to engage a discussion and get industry leaders to weigh in with some analysis so that we can find out how this happened.” In the same article, Thomas provides examples of user reviews, describing the somewhat unusual nature of their content: “Here’s another nice little tidbit. Read through the reviews. Check the word count. Do an analysis on how many times the word “glitch” “pipe” “addicting” are used relative to the review length. Also check how many negative reviews give 5 stars.” When faced with this evidence of his supposedly-ill-gotten reviews, Nguyen commented: "I respect all other people's opinions. I won't give any comment to this article. I'd like to make my games in peace." We may never know the whole truth, but Flappy Bird lovers (and hopeless addicts) may take heart in knowing that the game's removal has prompted many fan-made parodies and remakes. Here's hoping a new game will rise from the ashes of Flappy Bird that will give app-based gamers their much-needed fix.
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