Addictive and irritating in equal measure, Flappy Bird has proved to be a surprise hit in the competitive mobile phone game market, attracting more than 50 million downloads and hooking users into a time-consuming challenge now renowned for its difficulty.
But its creator has said that he plans to take the game offline, using a choice of words that sounded more like one of its exasperated players than its maker: "I cannot take this anymore."
In a series of tweets, Vietnam based Dong Nguyen told fans of the game: “I am sorry ‘Flappy Bird’ users, 22 hours from now, I will take ‘Flappy Bird’ down. I cannot take this anymore. It is not anything related to legal issues. I just cannot keep it anymore. I also don’t sell ‘Flappy Bird’, please don’t ask. And I still make games.” The timing of his messages would map out an apparent deadline of early on Sunday evening.
He has previously suggested that his life had become overrun by the success of the game, which has achieved a global following despite its basic graphics – often likened to the old Mario Nintendo games – and simple premise of flying a bird past a sequence of pipe obstacles. The revenue from advertising in the game, which is free to download for iOS and Android users, has been estimated at close to £30,000 a day.
Flappy Bird was released last May and did not initially make a huge dent in the download charts. But it became known for its difficulty – a challenge which smartphone users found irresistible – and the number of players began to rocket.
With its booming popularity, however, Nguyen began receiving abusive messages from users who had become haunted by its trickiness. In one of the game’s more light-hearted reviews, he was called an ‘evil genius’ for devising such a devilish game. Other messages were sent with an angrier tone as players became increasingly frustrated.
Meanwhile, on the Apple’s app store, reviewers outlined that frustration. “It is a highly addictive game, I would recommend it for people who like retro and arcade games,” one warned. “But beware you'll lose sleep, lose friends and destroy your life :) I've cut down on how long I play it, so now I get 8 hours sleep instead of 3.”
In a previous tweet, Nguyen said: “I can call ‘Flappy Bird’ is a success of mine. But it also ruins my simple life. So now I hate it.”