Why the Flappy Bird developer is taking the game down tomorrow.


Today, Dong Nguyen, the developer of the game Flappy Bird announced he is taking down the app. (Thanks for the heads up Casey Lewis!)

This is a surprising move given that it’s the number one free app in both the iTunes and the Google Play store.

Why is he doing it? He didn’t give much info, but he did say that he’s not selling it and that as far as the success is concerned, “It is something I never want. Please give me peace.” (Read TechCrunch for more details.)

While it’s hard to know exactly what the issue is, there’s no denying the weight of success. I’ve written a hundred times that I’ve seen leaders get wrecked more by success than by failure. According to multiple reports, Nguyen has said that the sudden fame and attention is something he doesn’t want, which makes sense. If you’re a young developer living in Vietnam and suddenly find yourself on top of the app world, that can be overwhelming.

As you chase your dream, promise me you’ll do 2 things:

1. Have a plan for if you succeed, not just for if you fail. Most people don’t have a “survive success plan.”

2. Keep people you trust close to you and people who love fame far away from you.

I hope Nguyen keeps developing apps and doing what he loves. Success can be a great thing too and I hope that’s the kind he and you both find.

About Author

Jon Acuff
Jon Acuff


  1. Sam


  2. It’s so interesting what becomes a trend and what doesn’t. Everyone is using that app!

  3. Guess I better hurry up and download it, huh?

  4. That’s what I fear the most. Being in the shadows is safe; no one sees me fail and no one sees me succeed. God didn’t create me to a nobody. I pray the developer and others (me included) find the delicate balance between the two.

  5. I love a success plan. Allowing yourself to think in that capacity not only ignites hope, but it should carry discernment because you’re thinking clearly, not yet jaded by the success.

  6. JP

    Wise words. I love being in the shadows and often in my conversations with God or myself I think why don’t have this or that or am known and then I realize, at this point I wouldn’t handle it well.

    I also love that he is confident in who he is and the fame is not validating and he can just walk away. Inspiring.

  7. It reminds of what happened to the guy from Invisible Children after the Kony 2012 went bigger than expected. Success can kill you and drive some people crazy, if only for a time. Something to think about for sure.

  8. Wow. So much truth in this. When the indiegogo campaign for Beard Sauce was actually funded and orders on our new site started rolling in, I had a panic attack in bed one night. I must have sounded like a blithering idiot to my husband, but I was sooooo freaked out by the success (granted, it’s a blip in the universe compared to other successes, but nonetheless, it was my success) and not sure if it was something that I actually wanted. Thinking about it now, it’s really not that scary. It was just new, and failure has always been way more comfortable.

    So glad he talked me through it and I haven’t given up yet.

  9. McCartha

    Wow what a great message. Thanks for chiming in on this Jon

  10. Sometimes I wonder what I fear more, success or failure. Failure is easy, it seems. You just dust yourself off and move forward, perhaps in a slightly different direction. But success is so unpredictable in what it may look like that it seems pretty tough to plan for.

  11. Teresa o'Kelley

    So sorry to hear he got something he wasn’t expecting. It’s Definitely reminds me to keep grounded in prayer as God doesn’t give is more than we can handle, so long as He is the focus, not ourselves.

    And that game was frustratingly awesome. Praying he finds the career and recognition he really wants

  12. Kirsten OQuinn

    My kids are devastated!!

  13. tessa

    My 5th grade students will be devastated!

  14. Chris

    So, an update today and down tomorrow? I don’t buy it. If someone is making $50k/day on ad revenue, they’re not just going to stop. Puh-lease.

  15. I wonder if he had legal issues because it looks exactly like Mario Brothers.

  16. Jeff

    How is this not copying Super Mario Bros? It looks exactly like it!?? Reminds me of the crummy music that comes out that these days that everyone buys and it’s just resampled from stuff 30 years ago, OR, poorly done covers. Be original. …and as far as his “success” thing goes? Delete your e-mail address pal – if people are emailing you you can easily shut it off and create a new one and be left alone. This guy has issues

  17. Ian B

    Or it’s because he got a C&D from Nintendo. Or doesn’t like making $50K a day.

    • David A

      There is NO doubt in my mind this is what happened. Success my ass. Nintendo came after him when he came into the spotlight because it was a number one app. Don’t spit in my face and call it rain 🙂

  18. Rossco

    What if it’s your wife that loves the Fame?

  19. Micah

    For some reason, when I hear flappy bird, I start singing, “Flappy Bird, Flappy Flappy Bird” to the tune of Adam Sandler’s “Sloppy Joe” song. That is all I know of Flappy Bird, which is nothing. But I do love me some Adam Sandler “Sloppy Joe.”

  20. I know that the app was addicting to every high school student I knew played it. All they wanted to do was play and said it was a conspiracy to make Americans dumber. But guess what? They continued to play it!!!!

  21. Colby

    Why i mean like everyone at my school plays it realy not joking

  22. Something to think about… he’s still going to make $50,000 a day in ad revenue as he has for the past week or so.

    In the next 24 hours, people are going to rush to download the game before it gets taken off the market. The ads though? They’ll keep being served on the game.

    For the next couple months or however long it takes for the game to go out of style, he will be raking in the dough.

    He might want to live a simple life, but he’s just going to have to do with bringing in boatloads of money.

  23. I love the idea of having a ‘success plan’! Has anyone created one? What would it consist of?

  24. These are two great points Jon, since becoming supported by my dream, I think I’ve been operating in survival mode! I wouldn’t recommend it.

  25. Matt

    When you said, make a success plan, I thought, “How in the world do I do that?” How do you anticipate the issues involved with success? I would love some insight on this.

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  27. The Flappy Bird phenomenon was pretty much a total mistake. Nguyen was probably shocked by the overnight success of the thing because it’s a really dumb game, and he knows it. He can’t deal with the success because for someone who knows games (which I presume he does), there’s no way this game SHOULD have become popular. There is one interaction you have with your environment (making the bird go up and down), there is one level that lasts forever, and there are only like, three pieces of art, and they’re from Super Mario Brothers. The green pipes are from SMB, the font is SMB… only the Flappy Bird itself is new.
    See? –> http://memoriesoftommy.files.wordpress.com/2013/02/super_mario_brothers.jpg

    Honestly, Nguyen is probably embarrassed about Flappy Bird’s popularity. It would be like if you, Jon, wrote a Twilight spin-off fanfiction as a total joke to play with some new ways of handling certain writing techniques, and somehow 50,000 people in one night made that go viral and ignored all your bestsellers (i.e. they didn’t become best-sellers, and your fanfic did, and then got a movie deal).

    All opinions expressed are a result of me being married to someone who works in the games industry in production and development and who has a masters in Entertainment Technology (who knew that existed, right?).

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