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.

  • Sam
    Posted at 14:41h, 08 February Reply


  • David Mike
    Posted at 14:43h, 08 February Reply

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

  • Matt Hochstetler
    Posted at 14:46h, 08 February Reply

    Guess I better hurry up and download it, huh?

    • Juan
      Posted at 15:54h, 08 February Reply

      It’s a ploy by the developer to get you to download it – I just did. And before this post I had not intention of downloading.

      • Andrea
        Posted at 16:55h, 08 February Reply

        Me too! Why did I do that?

  • Ronei Harden
    Posted at 14:46h, 08 February Reply

    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.

  • Josh
    Posted at 14:47h, 08 February Reply

    Soooooo good Jon!

  • Matt Ham
    Posted at 14:47h, 08 February Reply

    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.

  • JP
    Posted at 14:57h, 08 February Reply

    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.

  • Joseph
    Posted at 15:02h, 08 February Reply

    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.

    • Christa
      Posted at 03:29h, 09 February Reply

      That was my thought as well.

  • Megan Lee Webb
    Posted at 15:03h, 08 February Reply

    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.

  • McCartha
    Posted at 15:03h, 08 February Reply

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

  • Nick
    Posted at 15:22h, 08 February Reply

    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.

    • Nick
      Posted at 15:26h, 08 February Reply

      P. S. Just downloaded the app. In 15 tries I’ve made it through 1 total pipe opening. And that’s why I don’t play video games.

      • Casey
        Posted at 15:36h, 08 February Reply

        I’ve played a few hundred times and only made it through 16 pipers.

        • Nick
          Posted at 16:31h, 08 February Reply

          Ha! Ok good. I’m not alone.

          • David Mike
            Posted at 21:27h, 08 February

            I’ve made it through 2 and my daughter is up to 268!

  • Teresa o'Kelley
    Posted at 15:28h, 08 February Reply

    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

  • Kirsten OQuinn
    Posted at 15:48h, 08 February Reply

    My kids are devastated!!

  • tessa
    Posted at 15:52h, 08 February Reply

    My 5th grade students will be devastated!

  • Chris
    Posted at 15:53h, 08 February Reply

    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.

    • Brent
      Posted at 21:32h, 08 February Reply

      But they do if they get a cease and desist letter from Nintendo. That’s what my money is on.

      • Luis
        Posted at 12:56h, 09 February Reply

        Yep, I think you’re right. That’s the first thing I thought of.

  • Beth
    Posted at 16:03h, 08 February Reply

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

  • Jeff
    Posted at 16:19h, 08 February Reply

    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

  • Ian B
    Posted at 16:22h, 08 February Reply

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

    • David A
      Posted at 17:09h, 08 February Reply

      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 🙂

  • Rossco
    Posted at 16:48h, 08 February Reply

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

  • Micah
    Posted at 16:54h, 08 February Reply

    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.”

  • Teresa
    Posted at 17:34h, 08 February Reply

    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!!!!

  • Colby
    Posted at 19:34h, 08 February Reply

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

  • J.T. Smith
    Posted at 19:42h, 08 February Reply

    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.

  • Bryan
    Posted at 22:22h, 08 February Reply

    Really well put, Jon!

  • jen moff
    Posted at 14:02h, 09 February Reply

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

  • Kimanzi
    Posted at 16:37h, 09 February Reply

    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.

  • Matt
    Posted at 08:09h, 10 February Reply

    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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  • Abigail
    Posted at 18:49h, 24 February Reply

    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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