If you own an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch and have access to an internet connection, you've no doubt heard of Flappy Bird [Free]. I've been playing it on stream every day, and as I mentioned on twitter, the vast majority of my own local area tweets are even boasting about Flappy Bird scores. Like all things on the App Store though, as soon as someone identifies success, everyone with their hat inside of the mobile ring descends on said success like vultures. The past weeks have been filled with people badgering Dong Nguyen for interviews, and having spoken to other indie developers who randomly hit it big, I've heard first hand just how overwhelming unintended success can be.

You go from just being some dude with a video game you made to having your phone ringing off the hook from journalists, ad network sales managers, middleware providers, and everyone in between trying to ride on your coattails. The best way it's been described to me was the running scene from Forrest Gump. If you haven't seen it, all he wanted to do was run, and in the movie he becomes this odd source of inspiration for all these people who wanted something from him in the process.


It seems the same thing is happening to the developer of Flappy Bird and the other two surprise hits Super Ball Juggling [Free] and Shuriken Block [Free]. Curiously, in a recent tweet, seen above, this success is something Nguyen never wanted. All he actually wants now is some peace. It'd be nice to respect his wishes, but in this day and age, having a #1 free app is about the highest rock star status you can get in our industry... But folks often forget there's an actual person behind all this.

Dong Nguyen certainly isn't the first victim of his own entirely unexpected iOS success, and I can almost promise he won't be the last. The App Store is weird like that.

  • paulf58

    I just want to float him a buck for an ad free version to show my appreciation

  • Amenbrother

    Wow didn't see that tweet coming....

  • ODMay

    He don't want the fame.

    • Chris Brady

      Sadly, he's stuck with it. He's got to learn to deal, or he'll buckle under.

  • bhavukjain1

    Every writer is over exaggerating this game from the past one week. Where were you guys when this game was launched an year ago? Never saw a single post coming.

    • http://toucharcade.com Eli Hodapp

      If you read the articles being written, the stories are often surrounding the mysterious popularity. The game itself is hardly noteworthy in comparison.

      • bhavukjain1

        Yes that's what exactly I'm saying. The game somehow gets a rare strange popularity besides it's hardy noteworthy in comparison with the other brilliant games but most of the game journalists are tweeting, showing a lot of love to the game making it extremely ironical. Never saw such liking towards other games.

      • falco

        I hope this guy will accept it and realise the popularity of his game and make some improvement maybe new content ?

      • bhavukjain1

        Check all his games. They're currently #1, #2 and #7 in the top charts. There's something extremely odd going on and Apple need to verify this developer.

      • http://toucharcade.com Eli Hodapp

        There's nothing odd going on, this is what it looks like when the internet latches on to one weird thing and it explodes into a viral hit.

        For more information: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_OBlgSz8sSM

      • bhavukjain1

        Haha. Maybe you're right!

      • falco


      • rewind

        In fact, people have questioned him about it on his twitter page.

        He basically said that it's no advantage to Apple. I highly doubt that Apple makes a significant amount of money off of the advertising, and therefore they have no reason to promote it.

      • 61050

        exactly, welcome to the internet.

      • http://about.me/davidlnguyen David Nguyen

        I'm aware that many app makers and publishers pay their way to top rankings (which is why you see a ton of crappy free and paid apps make it to the top charts out of nowhere) and if this guy made it to the top of the charts through sheer luck, then gratz to him.

      • rewind

        Are you his brother? If so, you should feel lucky that you weren't named Ding.

      • liteking

        Nearly half of Vietnamese have family name "Nguyen"

      • http://about.me/davidlnguyen David Nguyen

        If that was the case, then I'd help him shill his way to make millions, not talk about whether or not his rankings are legit or not!

      • budanski

        knew a guy by the name Phuc Ho. true story bro.

      • Lightning Storm

        Yes, perhaps even maybe having an original idea. The graphics are a blatant rip-off of retro Mario games, and the game itself is based off of the portion of Jetpack Joyride where you got the bird vehicle thing as a power up.

  • Adams Immersive

    The App Store is a strange place indeed!

  • pouffie

    To be honest, I never heard about this game until today. I was curious and I tried it out. Deleted after 5 mins. Seriously? Why so popular?

    • nini

      People like to be a part of things, this one had everyone wanting to find out about this annoyingly frustrating yet addictive game. Basically it went viral and there's often little sense to why things do that.

      • pouffie

        But it's not even fun. You play a bird that needs to avoid some pipes. Nothing else... And the controls are frustrating... I guess only true gamers, like us, know how to appreciate quality stuff. The rest of the world is satisfied with simplistic games...

      • seantyas

        The rest of the world may not even know the GOOD games actually exist! That's the problem with these so-called charts. It shows such a shit cross section. The amount of people I see that only have angry birds, casino IAP games, and all the other shit instead of even knowing things like the full GTAs, the Room 1&2, TWAU, walking dead, xcom, etc, are available...

      • http://toucharcade.com Eli Hodapp

        But if people are having fun playing Flappy Bird, isn't that the very definition of a good game?

      • Arcite

        Flappy Bird isn't so much a 'game' as it is a Pavlovian testing device.

      • rewind

        Thank you

      • Keithustus

        No, it means it's gum: a brief sweet taste, but inconsequential compared to real food.

      • Michal "Hochy" Hochmajer

        Exactly! But how they can say it's good game, if there is no comparison with high quality game for them? After some time, i decided to write "description of business" on paper as it is. Just in very short. Because it was very easy to fall into blaming any group participating in mobile game industry. It was very interesting to see my thoughts on paper. I Can describe relatively well, what is happening. I can also tell, what should be improved for better. But I can't change things in other way, than talk about them and apply these on myself. Industry is doing nothing less than evolving. Hey Eli, debating about business like this here on toucharcade, you are giving enough indepth information for all. Thats crucial!!! Thx toucharcade crew.

      • hvianna

        Thankfully, taste is subjective. I agree that Flappy Bird is dull, but I've had my share of fun with Super Ball Juggling and Shuriken Block

      • Pray For Death

        I was with you until you mentioned "true gamers"

      • nini

        True gamers, really? The only thing I know about true gamers is that they're insufferable snobs to anyone who doesn't play the "worthy" games they like. Gaming could do with less "true" gamers.

      • pouffie

        Ok, I shouldn't have used the adjective "true". But there will always be a clear distinction between "casual gamers" (those who will play time-killing, simple games such as angry birds, plants vs zombies and other similar repetitive games) and "invested gamers" (those who know their way around the different genres and niches, the blockbusters, the indie games, those who want to play a bit more developed games with a scenario, dialogues, etc. - heck, the guys you can rely upon and be the person to ask for game recommendations).

      • Azure

        Then what do you call a person like me, who's casually invested? I enjoy deep games that have a lot of customization and options, but I play them in maybe 1~2 hour sessions before switching for some variety.

        I consider myself a casual gamer who enjoys hardcore experiences. If that sounds contradictory, I guess you learned something new about people.

        Also, the word "true" when used in conjunction with a title implies a person is elitist and thinks of other people who aren't as skilled/knowledge to be inferior in some aspect.

      • Mess

        You wrote what I was going to...

      • pouffie

        It's not contradictory. An invested gamer also knows about casual games but is not limited only to them. Consider the invested gamer as some form of evolved casual gamer.

      • Azure

        You misunderstood my point then. I consider myself casual, but I play a game as seriously as a "truly invested" person. I just do it in shorter sessions, which is why I consider myself casual. However, by generic requirements, I am theoretically an invested gamer.

        So, your last statement is limited in perspective. Casually invested gamers experience the best of both worlds. We don't play in long sessions but we can truly appreciate a game in all it's depths.

      • Keithustus

        Sounds like you have the potential of becoming a true gamer...someday, maybe.

      • _the_escape_artist_

        I think your statement is wrong. "True gamers" would appreciate form the most elaborated to the most simplest of games.
        I think the game is so popular because other people, unlike you, keep it for longer than I've minutes and once you start getting the hang of it you keep telling yourself you can get a better score than the last. And THAT's what makes the game so popular. At least that's my opinion.

      • pouffie

        Getting the highest core is not enough. I need more substance in a game. Heck, I prefer temple run 1000x times more than flappy bird. At least, temple run has funny animations, stressful drums music in the background and traps awaiting you at every corner. What's the popularity of temple run compared to flappy bird?

      • Azure

        Getting the highest score implies you have a deep understanding of a game, until someone else discovers more advanced tactics and beat your score. Casual gamers don't care for that, they just want to have fun. It's the Invested gamers that try to get the highest score possible.

    • hkgsulphate

      its gonna be another drawsomething

  • rich_952000

    I seriously hope he is at least capitalizing from these games success. It's pretty well every indie devs dream.

    • nini

      Unless you're doing it for the love of it, seems Nguyen was just making games to make games and wasn't after success or money.

  • sam the lion

    Just tried all three of them. Fun, genuinely challenging micro games with interesting pixel graphics. He should release a paid, ad-free app containing 10 or 12 of them. I'd be all over it.

    • P1XL Games

      We tried doing this with P1XL Party, which coincidentally includes "Bat Bite", a very similar game to Flappy Bird. It really didn't catch on, but we're still updating it occasionally. It very well might work for him now that he's super-famous.

      • witedahlia

        Just want to say I loved 4NR.

      • sam the lion

        Bought it. Looks like a lot of fun.

  • seantyas

    I'm sorry I think this is just a huge marketing paid-for scam for publicity. And his comment is just in line with it all. Angry birds is one thing, this is another entirely. Smoke and mirrors.

    • nini


    • Themostunclean

      Flappy Bird was an inside job!!!!

  • Earth Vs. Me

    This is one Dong who doesn't like being exposed.

    • dariusjr98

      You just blew a great opportunity to put on sunglasses and say "YEEEEAAAAAAAAAAH!!!!!!"

  • falco

    Another Flappy bird articles sorry... I agree with him Its not that good Its

  • falco

    This game is nothing new and could have some improvement, the ads come on.

  • Pray For Death

    Developer asks media to leave him in peace.

    Media posts front page article about his tweet.

    • Pray For Death

      jk I love you TA 🙂

  • mclifford82

    See tweet asking for peace: Oh, let's write about him some more.

    • dariusjr98

      Yeah, um, did you read the comment right above yours?

    • P1XL Games

      Sounds like he just doesn't want to be directly hassled with phone calls, tweets, emails etc. I just hope TA didn't try to contact him again for this article 🙂

  • rewind

    I feel bad for him, but he's gotta understand.

    Just like it's his job to create games, it's the media's job to ask him questions. The reporters have to badger him because that's what they're getting paid to do.

    So I do respect that he's a peaceful, minimalist type of person. I respect his strong opinions on everything from ads to fads to media, and can see that he's got a passion for what he does.

    You've got some great games Dong, so just be proud of your success and let people treat you like a celebrity for a few weeks.

    • http://toucharcade.com Eli Hodapp

      I'm not so sure it's his job to make games. No one really knows anything about this guy, and it's entirely possible he's just a hobbyist developer who does stuff like this for fun in his spare time with a life and career he finds incredibly fulfilling outside of making three silly mobile games... And now those things are being absolutely inundated with noise from everyone and their brother wanting a piece of Dong Nguyen's success.

      I feel bad for the guy.

      • http://animaltrackers.wordpress.com/ DAiv Games

        It's a strange world. Often those that want success can't get it, yet those that don't want it, get it.

      • rewind

        I feel bad for him too. But unfortunately, people aren't going to stop bothering him just because he asks them to.

  • kilrtom

    He just wants to enjoy his new found millions of ad revenue in peace 🙂

  • http://twitter.com/BeRad_Ent Be-Rad

    If he wants to shift the attention over to my games that would be fine with me

  • falco

    Making millions from a crappy little game that look like mario, Line Birds and Badland. Whats wrong ? Huh should I call it a game ?

    • http://toucharcade.com Eli Hodapp

      Where did you see he's making millions? Did he do another interview?

  • jquave

    Dear Flappy Bird dev: I will gladly take all your press for my game, Dream Flight. It's got a similar mechanic with what I think is a much deeper narrative.