The Vietnamese game designer who flapped his wings to the top of the app heap with Flappy Bird, earning $50,000 a day in the process, has grounded all flights. Dong Nguyen created Flappy Bird quickly and shot it down just as fast, leaving millions of Flappy Bird addicts jonesing for a fix. Like every app that skyrockets to the top (Candy Crush, for instance), Flappy Bird creates compulsive behavior in its players, who compete and share scores across social networks like Facebook and Twitter. Why did he take it down? What sort of person looks $50,000 a day in the face and turns away? A man who wants to keep things simple, apparently. Nguyen tweeted recently that “Flappy Bird…ruins my simple life. I hate it.” This lament, inevitably, was retweeted more than 7,300 times.
Strangely, Flappy Bird took a little while to catch on. A little while in Internet time, that is: it was launched all the way back in the spring of 2013 but didn’t catch fire until late fall, when it spread wildly. Nguyen himself is unsure what incited the virality. Tipping points, whatever Mr. Gladwell says, are sometimes hard to trace. (One certainty: it is hard and gratifying to move this little bird through the green bars it must traverse–maddeningly hard and gratifying.) Flappy Bird’s official pages in the app stores have been shuttered. Presumably those who still have it will be able to keep playing indefinitely, though there may be elements built to expire at a certain point. There’s also speculation that the maker of Super Mario Bros., whose artwork (at the very least) strongly influenced the Flappy Bird art, is behind the closure. Apple iPhones with the game installed are being posted for sale at near $90,000.