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Scepticism, death threats as Flappy Bird developer pulls game from stores

Published on Feb 10, 2014 7:01 PM
 
This picture taken on Feb 5, 2014 shows Nguyen Ha Dong, the author of the game Flappy Bird relaxing inside a coffee shop in Hanoi. News that Mr Dong has pulled pop culture phenomenon Flappy Bird from app stores has sparked criticism, death threats, and even attempts to turn a profit on eBay. -- PHOTO: AFP

News that Vietnamese game developer Nguyen Ha Dong has pulled pop culture phenomenon Flappy Bird from app stores has sparked criticism, death threats, and even attempts to turn a profit on eBay.

Mr Dong, known as @dongatory on Twitter, announced the decision to pull the hugely-popular game from Apple and Google's online stores because he "couldn't take this anymore".

The game gives users the simple-sounding, yet difficult task of keeping a bird afloat through obstacles. It was released in May 2013, but only saw a surge in popularity in November 2013, eventually resulting in over 50 million downloads.

Naturally, the news also led to quips online:

The enigmatic Mr Dong also began to shy away from the media spotlight, reportedly cancelling an interview with Reuters, and refusing to respond to several requests for comment. But many questioned Mr Dong's sudden decision, especially amid a report that he was making US$50,000 a day from in-app advertising in the game.

Some sceptics dismissed the announcement as a publicity stunt.

Whether serious or not, Mr Dong also received death threats over Flappy Bird's removal. CNBC's Eli Langer compiled a list of Twitter users threatening to kill the Flappy Bird developer.

Rumours of Mr Dong committing suicide - now-debunked - even began to spread.

Other more enterprising users took an entirely different approach to Flappy Bird's removal. Following Mr Dong's announcement, listings for smartphones with Flappy Bird installed began to appear on online auction site eBay, with one even attracting bids of up to US$90,000. 

However, while Mr Dong has clipped Flappy Bird's wings, he still has other games available, such as Super Ball Juggling and Shuriken Block. Imitators have also emerged, such as the superhero-themed Ironpants, which topped the US and Singapore App Stores as of Monday morning.

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Flappy Bird: A silly game that is so hard to master
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