The biggest smartphone game of the weekend had a moment, and now it's gone. Created by Dong Nguyen of Vietnam, Flappy Bird — Angry Birds plus Super Mario, minus any variety (the only move was to tap the screen, keeping your bird afloat) — has been deleted from app stores after rocketing to fame among mainstream America (50 million free downloads, $50,000 a day in ads) before the cultural elite noticed, like Macklemore.
It was, by most accounts, not very fun, but highly addictive. "Because the game cares so little for your experience of it, you find yourself ever more devoted to it," wrote Ian Bogost in The Atlantic. "If Candy Crush is a designer drug, Flappy Bird is the pure product, uncut with additives," said Slate's Will Oremus, who tracked the game's rise and fall. Eventually, the world overdosed.
Nguyen, who released the game last May, became gradually overwhelmed with the game's popularity over the last month, going from proud to paranoid (and denying he was facing legal issues because he ripped off Mario):
Wow, my game got in top 10 US free apps. Thank you, people. pic.twitter.com/CiCuHRjfjR— Dong Nguyen (@dongatory) January 12, 2014
I can call 'Flappy Bird' is a success of mine. But it also ruins my simple life. So now I hate it.— Dong Nguyen (@dongatory) February 8, 2014
I am sorry 'Flappy Bird' users, 22 hours from now, I will take 'Flappy Bird' down. I cannot take this anymore.— Dong Nguyen (@dongatory) February 8, 2014
It is not anything related to legal issues. I just cannot keep it anymore.— Dong Nguyen (@dongatory) February 8, 2014
Phones with Flappy Bird already installed are for sale on eBay with extremely dubious bids reaching five figures. Flappy Bird is survived by app-store rip-offs like Fly Birdie and Flappy Plane, along with the Twitter account Flappy Bird Problems and its 143,000 followers.