News / Science & Technology

Flappy Bird: A Game Changer for Vietnam’s Developers

Nguyen Ha Dong, the author of the game Flappy Bird relax inside a coffee shop in Hanoi, Feb. 5, 2014.
Nguyen Ha Dong, the author of the game Flappy Bird relax inside a coffee shop in Hanoi, Feb. 5, 2014.
Marianne Brown
Until Sunday, the world’s most popular smartphone game was “Flappy Bird,” a simple but frustratingly difficult video game that was created by a developer in Vietnam. But just as its popularity soared, its creator abruptly removed the game from the marketplace.  

Surprisingly difficult and infuriatingly addictive, Flappy Bird has become a global sensation. Last week it became a top seller on both Apple iPhones and smartphones using the Google Android operating system.

The game uses simple graphics, that reminded many of Nintendo’s “Super Mario Brothers,” a classic video game from the 1980s, players guide a flapping bird between broken pipes by tapping the screen.

Smartphone games are big business, with many companies hiring teams of programmers to make the next hit. But indie developer Nguyen Ha Dong said it only took him a few days to create Flappy Bird.

The success of the game was completely unexpected, and inexplicable, much like Korean popstar Psy’s smash hit "Gangam Style," the editor of Tech-in-Asia, Anh Minh Do said. “I talk about how everyone copies Angry Birds principles, and I think people will try to copy the principles of Flappy Bird. You know maybe Flappy Bird’s fame is not copyable. Maybe it’s one of those flukes… I think it’s very hard to replicate those moments,” said Minh.

An employee plays the game Flappy Bird at a smartphone store in Hanoi, Feb. 10, 2014.An employee plays the game Flappy Bird at a smartphone store in Hanoi, Feb. 10, 2014.
x
An employee plays the game Flappy Bird at a smartphone store in Hanoi, Feb. 10, 2014.
An employee plays the game Flappy Bird at a smartphone store in Hanoi, Feb. 10, 2014.
But being shot to fame was apparently too much for the game’s 29-year-old creator, Hanoi native Nguyen Ha Dong. In a series of messages he published on Twitter in recent days, Dong revealed he was taking the game down because the attention was overwhelming.

“I can call Flappy Bird is a success of mine. But it also ruins my simple life. So now I hate it,” he wrote.

But although it’s "Game Over" for Flappy Bird, experts are hopeful Dong’s legacy in Vietnam could be longer lasting.

Vietnam is the largest online games market by value in South-East Asia, with revenue of over $250 million in 2013.

The local market is dominated by VNG, which holds 60 percent of the Vietnamese gaming market.  But Dong is one of thousands of upcoming independent developers, who mostly focus on creating mobile games.

Despite that competition, Tech In Asia’s Minh said the quality of the games they produce tends to be low.

“Not that many of them are world class and not that many of them are going after the global market. If you’re going for the global market then you have to be way better,” he said.

In Vietnam, games are very expensive to develop and are hindered by complicated licensing procedures. The result is most Vietnamese gamers play foreign games, particularly from China, which are adapted for the local market.

Do Quy Doan, who recently retired as deputy minister of communication, said the games industry in Vietnam is still new and there are still obstacles as well as mechanisms to encourage it.

Doan said the success of Flappy Bird is very encouraging for the future of the games industry.

In the meantime, whether he likes it or not, the spotlight is likely to remain on Flappy Bird’s creator Nguyen Ha Dong, even though his game is no longer available to download.

You May Like

Mood Tense Ahead of Scotland Independence Vote

As race to persuade undecided voters continues, 'No' voters say they believe life in Scotland will slowly improve, 'Yes' vote not worth the risk More

South Africa’s 'Open Mosque' Admits Everyone, Including Critics

Open Mosque founder plans to welcome gay worshipers and allow women to lead prayers More

Ukrainian Activist in Despair About Future of Her Country

IrIna Dovgan, accused of being a spy and tortured by pro-Russian separatists, is appealing to UN Human Rights Council to support her country More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Anonymous
March 03, 2014 4:42 PM
The communist government frowns on his type of capitalism.


by: Nick from: Canada
February 11, 2014 11:16 AM
He shouldn't be a game developer anymore because what if another game of his goes viral? He's gonna pull the plug on that one too. Very disappointed in his decision and no longer a fan.

In Response

by: Name from: Waco,TX
February 11, 2014 2:49 PM
He should REALLY but Flappy bird BACK ON Because its really a good game it's only the game that EVERYBODY plays


by: Bearman from: U.S.A.
February 11, 2014 6:31 AM
Fear of too much success? Poor fellow.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Wateri
X
September 17, 2014 8:44 PM
Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid