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

Video On The Scene: In Ethiopia, 'Are You a Journalist?' Is a Loaded Question

VOA's Anita Powell describes the difficulties faced by reporters in fully conveying the story in a country where people are reticent to share their true opinions More

Nigerians Await New President With High Hopes

When pomp and circumstance of inauguration end in Abuja, Buhari will sit down to the hard task of governing Nigeria More

India's Restrictions on Several NGOs Raise Concerns

Political analysts link recent clampdown on advocacy groups to report last year that said foreign-funded NGO’s negatively impact economic development 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.
Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardshipi
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

VOA Blogs