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

On Everest, Helicopters Rescue Stranded Climbers

Choppers transport some of more than 100 mountaineers trapped after deadly quake, avalanches More

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

In 2005, a Paris suburb exploded into violence after two teenagers were electrocuted as they hid from police; since then, somethings have changed, others not More

US, Japan Announce Historic Revision of Defense Cooperation Guidelines

Nations say new guidelines will be 'cornerstone for peace and security' in Asia-Pacific region while also serving as 'platform for a more stable international security environment' 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.
‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europei
X
Henry Ridgwell
April 26, 2015 10:36 PM
Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video ‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europe

Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

January’s terrorist attacks and fears of more to come are casting a spotlight on France’s neglected suburbs. Home to many immigrants, and sometimes hubs of crime, they were rocked by rioting a decade ago. Lisa Bryant visited the Paris suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois, where the 2005 violence first broke out, and has this report about what has changed and what has not.
Video

Video Gay Marriage Goes Before US Supreme Court

This week, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments on whether gay people have a constitutional right to marriage. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the case could lead to the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage, or a continuation of the status quo in which individual states decide whether to recognize gay unions.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.

VOA Blogs