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

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

Russia’s Prosecutor General to Review Legality of Baltics Independence

Move, announced Tuesday, has alarmed Baltic States and strained even further their increasingly tense ties with Moscow More

US Urged to Keep Up Pressure on Cuba Rights

Communist government continues to hold dozens of political prisoners, tightly restricts freedom of expression, uses threats, intimidation to discourage critics, according to activist groups 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.
Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Interneti
X
Mike O'Sullivan
June 30, 2015 8:20 PM
Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.

VOA Blogs