By now, Dong Nguyen is well known in the media. So is the story about Flappy Bird, the controversial game that Nguyen decided to pull from iTunes because he couldn’t take the pressure of having everyone pester him about it. But he’s eased up a bit lately.He’s “considering” actually putting the game back in the iTunes Store, but not without a warning, so that people stop smashing their phones.
That’s the tidbit he offered to Rolling Stone magazine in a recent interview about his life and the torment he and his family went through as Flappy Bird was becoming a worldwide sensation.
Half of the story told in the interview is already known, but it also offers intricate details regarding Nguyen’s final decision to retract the game which still garners him “tens of thousands of dollars” daily, even after being pulled.
“As news hit of how much money Nguyen was making, his face appeared in the Vietnamese papers and on TV, which was how his mom and dad first learned their son had made the game. The local paparazzi soon besieged his parents' house, and he couldn’t go out unnoticed. While this might seem a small price to pay for such fame and fortune, for Nguyen the attention felt suffocating.”
Nguyen reveals that he was receiving messages from complete strangers saying Flappy Bird was destroying people’s lives.
“Another [person] laments that ‘13 kids at my school broke their phones because of your game, and they still play it cause it’s addicting like crack.’ Nguyen tells me of e-mails from workers who had lost their jobs, a mother who had stopped talking to her kids. ‘At first I thought they were just joking,’ he says, ‘but I realize they really hurt themselves’.”
The Vietnamese 28-year-old could understand these people’s frustration because he himself had been addicted to Counter-Strike as a boy, causing him to flunk exams.
But now that the storm is behind him (despite Apple approving Flappy Bird clones to this day), Nguyen is considering making a comeback.
“He’s not working on a new version [of Flappy Bird], but if he ever releases one it will come with a ‘warning,’ he says: ‘Please take a break’.”
Nguyen says he still loves developing games, so he’s using the money earned from Flappy Bird to buy an apartment where he can work in peace. He also plans to buy himself a nice car: a Mini Cooper.