Flappy Bird Maker Kills Golden Goose

Just days after detailing how he pulled in $50,000 a day in ads, the creator of Flappy Birds has removed the game from app stores. It’s prompted speculation of everything from lawsuits to conspiracy theories.

As we covered last week, Dong Nguyen gave an interview to The Verge in which he explained how he made the money solely from in-app advertising and that he had deliberately avoided either a paid app model or in-app purchases.

On Saturday, what appears to be his Twitter account posted a message reading: “I am sorry ‘Flappy Bird’ users, 22 hours from now, I will take ‘Flappy Bird’ down. I cannot take this anymore.” He followed through on that promise.

Since then the account has noted “It is not anything related to legal issues. I just cannot keep it anymore.” and that “I also don’t sell ‘Flappy Bird’, please don’t ask.”

It’s certainly true that the media coverage of the game’s success sparked several suggestions of intellectual property issues. As well as several comparisons to Mario games, two GaS readers both noted similarities to a French mobile game.

For what it’s worth, Nintendo has specifically denied that it has made any complaint about the game.

There’s certainly a school of thought that legal worries would be the only logical reason you would give up a game that was making so much money, but that doesn’t necessarily hold up. For one thing, the game is still usable by people who’ve already downloaded it, so the ad money is still flowing.

For another, if the $50,000 a day figure is correct, Nguyen may already have made enough that he never need worry about money again and can afford to pull the game in a bid to stave off public attention (at least once the impact of the removal passes.) Shortly before announcing his decision, the Twitter account noted “I can call ‘Flappy Bird’ is a success of mine. But it also ruins my simple life. So now I hate it.”

There’s even a theory that the removal is some sort of stunt, though it’s hard to see how it pays off. The suggestion that it’s designed to make the game seem more exclusive is a bit off given tens of millions of people already have it installed.

Still, that’s not stopped some people trying to capitalize on the supposed scarcity value: one eBay poster has listed an iPhone 5S with the game installed and bidding has, rather suspiciously, already reached $99,900. Edit: The iPhone has now been removed.