Nguyen Ha Dong, the Hanoi-based app developer renowned worldwide for his addictive Flappy Bird mobile game, has been listed among 10 Internet millionaires who made fortunes out of thin air by entertainment news site The Richest.
The programmer, also known by his Twitter name Dong Nguyen, stood in ninth place on the list of ten individuals who earned fame and fortunes via the Internet and now “walk the Earth like kings.”
“Imagine if you created a [viral] game in under two hours, made yourself a fortune, then decided to delete it from the world because it became too much of an ‘addicting product?’” The Richest said of Dong Nguyen, referring to his decision to take Flappy Bird down last year.
Flappy Bird was downloaded more than 50 million times and rated more than 90,000 times in its almost nine months of existence, making the simple game one of the most addictive in recent memory, according to The Richest.
The side-scrolling mobile game featuring 2D retro style graphics earned Nguyen approximately US$3 million, a fortune The Richest said is “not an incredible amount” when compared to others on the list.
“But what sets it apart is that it earned that profit in just 60 days,” the website noted.
The game was released on May 24, 2013 but received a sudden rise in popularity in early 2014. At the end of January 2014, it was the most downloaded free game on the iOS App Store. During this period, its developer claimed that Flappy Bird was earning $50,000 a day from in-app advertisements as well as sales.
Flappy Bird was removed from both Apple's App Store and Google Play by its creator on February 10, 2014, due to guilt over what he considered to be its addictive nature and overuse.
The objective of the game was to direct a flying bird, named "Faby," which moves continuously to the right between sets of Mario-like pipes. If the player touches the pipes, the game ends. The bird briefly flaps upward each time the player taps the screen; if the screen is not tapped, the bird falls due to gravity.
The Richest described Flappy Bird as having driven the world crazy while pushing Dong Nguyen’s mysterious reputation through the roof.
“[Flappy Bird] made its creator into a millionaire almost legitimately overnight,” the website said.
“His decision to take it down was met with worldwide incredulity, but the dividends of the game’s legacy had already been paid in spades.”
In August, Dong Nguyen resurrected the game and renamed it Flappy Birds Family. But it is only available for download from the Android app store and can be played merely on Amazon Fire TV, which is a digital media player that allows users to play video games with the included remote, through a mobile app, or with a game controller.
Later that same month the developer introduced Swing Copters, considered another Flappy Bird sequel. The new game was expected to be Nguyen’s second hit of 2014, but it failed to find fame.
Swing Copters is considered one of the 14 biggest flops in tech this year by Business Insider.
Other millionaires on the list include Matthew Mullenweg, creator of blogging platform WordPress, Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom, and, at the top, E.L. James, the British author of the bestselling erotic romance novels trilogy Fifty Shades of Grey.
“Entrepreneurs have been able to bend the Internet to their wills, turning an open marketplace and simple ideas into the most lucrative of ventures,” The Richest said of the achievements of the selected millionaires.
“With exceptionally low entrance costs of digital business, turning one previously inconceivable concept into a viral sensation netting millions is there for anyone to seize.”