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Game over: Flappy Bird grounds itself

Monday - 2/10/2014, 3:37am  ET

dead_flappy.jpg
This simple yet challenging game, Flappy Bird, has gone viral among the youth. (WTOP/Omama Altaleb)

Omama Altaleb, special to WTOP.com

WASHINGTON -- The developer of Flappy Bird, formerly the most popular free mobile app on the Apple App Store, has taken the game off the market after promising to do so almost a day earlier.

The game is no longer available in the App Store or Google's Android Play Store, after being pulled Sunday at midnight.

Developer Nguyen Ha Dong has not been available for interviews about his decision, and has reportedly turned off his phone.

Dong had stated recently the game was earning $50,000 a day in advertising revenue.

Shortly before making the announcement he was going to remove the app, he tweeted that the game "ruins his simple life."

Users who downloaded the game previously will be able to continue playing the game that's been labeled challenging, frustrating and addicting.

The strange turn comes as the game skyrocketed in popularity.

"I downloaded it last Wednesday night, after a family member brought it up and said it was impossible. I replied, ‘challenge accepted,'" says Omed Amin, a sophomore engineering major at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va.

After downloading the simple yet intricate game, Amin realized the game wasn't as easy as he anticipated.

"I died, and then I tried again, and died… then I died again, and then I finally got a score of one, but then I died," he says.

The objective behind Flappy Bird is for the player to tap the screen and get the bird through a series of seemingly endless pipes without crashing into them. Once the bird hits a column, it dies and the game is over.

The game was originally released in May. Forbes reports Dong has developed three games which are ranked in the top 10 Apple App Store market with Flappy Bird leading the other two.

There were signs the developer had been surprised by the game's success and response:

Laura Castro, a junior at Potomac Falls High School in Sterling, Va., found out about Flappy Bird from a friend in Spanish class, who was playing the game while simultaneously yelling and complaining about how frustrated the game was.

Despite her friend's frustration, Castro thought she should give the game a try. "I failed completely and got a zero. I got frustrated and promised to never play again, but I ended up playing on the bus on my way home," she says.

Undeterred by the constant failed attempts, both Amin and Castro continue to play.

"I can't sleep at night. I can't think at school. I can't see what's in front of me, without seeing that stupid bird and those Mario-like pipes," Amin says. He didn't give up because of his competitive nature.

As a curious engineering student, Amin looked up the highest score -- roughly three trillion, and concluded that it was "complete rubbish" because it would take 200,000 years to achieve that score.

Castro's highest score is 17, and she has since tried to beat it. She plays during school and whenever she has downtime. Similarly, a 17-year-old senior at Dominion High School, also in Sterling, Va., Abdullah Baig says, "I play it during lunch and whenever I'm free and bored."

Baig enjoys the challenge and stimulation the game inflicts. He cites three reasons for the stimulation: "The game requires a lot of patience, it teaches humans the lesson of will and the game is literally the epitome of frustration."

The brave souls who do choose to play the game vent their frustration via social media sites like Twitter using #FlappyBird, and as a result, tempt their peers and followers to check out the game. Forbes reports it's the social interaction that is one of the four reasons Flappy Bird has gained success.

But not everyone is flying into the pipes of peer pressure.

"I guess I just get bored and it doesn't really have an appeal to me. Everyone else seems super into it though," junior communications major at Mason, Caitlyn Woodward says.

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