'Flappy Bird' Game Deleted Over Nintendo Copyright? Creator Receiving Death Threats

Was the massively successful mobile game pulled from the app store because of Nintendo?

 @theabigailelise
on February 10 2014 12:26 PM
flappy
Was "Flappy Bird" pulled because of a Nintendo copyright? Courtesy/GEARS Studio

“Flappy Bird,” the mobile game phenomenon that was pulling in $50,000 per day, has been yanked from the Google Play and Apple iOS stores on Feb. 8 by its Vietnamese creator, Dong Nguyen.

“I am sorry, 'Flappy Bird' users, 22 hours from now, I will take 'Flappy Bird' down. I cannot take this anymore,” Nguyen tweeted on Saturday, seeming to refer to various forms of criticism he'd received.

The highly addictive and frustrating mobile title was creating a lot of angry users. Though it was simple and easy to play, critics, gamers and bloggers began tearing “Flappy Bird” apart as it grew in popularity. Users were accusing Nguyen of using bots to ensure higher ratings and more users and even calling “Flappy Bird” plagiarism and “ripped-off art.”

“'Flappy Bird' is entirely artless, and completely uninterested in giving us an experience outside of mechanical mastery. There's no variation, and the one mechanic never evolves or even attempts to apply itself in interesting ways,” said IGN. “'Flappy Bird' isn't a good video game. It's arguably not even a fun one.”

When Nguyen decided to pull the game, he received a high number of negative responses, death threats and suicide tweets. One woman even tweeted him a photo of a gun in her mouth, saying, “If you delete flappy bird, I’ll kill myself.” Even if a majority of these messages weren’t serious, this gives you an idea of the massive amount of attention Nguyen was forced to endure during the game's sudden rise.

Gamers are still baffled as to why Nguyen chose to remove “Flappy Bird” from the app store while it was bringing in $50,000 daily in ad revenue. Though the creator stated on Twitter that he was upset over the negative press the game was receiving, some speculate that the reason “Flappy Bird” was removed from the app store is because of its eerily similar appearance to Nintendo’s 1985 game “Super Mario Bros.”

App review site Apple’N’Apps reported the game wasn’t voluntarily removed from the app store by Nguyen. Nintendo allegedly contacted Apple regarding the early Nintendo-like appearance of the game, claiming Apple was in violation of the Japanese company’s copyright. Apple then contacted Nguyen regarding the claim, alerting Nguyen he had 24 hours to remove “Flappy Bird.”

“A person familiar with the App Store review process tells Apple’N’Apps that 'Flappy Bird' wasn’t removed voluntarily by Mr. Nguyen, as he claims. It turns out that Nintendo got in touch with Apple regarding the art assets in Flappy Bird claiming that they’re in direct violation of their copyrights. Apple contacted Mr. Nguyen regarding the copyright claim, and that’s why we saw the new updated version with graphic changes to the pipes,” the site posted. “Nintendo already decided that they had seen enough, and Apple is the one who pushed Mr. Nguyen to remove 'Flappy Bird' (with 24-hour notice). It’s a sad state of affairs, but you could argue that 'Flappy Bird' was at least partially boosted by the very familiar graphics. In all honesty, the pipe sprites of 'Flappy Bird' aren’t merely replicas but practically identical down to the shading.”

Of course, Nguyen claims he chose to take down “Flappy Bird,” but his other two games, “Super Ball Juggling” and “Shuriken Block,” remain available in the app store. “It wouldn’t be the first time Nintendo has asked Apple to remove a game from the App Store for copyright infringement,” said iPhonehacks. “Apple has removed a ‘Duck Hunt’ clone and several ‘Pokemon’ ripoffs based on Nintendo’s request.”

The Wall Street Journal reported that Nintendo denied having any complaints about “Flappy Bird.” Nintendo spokesman Yasuhiro Minagawa said the brand didn’t have a problem with Nguyen’s creation. “While we usually do not comment on the rumors and speculations, we have already denied the speculation,” he said.

It is somewhat suspicious for Nguyen to have pulled the game at the height of its success. Do you think Nintendo complained about the appearance of “Flappy Bird”? Leave a comment below.

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