Our culture is so completely and utterly obsessed with money that everyone says he's an idiot for taking down an app without realizing the chaos one goes through in a situation like that. They hurl insults like "weak" and "fragile" as though someone isn't allowed to be shy ever since the internet happened. The sheer amount of greed on display in debates about this game is deeply unnerving, and it seems as though modern culture has forgotten that there are many things that are more important than money. It seems as though our entire country is hopelessly addicted to accumulating more and more pieces of green paper, only to be puzzled when having a large number in their bank account fails to actually solve any of their problems.
There may be a small handful of people in the world for whom taking the app down is the long-term rational decision. But I'd wager they are a fairly rare breed.
Most people who get one don't know if they can talk about it publicly or not and just want it to go away.
" I'm not sure if that is due to genuine virality & copy cat ommentors, an army of keyword-fed reviewers, or an advanced spintax generator. "
"I still have no idea whether or not Flappy Bird gamed the system"
Not much of a smoking gun there.
I could imagine scenarios where acquiring that kind of money could destroy your personal relationships, and make you a target of unwanted attention from governments, mafias, or weirdos.
>>only to be puzzled when having a large number in their bank account fails to actually solve any of their problems.
I'm not sure what kind of utterly broken philosophy propagates this idea. Do people actually believe that some one starving, unable to afford any kind of medical care, who doesn't have a proper home, clothes or anything for that matter is far more happy than a millionaire?
What kind of a brainwashing does it take to help such absurd thoughts totally devoid of common sense to sink in?
Not one single person who is rich I know isn't happy. When rich people talk of money being unable to solve 'some problems' they are talking of stuff which I wouldn't even consider as problems. They are more like minor small time inconveniences.
Lots of fake people out there.
(Incidentally, the book The Happiness Hypothesis covers this subject as well as how to actually become happier.)
>>Not one single person who is rich I know isn't happy.
There are a lot of people who are confused between things like sadness, disappointment, inconvenience, hopelessness and many such negative emotions.
The problem is we bundle them all en masse in to this category called 'happiness' or its opposite. To be happy is a overloaded term used to define many emotions.
Rich people suffer from the same negative emotions any human on earth goes through. Because they are humans. If their child doesn't win a soccer game, they may get disappointed, if some one in the family falls ill to a deadly disease without a cure they may feel hopeless. But these are emotions every human regardless of their financial status goes through. Whether you are rich or poor.
Having money will keep you well fed, clothed and housed. Your medical expenses are taken care of. Your children's needs are tended to and give you an overall sense of confidence and a sense of safety and freedom.
Being poor means you have a put up with a great deal of BS that life throws at you. You have to sacrifice every single thing, every single desire of yours. Its very exact opposite of what I wrote above.
I don't know of one single human who doesn't go through human emotions but yeah coming to being happy in the sense having to never really get screwed at every step along the way. Rich people never really stop being happy, and most poor people don't even what that kind of happiness actually is. Basically because they continually being fed this garbage that suffering in their current state is far better than breaking out of it.
Even with medical bills "taken care of", health issues don't just disappear. Making love work is just as hard for wealthy people as for anybody else. And some wealthy people feel trapped by their wealth and the responsibility that comes with it. I had a conversation with a guy who had been "told" by his mother that it was time for him to step up as CEO in the family business. We are talking about a large company and this guy flies his own helicopter. I met him in Bangkok where I was staying for the time because I was just traveling around. He told me that he envied me and I got the impression that he was truly miserable because he really didn't want to be CEO of this company. If this man is happy by your definition then it's definitely different from the definition that I subscribe to.
It's less clear-cut with love, but at least marriage is much easier for wealthy people - or at least, non-poor people. Divorce rates are higher among poor people, and it makes sense: being low on cash creates a new stress factor, and relationships can be broken by that.
I'm not aware of clear evidence when it comes to love, but I'd wager that it looks at least similar.
It is not obsession with money, it is just confusion over it. I mean, it isn't that hard to ignore all the bad comments and emails, and a small price to pay for riches. There must be something else going on, and that is the bit that is frustrating, not knowing.
Of course, it is completely up to him, and this is in no way justification for awful comments or messages to the dev.
The gravity and emotional toll of receiving death threats and verbal harassment is often incredibly underestimated by those who haven't received them.
The actions and statements of the author seem completely at odds, and he literally could not do more self-promotion if he tried. Seriously, beyond assassinating a world leader dressed as flappy bird, I cannot fathom how he could have cemented more attention.
He had a hit game. These come and go, usually with the creators completely shrouded and hidden. But he does an interview where he states enormous income levels, guaranteeing an incredible amount of media attention. He is all hands on twitter. Then, in the face of supposed negative attention (or simply attention), and coincidentally at what many would say is almost certainly the crest of the game's popularity, he announces that he is removing the game...in a day. So get in and get those downloads, before you lose your chance. Again, enormous attention across the media.
Had he not done the original interview. Had he not announced that he was making $50K per day on ads. Had he not then announced a 24-hours until its gone window...he would have remained yet another anonymous game creator. Instead we know how it played out.
It could entirely be cultural misunderstandings, but it is tough to listen to the whole "just leave him alone" claims in the face of actions that the most manipulative, talented PR agency would dream up.
Just accept the cash and fade off into obscurity.
It's hard to empathize with somebody who had to take a specific action to make himself less better off in the end, he was better off with doing nothing at all.
I'm not saying that my sentence is absolutely correct. It's my personal experience, based on what I know and observe everyday. I just don't buy your "tiny bit of Googling".
And please, don't rely on common sense. Things that are so called "common sense" are often agreed within a community and not universally correct, regarding to other communities.
That's said, what I was trying to tell is that earning lots of money doesn't automatically make you a huge target. Yes, Vietnam is a poor/developing country. But it's actually quite safe and peaceful, as long as you use "common sense" (our common sense, if that matters). Money is not everything people care about. And for people that really want your money, at least they don't have gun :) (no offense).
(Should also clarify that my "common sense" is also based on, like you, personal experience. I would just rather rely on actual research, which, again, seems to flatly contradict your claims.)
So yes, I don't have a reliable source either. Though I believe that there are no less than thousands or even tens of thousands. Buy it or not, your choice :)
Just a random story: three years ago, a 66 years old lady owned around 50 millions USD in various types of assets. The thing is no one, including her adopted daughter, knew that before her sudden death. Would her name be mentioned in the list of millionaires? I don't think so.
It's like somebody taking up smoking, drugs and drinking when they have no interest in those things at all and would be much happier and healthier without. Or actively going out of their way to not learn to read.
Even if he does have an emotional/psychological problem (which I do empathize with), he could roll that money into a stellar long-term treatment program and come out better on the other side. Or just donate the money to a charity or something.
Vague "I can't take all this opportunity to do nothing and solve many of my life's problems" is not something that's easy to empathize with.
So far, the only official comment from the government is that he should pay income tax (which is reasonable I think). It is also stated that he will get a favored tax rate, since the government wants to encourage developers like him and IT sector in general. Note that income tax was introduced quite recently in Vietnam (a few years ago I think) and the tax rate is pretty low, compare to other countries.
Generally speaking people and the media have a positive opinion about Dong. Some even say Vietnam is proud of him, he inspires young Vietnamese developers (communism, remember?), etc. Of course, there are haters, just like anywhere else.
On the other side there are also people like %#&$* Scoble that say this is just a marketing play. The lack of empathy and awareness that not everyone in the world is as greedy and selfish as you really upsets me. But you said it better anyway.
Of course, many of the fans of Y Combinator know that changing the world is more important, but those who have time to comment here and seem focus on extracting rent rather than creating value needed to read this.
But, more importantly (and I might show how old I am by saying this) I didn't feel like this since ’94 and Kurt Cobain’s death: same accusations of being a manipulative mastermind playing hard to get, lacking talent, copying, and the same glaringly obvious suicide warnings: “I want peace”? Really? Do you need anything clearer? An Instagram of the guy with a shotgun in his mouth, asking ‘Like if you think I should pull the trigger, comment otherwise’?
If it happens, there will be so much hand-washing here…
That money isn't just going to stay in his bank account - he can use it to fund a new app, get a car, a new computer, a house, education - it does seem weak willed to take it down because of the pressure of success (of all things)...
Considering that Flappy Bird was made popular by power users on other platforms (particularly YouTube), I think that this point is really important: the app store is probably not the best platform to surface new apps.
A good exercise for entrepreneurs is to think of a better model. If anything, the success of Flappy Bird is one hell of an incentive to find out.
(Also: if you have ideas about this, like me, we should have a chat.)
Even Netflix, which has a relatively small pool of things to sort through, doesn't do a particularly good job of it. It often recommends things I have no interest in whatsoever, and conversely never recommends things I very much want to watch but have to find manually.
It's practical to manually sort as a Netflix customer precisely because their pool is relatively shallow. But I wonder if their weak recommendations are due to that shallow pool, and that in the end there just aren't enough ratings for machine learning algorithms to actually work the way they're supposed to.
There's obviously a lot of money in getting recommendations and discovery to actually work, but I wonder if everyone is on a path that's sort of condemned to failure due to lack of enough data.
Dunno. Thinking out loud really. I know it's something I'm dissatisfied with pretty much across the board.
I see this message repeated by a lot of tech people, but I feel like I get fairly good recommendations. Am I alone?
What is it about the recommendations that seem bad? Is it because you know there is better content there but the metadata has somehow not categorized it properly for cross-referencing, or does it seem more like it's guessing from a shallow pool and trying to bubble up whatever content it can find, even if it's not a great match?
Is there any kind of open source recommendation framework or standard? Couldn't Netflix publish the details of its algorithm, including which metrics it has, to help the community think up more ways to analyze? The value in Netflix right now is in the content, not in the recommendation engine.
Looks like the competition Netflix used to host was ended in 2009... would be great if they started it again: http://www.netflixprize.com
I know I'm dissatisfied. I know it doesn't show me movies I very much want to see, and that it clutters my recommendations with a lot of things I'll never watch.
My feeling is that it doesn't capture why I like the movies I like.
The categories they've been refining over the years are likely an attempt to address that, but they seem to be missing the important information still.
PS- re the contest, there was a problem with the anonymized data being de-anonymized by researchers, so they couldn't make it available any more.
As a result, I find myself gradually tending more and more to use various other streaming services first, and only settle for Netflix if I can't find it somewhere else first. (I should just cancel Netflix entirely but haven't gotten around to it yet.)
Their suggestions seemed better when they were a mail-only service and hence not subject to the same limited pool. (A separate factor: when I initially got Netflix there was a HUGE list of movies I wanted to see and hadn't yet; over time that pool also has substantially diminished. So there might be fewer good matches to find even if Netflix had unlimited scope to provide the good matches.)
Maybe they couldn't be bothered, maybe they assumed it would know based on what they watched, or maybe because these were couples I often talked to it was awkward to bring up rating the movie when there were potentially two different opinions on it, and one or both parties unwilling to debate the issue...
I've spent a lot of time talking to my Dad about healthcare (he's a doctor) and he never recommends mobile apps to his patients for weight loss or anything along those lines. I can't really blame him... there are tens of thousands of health apps. That might change if he had an online tool to send his patients to that did the heavy lifting of making an intelligent recommendation. Here's an interesting study that shows how doctors can be a powerful catalyst in this regard: http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-67...
In the end, it'd just be an app recommendation engine for health. That aside, I 100% agree with what you're saying.
Nguyen via Twitter: "Press people are overrating the success of my games. It is something I never want. Please give me peace."
Polygon: "We've reached out to Nguyen for comment and will
Good job everyone. Good job.
What kind of game developer doesn't want it's creations to succeed?
If it turns out it was just a fluke, still more interesting it is.
It is a tiny simple free app. You do one thing, you get one number back.
A bit like nananca bike crash. These very simple games are great for the "just one more go" factor, and the bragging rights of "hey! I just beat your top score".
Over analysis could lead to incorrect conclusions so I'd be wary of any analysis that explained Flappy Bird without explaining the failure of all the other similar games.
I'd decided to hack off a quirky part of a project I was working on into a jQuery plugin and make a landing page for people to play with it.
Nobody went to it. For months. Like not one person. It's still online today, although I've obviously broken the plugin at some point .
Months later my jaw hit the floor when I woke up to an inbox full of emails about this thing. The page had had thousands upon thousands of hits. Not from Belfast, but from NY and SF. It had been featured on a ton of blogs, discussions etc, all in the 6 hours or so I'd been asleep. Traffic had peaked, but it kept coming.
A friend we hadn't seen in a while called into our little co-working space to tell me "that thing you put on Hacker News" had been on the front page for hours. I'd never even heard of HN at this point!
There was no rhyme nor reason to any of this. The page had been available for months. All I can surmise is that something lit the touchpaper that started a chain reaction. And that I've a lot to learn about how virality works and what makes it function.
It makes me wonder did he really engage in some grey market stuff to push Flappy Bird a little. I kind of wonder why he would fork out for something like that when the precedent would indicate he wasn't onto a winner with this game.
In retrospect we know he had a great game, the potential for serious chain-reaction style virality was there, maybe the spark that lit the touch-paper was something innocuous that no-one would ever guess?
On top of that, let's face it: the game ain't that much. It's not like there was some special secret sauce he put in there. I can guarantee you that there are another 1000+ games out there just as simple and playable as flappy bird out there.
So this story, aside from the marketing moves (which I would love to find out about as long as my best 40K other HN friends do not at the same time), is just about winning the lottery. Guy writes app, wins the lottery.
This kind of lottery keeps poor schmucks writing apps for walled garden playstores. You get ten thousand people slaving away over little apps, each one hoping to be this guy. He's the guy in the casino who hits on the slots. The casino definitely wants to make sure all the rubes see the pile of money he gets.
I don't know that this is true. Or maybe it's true for "simple and playable", but maybe they're missing the "fun and addictive" qualities that made Flappy Bird work.
There's a lot of subtle things that made Flappy Bird a game people enjoyed- the exact responses of the control, the timing and spacing of the obstacles, the quickness of the games, the ease of restarting, and so on. If any of that had been slightly off, it might not have made it.
I'm not at all sure he got all that right intentionally, it might well be he just got the balances right through accident.
But I do think the precise qualities of the game did matter, and I don't think there's a huge number of games out there that could have done just as well.
Of course, all those things you mention are important. Critical, even. But appstores are not meritocracies, no more than the music industry is. You've got to be working at the top of your game, getting all the details right, and even then 1) you've got a small chance of making it big, and 2) somebody with less skill and execution might do much better than you do.
These aren't reasons to give up, just to understand the risks involved. This market exists to extract the maximum amount of developer work for the minimum amount of money. That way the consumers love their little gadgets more -- and will buy even more. It does not exist to make really great developers a decent living. (Although that's certainly possible)
Then everyone in the media calls his game crap and accuses him of cheating the system (without producing any proof). I'd quit too.
Then when he said he didn't like the attention, more hate came. Then when he said he was pulling it, death threats came.
Reminds me of people who win the lottery. All their friends just want something, charities start bugging them, they can't be left alone.
I feel sorry for him.
I'd rather just not read twitter for a few weeks(can't be that hard) and rake in the cash.
Granted, he probably made about a million by now, which will presumably last quite long where he lives. Still, he could have just kept it online and would probably never have to worry about money again.
Eastern (Asian) culture is a bit different than western attitude and way of approaching things.
but seriously best of luck to you if it is you.
you should remake the game now with a black swan in place of yellow bird.
So I don't know if it's as simple to suggest it was a pay-for-review scheme, but rather just its own thing.
Same thing happened on Amazon milk reviews:
The game was available on the store for seven months without getting much traction. The developer probably thought he would try some kind of pay-per-review/promotion service to get a few more downloads.
This got the game into the charts, but it only really began to take off because unlike many of its peers using pay-per-review the game actually had a hook that got people playing. In this case the pay-per-review was a tiny catalyst for vast growth.
Of course, this assumes the developer used some sort of paid promotion service.
Despite how rare it is to have a true grassroots viral hit, I think that's what happened in this case.
The journey of Flappy Bird appears to me like this:
Stage 1: Almost no attention, almost no growth
Stage 2: Some kind of grey market paid downloads / ratings service
Stage 3: Attention of minimum critical mass of early consumers (increase in audience of 1 or perhaps 2 orders of magnitude)
Stage 4: Attention of influencers on other platforms, especially pewdiepie on youtube (increase in audience by a couple of orders of magnitude)
Stage 5: Attention by large community of enthusiasts (increase in audience by a couple of orders of magnitude)
Stage 6: Mass market attention
where each stage is dependent on the one before it, with the exception of stage 2, which is performed externally.
What's interesting to me is that the qualities the game possesses, which were sufficient to carry it from stage 3 to stage 6 without promotion on the part of the dev, were not sufficient to propel it from stage 1 to stage 3. We could say that the true quality of the game was unknown in stage 1.
My personal opinion is that the vast majority of content created languishes in the equivalent of stage 1 for its particular ecosystem. Of this content, the vast majority will be garbage, a small minority will be reasonable and a tiny minority will have the potential to be a widespread hit. But of this last group, most or all of it will never emerge from stage 1 because stage 1 does not provide it with enough attention to separate it from the rest of the (bad) stage 1 content.
Increasingly I think that the journey to stage 1 to stage 3 is the most important, most difficult and most overlooked part of the progression.
For example, when something is submitted to HN, from my anecdotal observation it will typically get something like 5-10 simultaneous visitors from the new page. If it gets a minimum critical mass of votes to hit the front page, this will increase immediately to something like 50-100 simultaneous viewers and increase from there. But often, it only takes 3-5 upvotes for it to hit the front page. So the relatively trivial actions of the small critical mass of early consumers has an extraordinarily large effect on the dissemination of the content. Indeed, as a content creator, it's often struck me that the actions of those first 3-5 people have an equivalent significance, in terms of the world's experience of my content, to me as the creator.
And if you create good content, then just getting to the front page is by far the most difficult part of the process, because once there you will naturally attract upvotes from the vastly increased exposure. But with only a few random bits of cosmic entropy set differently, the creator could create exactly the same content, fail to get those first 3-5 votes, and the number of views on the article/app/etc. could be 10 rather than 10,000 or 100,000.
In my experience, lots of platforms follow the same model. Reddit is a very obvious one, but the same holds to for trying to get press interest: so much depends upon the decisions of a few key journalists, and that decision may depend on how many other emails hit their inbox that hour, or whether or not they've had their coffee yet, or some other particle of background entropy. This isn't a criticism of the press, it's just a consequence of the current system. The same is true for people who run influential blogs or social media accounts with large followings, or newsletters.
The problem is that there is less attention available per item of content than the minimum quantity of attention needed to rate the quality of that content well. When I create something new, my worry is never "Boy, I hope that people don't simply dislike this," it's always "Boy, I hope that enough people see this to give it a shot of achieving its potential, whatever that turns out to be." If it turns out people don't like it, which is of course always a possibility, that's fairly easy to handle. If it disappears into obscurity, that's much more difficult to accept.
When I create content now, my promotion strategy is 99% focused on that first stage. If it reaches that critical mass of attention among a small number of early, influential people, I feel like my job is done and the chips should fall as they may. If it reaches that initial critical mass, people will want to write press stories about it and post it on social media and ask for interviews and tell their friends about it, assuming its any good. This may be an obvious conclusion, but the interesting part, for me, is that the initial critical mass is much smaller, much more random and much more difficult to achieve than most people realize.
Say I found a link here and it's a really good long form story, I really got into it, even had a coffee break while reading it. Then I want to vote for it, but the link has fallen down and is hard to find back.
It is even worse on Google, Facebook or Twitter, because of the infinite scrolling. I always open seemingly interesting links in the background and continue scrolling, but then hardly ever even try to like, plus one or favorite good content.
It's like a perverse filter, selecting cat pics and crash gifs over really nice content that require more than a few seconds to digest.
The one who will fix this will actually revolutionize content selection and probably kill curation.
A New page might also need to be sorted differently, e.g. by putting items with zero count at the top, and ignoring time as with the front page.
Information costs nothing to replicate, but it's attention that is the great scarce commodity of the information age. I expect to see extreme escalation in the sophistication of methods for getting peoples' attention in the coming years.
The Lemming Economy follows a model where dozens upon dozens up near pointless applications are created in an attempt find just something that will get enough momentum to drive an ever increasing number of lemmings over the cliff (purchase). Upon succeeding more lemmings scramble to create copy-cats of the game to cash in on the stampede. There's no point except to try and generate cash out of they prevailing whims of the lemmings.
This model neither creates a viable business model (because you can't rely on quality equaling sales) nor useful software (because that doesn't drive the lemmings over the cliff).
Maybe Flappy Birds isn't horrible, I don't know. But the developer obviously didn't like getting caught in the stampede and all of a sudden getting exposed to the general population. I would have taken down the app, too.
And I can imagine that he'd lose all his money if he killed the account.
It seems that it definitely worked in that case (any many maybe more we don't know about). Are there some white hat review services, with people that actually download the app? Or is it all just black bot spammer'y?
From dying you can be back flying again in less than 4 seconds and be back at the first obstacle in less than 8 seconds. There are many games that should learn from that.
...and people play it for days, for charity!
1. Make Flappy Bird
However YouTubers had picked up Flappy Bird much earlier, again for the "so impossible" angle (in the same way that there were tonnes of reaction videos to the game Amnesia, though it was far less accessible so had a lower ceiling). For instance-
The linked article assumes bots during this period, but more likely it was simply that it started making the organic transit through the YouTubers.
(Dong is one of the retweeters)