The saga of Flappy Bird, the notoriously frustrating game by .GEARS that rocketed to the top of iTunes last month, has come to a mysterious end.
On Saturday, Dong Nguyen, the game’s developer, tweeted that he planned to remove Flappy Bird from iTunes. “I am sorry 'Flappy Bird' users,” Dong wrote on Twitter, “22 hours from now, I will take 'Flappy Bird' down. I cannot take this anymore.”
The game has since been pulled from iTunes.
Dong’s tweet may be a reference to speculation that bots were used to artificially boost the game’s download ranking in iTunes.
For months after Flappy Bird was released in May, it performed poorly. Then, in November, it, and several other .GEARS titles began to climb the ranks of the iTunes store. On January 17, Flappy Bird reached number one.
At its peak, the game was reportedly pulling in as much as $50,000 a day in ad revenue, according to Time.
The sudden success led app designer Carter Thomas to speculate in a blog post that Flappy Bird’s sudden rise rang false. “ I hate to say it,” he wrote, “but it looks really similar to bot activity.”
Several news outlets, including Newsweek, reported Thomas’ theory. When asked via Twitter whether the game stats were manipulated, Dong commented, “ “If I did fake it, should Apple let it live for months[?]”
“It’s the first time in the app store that I’ve ever seen this and, if it turns out that it’s just a wildly viral game like Gangnam Style, my hat is off to Mr. Nguyen,” Thomas wrote. “But….things still look weird.”
Since Thomas called the game’s ranking into question, Dong has found his fare share of supporters.
His comment to Newsweek on Twitter, “I think press should give my game some peace,” was retweeted by fans. As was this comment by a frustrated supporter: “This is why people think [reporters] are pains in the ass.”
As first reported by CNN, since being removed from iTunes, Flappy Bird has appeared for sale on eBay. Smartphones with the game installed are priced as high as $5,000 on the auction site. An iPod Touch 5 equipped with the game is being offered for $6,000. It has two bidders.
So why did Dong pull the game?
His explanations on Twitter have been cryptic. Dong tweeted that his decision to stop selling the game had nothing to do with “legal issues,” seemingly indicating that Apple did not compel him to stop selling the game. “I just can’t keep it anymore.”
Apple did not immediately return a request for comment on this story.
At least according to Dong’s Twitter, it appears other factors besides media attention were behind his decision to stop selling the game. He wrote that people were “overusing” the game. “I can call 'Flappy Bird' is a success of mine,” Dong added. “But it also ruins my simple life. So now I hate it.”