We still don’t really know how Flappy Bird went from obscurity to celebrity seemingly overnight – the number of theories I’ve read this week would put the JFK conspiracy to shame.  Beyond that, though, there’s been another question we’ve quietly been pondering. Has the game’s instant notoriety translated into any real cash for creator Dong Nguyen?

It has, it turns out. And it’s a lot.

 

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In an interview with The Verge, Nguyen has revealed that the game has been raking in $50,000 a day. How? Advertising. Just… advertising. Flappy Bird has no in-app purchases, no premium version – it doesn’t even cross-promote the developers other titles. Every single dollar that Flappy Bird has made has come from classic, old school, relatively crude in-app advertising.

And it’s working really well.

Before you get too happy for Nguyen, the folks at Kotaku have a rather sobering observation about this: if he can keep things up at this pace, Nguyen stands to make $18 million a year from a game that seems to have “borrowed” its assets pretty liberally from Nintendo’s Mario franchise. The pipes players navigate are a dead ringer for the pipes in the Mushroom Kingdom, and even the “you’ve earned a point!” sounds exactly like the sound you hear in Mario games when you collect a coin.

With this kind of money at stake, is it time for Nintendo to lawyer up?