I confess… I am an Angry Birds addict. For the benefit of readers who have not experienced this phenomenon, Angry Birds is a puzzle video game, in which players have to throw angry birds on pigs that have stolen the birds’ eggs. Since its launch in December 2009, over 12 million copies have been downloaded from the Apple App Store, making it the number one paid app in over 50 stores from Moldova to Singapore. More compelling is the fact that the total number of hours consumed by Angry Birds players worldwide is roughly 200 million minutes a day, which translates into 1.2 billion hours a year.
After contributing countless hours over the last three weeks to the Angry Birds phenomenon, I decided to reflect on what made this game so successful. My introspection revealed four key things that have made this game a blockbuster:
1.Relevance. The game is based on a strong human desire of ‘punish the wrong doer’. Most people can relate to this scenario where something that is rightfully theirs gets taken away. In real life, we might not have a chance to violently express our emotions, but the game gives us an opportunity to do so, thus making it relevant to people across ages and geographies.
2. Simplicity. Unlike other games that require a deeper understanding of the plot or game play instructions, Angry Birds is a very simple game to play, which allows throwing birds to destroy pigs. In addition, the game is set up to help players succeed rather than fail by giving them unlimited chances to clear a level. The simplicity and feel good factor makes this game attractive to non-gamers and significantly expands the target audience vs. traditional games that cater to gamers.
3.Right channel. The game was first launched in the Apple App Store, which gave it an ideal launch platform due to its popularity. In just three years post launch, the App Store has clocked over 15 billion downloads, making it the most popular app store by far. According to a recent 30-day study by Nielsen, gaming apps appear to be very popular for all mobile platforms with App Store users spending 14.7 hours playing games within the past 30 days. Given its low cost, positive reviews, and high ratings, the game climbed to the top of the rankings and went viral.
4. Sustainability. Since its successful launch, the Angry Birds game has transformed into a complete franchise. Not only has the game continued to add new features but also expanded to other platforms like Symbian, Android, Mac OS X, and Windows. The Angry Birds mnemonic, a frowning red bird, is distinctive and has allowed the franchise to expand into categories like plush toys, iPhone cases, and apparel that are sold through its official online shop.
Now for the big question: will the Angry Birds phenomenon stand the test of time? I think it will as long as it keeps reinventing its offering while adding value to its loyal user base. Another critical factor to the longevity of the franchise is how effectively it can create a community leveraging social media technologies. Time for me to sign off… need to start playing Angry Birds Rio!