Saturday, September 3, 2011

Learnings from Angry Birds

Angry birds, casual smartphone game developed by Rovio Mobile has created a history.


Conceptualized in December 2009 and developed with mere Euro 100,000, it has achieved the impossible. The total downloads have exceeded 300 million and still counting. Angry Birds does not just have fans, it has addicts.


The addiction has spilled over in merchandising, which is even more lucrative. There are T-shirts, bags, caps, cell phone covers, pencils, erasers, compass boxes and innumerable other types of items with Angry Birds branding on it. One gets a feeling that this is just the beginning. Just imagine, for total human population of 6 billion, angry birds has achieved roughly 5% penetration of human race. Incredible, isn’t it? I am not aware of any other product or service which has achieved such a feat in 18 months flat.


There are many entertainment options available, no single option can dominate so much unless they have a strong value proposition. Unless the product or service creates deep emotional connection with the target segment achieving this feat is impossible.


What have they done right?




  1. Simple and Easy: The first thing that hits you while playing this game is it is incredibly simple and easy. This is not a usual combination.  My 3 year old son cleared first level in this game in 10 minutes flat.  Our personal and work life is getting more and more complicated by the day. A working executive or a tired housewife needs an active entertainment which is simple to use, which has very few rules that are easy to follow. Angry bird offers just that in an easy to use interface.

  2. Legitimate way to vent out frustration: Frustrations with work, colleagues, bosses, clients, spouses, kids, girlfriends/ boyfriends, traffic, delayed flights/ trains, weather drives us crazy. We feel like breaking the glass on boss’s table or feel like throwing the glass after an argument or honk loudly or hit that car who got in front by breaking lane discipline. But we don’t do any of this. We present a pleasant face, smile and store all our frustration inside. Angry Birds provides a legitimate way of venting out the frustration by destroying large structure, killing pigs and monkeys and feel happy about it secretly.

  3. Challenge in installments that keeps you interested: We don’t like challenges or problems that are too big to solve. If I was told that there are 1,000+ levels in Angry Birds I would never start playing it in first place. The game breaks the total challenge in smaller, digestible steps and approaches them one by one. I get an opportunity to savor my victory and feel happy about it. The same is true with real life, we like to break a large project in smaller milestone and feel happy that we have achieved them on time.  Lack of challenge also makes you bored and disinterested. Angry Birds takes care of that too once you complete a level, you get special birds, better abilities and bigger challenges that keep you interested in the game.

  4. Instant Gratification: All of us lack patience to wait for a big pot of gold after a long painful journey. We want everything here and now. We are much more likely to take pay increase in our monthly salary rather than big far bonus at the end of the year, if we had a choice. Each game of Angry Birds gives me star ratings and also tells me my global rank after every game. I remember the surge of motivation I got when my rank went up from 3 million to 1 million in a span of 2 games. This is no achievement to feel happy about, if you really ask me but it keeps me interested in the game and makes gives me a gratification I need.

  5. Comical entertainment: Angry Birds is not just a game, it’s an entertainment. The appearance of birds, their sounds, and the music are all the elements that are quite entertaining. That adds to the whole experience. My 3 year old son, another fan of Angry Birds, simply switches on the Angry Birds music for a dance.


The popularity of Angry Birds may fade away, new games may become more popular but fans of Angry Birds would always cherish the emotional connection the game has made with them and played a part in their daily lives.

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