Who let the chickens out?

Who would have ever thought that a bunch of flightless suicidal birds and fat green grunting pigs would have become such a big rage in 2010! The collision of chicken and bacon is creating new magic

Angry Birds is a smart phone based game that has become the top selling App from iPhone app store in 2010, and is almost equally successful in the Android Market. Together over 40Mn handsets across the world have Angry Birds installed on it. To that extent it’s possibly world’s biggest Mobile Phone based brand.

The game was re-crafted and recreated by a small Finnish based game company after they bought it from the original developers. The game has become such a big global success that EA Games is rumored to have paid $20Mn to buy out the game. The game has among other people British PM David Cameron, Comedian Conan O’Brien and talk show host Jimmy Fallon as its addicts.

The magic of Angry Birds is now going beyond mere smart phone, it’s now available as stuffed toys, as iPhone case, as comic books, there is a movie in the offing and the game is likely to become a multi platform based game. Never has anger been so profitable.

The issue is what is making the game so addictive? Despite an easy interface, and very cute sound effects and almost childlike skill levels, people just can’t get enough of the game? The game is nothing like COD, or even like Tetris.

2009 was the year of Farmville, and the game was built on a very different premise. It made players perform tasks that they could not in real world. The inbuilt reward system of the game allowed players to connect with likeminded people and start a conversation. From audience perspective it mimicked real world and gave an almost real world like conversational experience. Maybe that is why they are called social games. You play alone, but need other players to progress in the game

Angry Birds is the exact opposite of Farmville. It is a singular game, the inbuilt reward system is pedestrian, there are no great skills required and it’s definitely not social in nature. Here are a three possible reasons why it is doing so well

First it surprises the players. What looks like a very simple task is actually not as easy. The game sucks you in with passing level. The figures keep pressing the next level and the game keep the players enthralled. The addiction for the game comes from rock solid build quality of the game

Second it’s like a virus. The game keeps growing on the player. It almost becomes like the ear worm that you can’t get out of your head. It keeps buzzing inside your brain, and makes people hum along

And third is the almost instantaneous visual feedback that the game gives you. The players can make out their mistakes, correct every step and keep at it.

There are some interesting lessons that we can learn from Angry Birds.

First and foremost the small 2X3 touch screens can no longer be ignored.  They will more and more become the ecosystem from where new categories will emerge.

The second, we cannot bunch the potential consumer in fixed baskets and assume a linear growth curve. Social Games did not lead to a spate of social games. The next wave was an individual game. Who knows where the next wave would be?

Third, it does not matter, what platform you use to launch your brand, the brand must intrigue, be solid in its interface and have attributes that consumers can keep discovering.

Angry Birds are making people go crazy with joy. Who would have thought that!

Pitch Magazine, March 2011

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