Who would have thought a few birds, a catapult and pigs would make for a global phenomenon!
What flies, comes in different sizes, hates pigs and is perennially angry? The Angry Birds, of course! Take aim at precariously propped constructions where the pigs that stole their eggs hide: the gameplay can't get any simpler. But why is it such a phenomenon? What makes it an addictive entertainment for the smart phone generation? NXg tries to get Henri Holm, Senior VP, Rovio Entertainment – the creators of Angry Birds – to spill the beans.
What was the brief you worked on while creating Angry Birds?
The company, started in 2003, had already designed 51 games before Angry Birds. Backed by that experience and a brief for a simple, fun, family game, we came up with Angry Birds. We looked into all details including how much people enjoyed seeing the structures in the game fall, which formed the crux of the game. So, it was not an “overnight success” like most people say; it took us eight years to get from a small group of 12 people to a 300-strong company.
There are a number of debates about what makes Angry Birds so successful. What, according to you, are its success factors?
The detailing, simplicity, high quality and audience/fan engagement through constant updates, mailers, feedback and newer versions.
Do you think Angry Birds would have been successful before the age of the Internet?
I don't think it would have been possible to replicate its success.
What makes marketing a game different from other consumer products?
We have to look at it as a service; an experience that we offer the buyers. And we also don't look at them as buyers or customers but more as fans. It is usually only artists and celebrities who have fans and, in some cases, very engaged brands. It is the communication between those two that keep them going and it is important for us, as experience providers, to recognise that authentic communication link.
How do you do that?
Let me give you an anecdote about our fan; five-year-old fan Ethan from whom we received a fan mail. Since he didn't know how to write, he had drawn something and the accompanying letter written by his mom explained that it was Ethan's suggestion for a level in the game. We thought it was a pretty good structure and would make for an interesting level and have since incorporated it in the game. We have even named that level after Ethan. It is to show all our fans that anyone can be Ethan. If you ask all great brands “what's your story?”; they'll all have one but each one will be different.
There are fake Angry Birds merchandise sold everywhere. Would you take that as a compliment?
No. It's more a cause of concern as we do not know the quality of those products sold in our name. But at the same time, it is a sign of the brand's success.
Finally, considering how popular Angry Birds is in India, when do we see the launch of an Indian version, say Angry Birds – Autorickshaw edition?
(Laughs!) We have been pondering over this idea. Now I think we will seriously look into it. Maybe we will put up a query on our Facebook page asking our fans, ‘so what do you think of the idea of an Indian version of Angry Birds?' and gauge their response. Now that's our instant market survey!
Did you know?
While their Classic version took 167 days to reach 10, 000, 000 downloads, Space achieved that in just three days!
The game has 26 million daily active players.
3,00,000,000 minutes of Angry Birds is played everyday.
Age no bar: Angry Birds finds maximum patronage from the age group 35 – 54 with 31 per cent, followed by 25 – 34 years olds at 28 per cent, 13 – 17 year olds at 24 per cent and 18 – 24 year olds at 16 per cent.