|Ten years ago, Rovio started a movement: it involved a bunch of birds furious with green pigs stealing their eggs. It was a simpler time back then / Photo by: HTM via Wikimedia Commons|
Ten years ago, Rovio started a movement: it involved a bunch of birds furious with green pigs stealing their eggs. It was a simpler time back then. Mobile games were highly experimental as it was a medium that wasn’t as explored by game developers just yet. Publishing cycles were shorter and there were free-to-play apps that worked like a test run for any interested customer.
These days, one peep into an App Store or a Google Play store will expose you to games of every kind, in every genre you can think of, and any game design you can possibly imagine and even not imagine. Angry Birds’ debut in 2009 heralded that change; Rovio proved that mobile gaming will have a bright future in the gaming world.
What Made Angry Birds (and Games That Followed its Footsteps) Such a Hit
Angry Birds’ debut was simple—it looked like an unassuming and yet highly entertaining game. Its formula was simple: set up a trajectory you feel will get you the best chance at hitting a pig, the enemy, and that was it. And Rovio stuck to that formula even as they released other variations of the game. It’s that same faith that they had for the game that made it popular.
Before mobile games were in, writer James Batchelor of Games Industry.biz said that Angry Birds was one of the first games that were clearly ahead of its time. Its simplicity was actually because of a deeper understanding of the developers of this new game medium. It was devoid of control pads or buttons, and Angry Birds took advantage of that setup in the best way.
App Annie’s Donny Kristianto, market insights manager, described the game as “one of the first games in mobile to truly leverage the possibilities of smartphones with touch and gesture control that translated into instant feedback, innovative yet simple gameplay. Rovio built on this success with content updates and multiple titles with different themes.”
This was so effective that by 2011, other additions to the game—bosses, different settings—were so easily accepted by fans. It was also in 2011 that Angry Birds “held four positions in the Top Ten across both iOS and Google Play.”
|Angry Birds’ debut was simple—it looked like an unassuming and yet highly entertaining game. Its formula was simple: set up a trajectory you feel will get you the best chance at hitting a pig, the enemy, and that was it / Photo by: BagoGames via Flickr|
That was the humble beginning of Rovio, but beyond mobile games, the success of Angry Birds also let them expand the franchise. Recently, they’ve released a fully animated movie, which was actually quite enjoyable, and have contracts with Netflix and YouTube with their animation series. The series has racked up some 10 billion views.
On top of that, they also have “location-based experiences, such as theme parks and play areas.”
Before Angry Birds, no one even thought any of this was possible. Rovio practically built an empire around a bunch of simple and very addicting games.
CEO Kati Levoranta shared with Games Industry.biz: “We transformed from a gaming company into a games-first entertainment company. We kind of showed the way that a global brand can be born out of mobile games. A mobile gaming brand is not limited to just mobile games; you can make different forms of entertainment with that brand.”
A Decade of Success
For a little context on just how successful the game still is (owing to the fact that it was among some of the first mobile games onto the scene), Angry Birds now boasts about 4.5 billion downloads, according to GSM Arena, an online resource for GSM handset information. It has also spread through other platforms such as consoles, and smart TV sticks. Its merch is alive and well, too, especially now that there’s even a film attached to it.
Rovio still continues to value user interest in their works. As explained by chief marketing officer Ville Heijari for Pocket Gamer.biz, Rovio wants to keep in touch with their audiences because Angry Birds did have quite the seismic impact on mobile gaming.
“We often get messages from players about how they or someone they know has been impacted by our brand. So, we try to share those stories as much as possible and give back to the players when we can,” Heijari said.
Even though there is more competition now, there seems to be no slowing down for the franchise. When asked about how Rovio keeps the franchise alive, Heijari said the secret of the brand strength was thanks to “live ops teams, who are consistently releasing fun content at such a relentless pace.”
It’s a fast-paced world after all, and the attention span of users and players vary from game to game.
Finally, when asked about the franchise’s biggest achievement, Hejiari said the brand also stuck to the humor that Angry Birds was most known for, its playfulness, which is one of the first things that attracted players to the game as a brand.
“I’m also proud that we’ve managed to evolve that trademark irreverence and playful humor you see in everything Angry Birds, whether games, licensed products, or our content.”
With the game’s continued success, we can only guess that those angry birds aren’t as angry anymore.