Be as Rich as Rovio
The “motherfuckin’” Angry Birds.
For a while (a “big while”) I hated Angry Birds. Because of the fuss it was causing, and which I didn’t understand. I mean, I looked at the game, and I thought “Meh, it has cool characters and all, but there is nothing special about it”.
When you look at its core gameplay (pretty much shooting “stuff” into “stuff”), you can think of A LOT of different games previous to Angry Birds which work the same way. In fact, some of them even had some “twists” which made them more appealing:
- Bang! Bang! For Windows 3.0 (which I found latter was also inspired by other game – SHOOT) – This two-player artillery game is an old classic where you pretty much define the angle and velocity of your shot to destroy the opponent. Add a sling to define the angle and velocity, and what do you get?
- Fragger – A Flash games (latter ported to iOS) where you throw grenades to destroy enemies. Grenades, flying birds, potato, potato (read the potato potato with different pronunciations for this sentence to work), who’s counting, right?
- Crush the Castle – A flash games. Look at it. Just look at it. Do you see the similarities?
- Worms – I won’t even explain this game. If you don’t know worms, you deserve an exploding sheep! The game is more complex, funnier, and with best “aim and shoot” mechanics.
These are only some examples with some similarities to Angry Birds which came out sooner, and (in Worms’ case) were better than Angry Birds. That’s why I did not understand all the madness. When it comes to App Store winners, I understood why Flight Control was “all that” back in the day. The store was still “young” and the game seemed “fresh” enough to motivate the players. Angry Birds’ success puzzled me.
“Where do we come from?”. “Where are we going?”. “What’s the meaning of life?”. “What the hell is all the fuss with those birds?. I decided to start with the latter. The true is that as a “wanna-be” developer for the mobile gaming industry (or any gaming industry, that is), I really wanted to understand what made people love Angry Birds. Without too much explanation, this is what I found:
- The overall look (characters, levels, interfaces)
- The comic factor (movies, sounds, music, characters)
- The extreme simplicity (anyone can play it: 4 or 104 years old)
- The increasing difficulty (levels get tougher, and getting maximum rating in every level is really REALLY tough)
- The extraordinary competence of the development/design team (every aspect of the game goes well together, and everything works perfectly on every devices it plays, without any bug).
- Rovio was lucky (there are other games with these characteristics which were lost in the App Store’s new games’ flood).
To be really honest, after further consideration, I was happy I’m an agnostic. Otherwise, and regarding Angry Birds, the sin of envy would condemn me to eternal damnation. And my opinion is that when it comes to deadly sins-inflicted eternal damnation, it is always better to go with lust. So I stopped being jealous about the game, and gave it the credit it deserves. If nothing else, it made a small company get the needed money that allows them to grow. Let’s just hope they use it wisely.
Nowadays, when it comes to Rovio, the only think I cannot understand is the Angry Birds’ dress the wife of the Chief of Marketing’s Office wore at a formal event at the Finnish Palace. That’s just dumb!
Returning to the game’s success, I stumbled upon a YouTube’s video where the guy who had the idea of making a game about bird throwing, and the guy who marketed the hell out of it share their experiences, some advices, confirm some of my thoughts about the game, and a lot more. It is a good “backstage pass” to a successful title’s creation process, since the original idea to the time where it gets millions’ revenue. You should watch it. Then get rich. Then, pay me a beer. Or a brewery!