The psychology, sociology and addiction behind the success of Angry Birds

Posted In Apps - By Kim On Thursday, September 15th, 2011 With 0 Comments

Angry Birds. Two words that have done more for the mobile gaming industry than any other pair I can think of. This one game single-handedly proved that games can be engaging, beautiful and fun on your mobile phone. Millions of people have played it, bought the t-shirt and even ordered one of the plush toys. Millions of Dollars have been made by the Finnish app development house Rovio that came up with the innovative game, which is now valued at over $1 billion. And millions more have been invested in companies promising their investors that they’d be producing the world’s next Angry Birds.

But actually the value of Angry Birds to the app development environment stretches beyond just gaming. Angry Birds has proved that mobile apps can (and should) be sold at a substantial profit, generating revenues on a par with any other internet startup, if not more so. Angry Birds is the poster child of mobile app monetisation, proving that dreams of a $0.99 app selling to millions of users can indeed come true.

So what made this one such a winner? Mobile games existed for years before Angry Birds came along, so what did they do differently and what caused the relatively simple game to strike such a major chord with mobile users across the globe? A mix of psychology, sociology and addiction, components of which have been nicely illustrated in an infographic by AYTM).

According to the infographic, some of the highlights on Rovio’s road to success include:

  • 300 million downloads of Angry Birds (so far)
  • Angry Birds is played for 200 million minutes per day (that’s 16 years of playing every hour of every day)
  • Men are 35% more likely to buy the paid version of Angry Birds than their female counterparts
  • 41% of users play on Android, 33% on iPod Touch, 32% on iPhone, 15% on iPad, 6% on Mac and a whopping 25% on PC
  • 58% of users find themselves in a better mood after playing Angry Birds, with 53% of users feeling ‘joy’
  • 82% of users feel some form of addiction to the game
  • Michael Chorost Ph.D. explains that Angry Birds is addictive because: (1) it’s simple, with no learning curve to get going; (2) it’s rewarding – we get a primitive pleasure in blowing stuff up; (2) it’s realistic – the physics of the game are just as you’d expect; and (4) it’s funny – the sounds, laughter and backflips are amusing
  • The anticipation of reward puts your dopamine system into overdrive, which makes you compulsively want to know what will happen when you fling the next bird
  • 12% of people who have played Angry Birds more than 25 times have deleted the game to prevent themselves from playing it anymore

About - She isn't easily won over by the latest and greatest, but when she gets her hands on a phone that performs like a workhorse while delivering useful features and cool aesthetics, Kim's ready to wear her fingers down. Right now she's using a Blackberry Bold 9700.

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