Why is the Game Angry Birds so Popular?

addictive-angry-birdsThere are too many iPhone apps to keep track of. There are over 300,000 apps available on iTunes. When you include all the other smart phone apps available it’s head spinning. One of the most popular apps is the game Angry Birds. It’s #1 in many countries.

I recently got a gift of an iTouch (iPod with touch screen) that allows me to mess around with all the apps out there. I’m not cool enough for an iPhone yet. I’ll stick with my Samsung with a keypad thank you very much.

Angry Birds was a big reason I wanted an iTouch. I saw all my co-workers and friends playing the game and I wanted in on the action.

Now I’m hooked. I’ll play it while waiting for my wife to get ready. I’ll play it while waiting for my radiation treatments. I’ll even play it on the toilet.

That’s where the genius behind the game begins.


The game can be played in any language by almost any age group. My 4-year-old nephew loves playing the game. He isn’t very good at it, but that doesn’t matter. What does matter is that it’s so simple to play it doesn’t take a gaming wizard to have fun.

The difficulty does increase as you go along, but the rules are always the same. Sling a bird at some green pigs and try to kill them. The reason why this doesn’t get boring is because you want to see what the next screen looks like. You want to see how creative the developers can get.

There are hidden little tricks on every level. The fewer birds you need to kill the pigs, the more stars you receive. There is something cool about killing the pigs with one bird and receiving 3 stars instead of just one.


Too often we get caught up in trying to create an intricate marketing plan or we try to solve a problem with 15 people instead of 3, but we end up getting too confused and we miss the mark. You have to remember when you are creating something that you should make it so simple that anyone can use it for their problem.

Low Cost

The game only costs .99 cents. It’s less than a value menu fries. The barrier to buy it is so low that as soon as someone tells you how awesome the game is, you download it. Why even mess with the free version? Even for those frugal people who download the free version get hooked and don’t mind paying .99 cents to continue playing.

I know that many experts will tell you not to compete on price and this goes for many products and services, but something that can be replicated very easily it’s best to compete on price. If it’s meant for a mass audience, don’t try to charge too much. You’ll end up pissing people off who really wanted the product.

I would not have bought this game for $4.99. I just don’t want to pay $4.99 for a game that just numbs my mind. I can buy a cheap lunch with that kind of money.


Price is always a factor. If you can keep your costs low and charge less to entice more people to buy your product, then go for it.

Emotional Engagement

Many companies want to develop the emotional engagement that Angry Birds has created. When I first started playing on my brother’s iPhone it was all in fun, but then I watched the back story. The stupid pigs stole the sweet birds’ eggs to fry up in a pan. That’s just wrong. Those dumb pigs deserve to die.

Each time I pass a level I want to see how these pigs are protected and how I can destroy them. I’m not a violent person, but come on, you can’t just steal someone’s eggs.

The game is also very entertaining. The colors are well put together. You feel like you are in a loony tunes episode. The back drop is varied with cacti and a desert scene(that’s just the first level). Each main level has a different look.

I have a friend who has played countless hours on the game, trying to unlock 3 stars on every level. He refuses to quit.

People quickly get addicted to the game because it challenges them on different levels. When you can anchor into a wide range of emotions – anger, joy, frustration, and love – you keep people wanting more.


Whether you have clients, customers or a boss to make happy, you have to find a way to engage them on many levels. If all you do is work really hard and you don’t use these other emotional anchors, you’ll lose out on business and friendships.

Many Rewards

The next most compelling part of this game is the constant wins. Some levels are easy and it seems a waste of time. Then you get stuck on a level and you fail a few times and then bingo – you find the pig’s weak spot. You kill the pig and feel totally awesome.

Zappos does this too. Instead of promoting people on an 18 month scale, they took the same promotion track and broke it into 3 parts. So the person on the track to become call center manager gets 3 promotions along the way. Zappos understands that they need to show their people that they are doing well every step of the way.


You can create small wins for your clients, employees, and readers (if you are a blogger). You may not be able to give them more money, but recognizing their hard work must become a regular habit.

Your Turn

Have you played Angry Birds?

What is your favorite part of the game?

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Image courtesy of syphlix

11 thoughts on “Why is the Game Angry Birds so Popular?”

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Why is the Game Angry Birds so Popular? | Work Happy Now! -- Topsy.com

  2. Hi Karl,

    I’ve never heard of this game until now. The title made me wonder if it was somehow related to the Alfred Hitchcock novel. I must admit that I grimaced when I read the description of the game’s premise as it still legitimizes the use of violence and revenge to solve problems (in the case the birds dealing with having their eggs stolen). Since to me it was just “more of the same old, same old…” I also found myself doing “an inner and outer eye-roll”, to borrow one of my friend’s expressions.

    I get that you used the game as a jumping off point to relate certain aspects of the game to highlight certain principles related to marketing, pricing, being rewarded or getting feedback at regular intervals, etc. I wonder if there’s another take-home lesson that could be considered here. In some ways, this game is just “more of the same” but with slick new packaging. What might happen if you dared to be really innovative and created a game or product that offered a new paradigm and a much more effective approach to helping your clients solve their problems? Anyway, there’s a different take on it and food for thought.

  3. Oops. I should clarify, I didn’t mean “you” specifically in the previous paragraph–it was intended as a general you and should have been “one” rather than “you”. You specifically have created some wonderful, innovative and very positive approaches to dealing with workplace issues and helping readers to develop their superpowers. Thanks for all your great insights.

  4. Hi Sue, I wanted to also reply to this comment as well. We as humans are never going to escape certain facts about who we are. We like to be distracted from every day life. This has been going on since the dawn of time. Is Angry Birds the best use of our time? Probably not, but that’s ok in my opinion.

    I felt like there was a lot of valuable concepts in the game. Too often we try to get to point B without stopping to enjoy our work. The game is built for small wins to be celebrated and that’s a wonderful idea that more companies need to implement into their culture.

    As for a new paradigm of game making. That’s tough. The things that are popular are that way for a reason. Programmers develop games that are engaging and fun. That’s exactly what Angry Birds is. I think we need to make work more engaging and fun then there would be more creativity and joy.

  5. Hi Karl,

    Amen to making work more engaging and fun–and figuring out how to create healthy work environments that support joy, creativity and interactions based on genuine respect and collaboration.

  6. You Know karl…I had no idea what Angry Birds was until recently I sw my brother mental with it on his ipod touch. Like you I prefer my lovely nokia with a keypad and the game isn’t on the nokia…but just yesterday I downloaded it for my PC and am completely hooked. I love the simplicity of hte whole game…and most of all I get pretty cheezed of listening too those pig snort when i fail a level…arrgghh…another incentive to complete the level hmm 😉
    Lots of love,

  7. It’s amazing how quickly people can get addicted to virtual goods and virtual rewards … which is another reminder that sometimes the means gets confused for the ends.

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