Interview with the creators of Angry Birds (part 2)

We offer the second part of an exclusive interview with Ville HEIJARI, Vice President of Rovio Ent. Read the beginning here.


Do you think the success of Angry Birds was predetermined or was it the result of a successful promotion, circumstances, etc.? In any business, time is always important.

When the game was released at the end of 2009, there was just an “explosion” in the smartphone market. We became successful just at the time when Apple and Google began to gain popularity dramatically. It was even funny:  every two weeks they published press releases: “we have activated 225 thousand devices”, “and we have activated 230 thousand devices!” Well, when you have a game on the top line of the tops, and hundreds of thousands of people come into the store every week and think about what they would download… This is a very good position. Therefore, yes, circumstances played a role, and success always leads to even greater success.

But on the other hand, this does not explain why people are so “stuck” on Angry Birds. It would be too easy to explain everything with just the right time and place. Why then does the game not come out of the top? You can invest as much money as you want in promotion. Take, for example, the App Store. If you are launching a new game, you can make a cross-promotion and, ultimately, invest more money in advertising than you earn from downloads. If the game is “so-so”, it will lose ground very quickly. In addition, a lot depends on the little things.

For example, an icon. Before releasing your app, you need to look at all the App Store icons to see the whole picture. And try to insert your own there. How will she look there?

At the end of 2009, we looked and saw that everything together creates some kind of blue background. That’s why we took and made our icon red! Such details are very important.

It’s the same with the characters: there are so many casual game characters with happy faces and smiles. And we took and made angry birds.

Admit it, how did you come up with these ideas back then, in 2009? Aliens? Knowledge of the ancients?))Experience.

6-7 years in mobile development (we used to make java games). During this time, you will learn a lot about distribution, marketing, etc. For example, when launching a new game, you already know where to spread the news about it and how to launch word of mouth. Serious publications will not fall for the news that another game has been released, but the fact that 10 million people have already downloaded it may seem interesting to them. 

Besides, Angry Birds is not our first iOS game. Before her, there was Totomi, which turned out to be too difficult for a casual game. We gained experience and took into account our mistakes.

You should always learn from your own and other people’s experience. If you made a game that turned out to be too difficult, make the next one easier. If you have made an icon that you can’t even find yourself in this forest of other people’s icons, think about what you can change. Be sure to make post-mortems for your games: okay, we made the perfect game – why didn’t it start selling? If you don’t learn from your mistakes, it’s like banging your head against a wall. It is necessary to think about what works and what does not, what is happening in the market, etc. Somehow.

By no means do I want to say that we knew all this, because we are the smartest – this is not so..

Well, why – apparently you are the smartest!))Thank you!))

If anything, I didn’t say it. )) It’s all about experience.

Angry Birds is published on various mobile platforms. Do you think the audiences are different?It seems to me that the audiences are about the same.

The difference is rather in the patterns of behavior.

For example, can you name an Android app that would have a million paid downloads? Probably, there are no such people. On some platforms, people expect free content. But from the point of view of gender / age, there is not much difference.

The App Store is the most mature market. There are users there who know what they want and who are willing to buy. Other platforms are even less developed in this regard.

Android is constantly evolving, there are some new features. This is not to say that Android cannot be monetized – it is not, but it is still a much less mature market.

What about Windows Phone?I personally have high expectations associated with him.

It seems to me that Microsoft expects a big growth as soon as Windows Phone appears on Nokia. Now, of course, there are manufacturers of smartphones with Windows Phone – HTC, Samsung, but the same Samsung has about one with Windows for 12 android devices. Nokia can greatly change the current situation in the market.  I assume that the first results will be seen in the second half of next year..

What advice could you give to other developers?I have already talked a lot about the final “polishing” and details.

I would also advise you to look wider – to think not only about games as such, but to think about entertainment in general. Now everyone is talking about games as separate “units”, but they are increasingly starting to compete with other types of entertainment. The total time that people spend playing the same Angry Birds is comparable to the time they spend in front of the TV in prime time. And we need to think: we have already attracted the attention of these people, how can we keep it? You can, of course, create another game, but what if you offer them something else?

You know, just a couple of years ago, almost no one used the word “application” in relation to programs. And now everyone says “application”, app, application. What will happen in 5 years? No one knows.

Do you think anyone will be able to repeat the success of Angry Birds?That’s a good question.

Of course, successful good games appear and will appear, and they can bypass Angry Birds in the tops. But I think that Angry Birds became the first really strong brand, became, in fact, a cultural phenomenon – and in this sense it is difficult to repeat the success. But if we are talking about mobile entertainment in general, we need to look wider – perhaps something new will appear, which no one suspects yet.


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