Whats Dopamine got to do with Angry Birds?

18 Oct

The Angry Birds and Star Wars universes will collide and it seems to have generated quite a buzz online but what is the real reason behind the success of Angry Birds?

At the functional level, Angry Birds was extremely simple to play yet challenging. It had various free versions and is available across platforms.

Here are three factors that I think sums up the real reasons for the game’s success.

1. Consistency

A brand is an unchanging idea. A brand can extend the product range or enter new categories as long as it does not lose or change the idea that drives the brand.

What can and should change is the presentation of the brand. Franchises like James Bond have been successful at managing both parts of the brand.

That is exactly what Angry Birds  got right.

Angry birds has released over three versions of the original game and each version has about 30-50 levels but the brand experience has been consistent.

The characters remain consistent, the gameplay remains consistent and game outcomes are consistent.

Many complain that the game is too simplistic and lacks originality but Rovio has not changed their approach and has stuck to a consistent experience across launches.

2. A strong brand character

The ‘angry bird’ character was developed before the actual game and the game play was molded around it.

Kids or adults do not want to play a character of a stereotypical bird who chirps and flies around. Mothers do not want kids to play games with malevolent characters.

This game bridged that gap by introducing a character that was angry because something of his was taken away but at the same time was not malevolent. A lot of people could relate to this.

Most brands start out by trying to find a market need and then trying to fill it. Most successful brands first clearly define what they stand for and what is unique about them and then find like-minded customers who share the same beliefs.

3. Element of surprise

Our brains are more responsive to deviations from our expectations than to events that are as anticipated. Our brain’s reward system releases an above base-line amount of Dopamine, when we receive a reward (e.g. a product, service, experience, etc.) that was significantly better than expected (source: http://www.brandingwithbrains.org)

Rovio capitalized on this phenomenon by introducing bonus levels, by unlocking birds with better and unexpected capabilities. The Star Wars adventure is the perfect example of them enthralling fans with the element of surprise.

Angry Birds Live

Was Angry Birds the only game to get all of this right?

Not at all!

Lego is one of the most successful cult toy products out there. Martin Lindstorm actually attributes his love for branding to Lego!

PacMan and Mario Bros are two other games, which have been around for many years and have also been successful in merchandise.

All of them are successful but Angry Birds has been successful in integrating the online and offline model to build a successful franchise.

Will Angry Birds Star Wars be a success?

Given the nature of the gaming segment, it seemed unlikely that the game would remain as popular as it was if they did not do something dramatically different.

This game might just be the shot that the franchise needed to reboot itself.

What do you think?


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