How a Game About Birds Fighting Pigs Got A $1 Billion Valuation

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Growth Story is a weekly podcast that breaks down the strategy and tactics utilized by high growth companies, in a short case study format hosted by Scott D. Clary (@scottdclary)

For more business case studies, tactics and insights, make sure to subscribe to my youtube channel (youtube.com/c/scottdclary).

Welcome to success story, the most useful podcast in the world. I'm your host, Scott D clary. The success story podcast is part of the hub spot podcast network. The hub spot podcast network has incredible podcast like the Martec Podcast, hosted by Benjamin Shapiro. Each week the Martech podcast tells stories of world class marketers who use technology to create lasting success with their business and their careers. If you like any of these topics, you're going to like the MARTECH podcast. How Science is changing advertising, how to set up a crm so you actually use it. Private equities take on digital transformation by big social is focused on newsletters. If these are topics that resonate with you, go check out the MARTECH podcast wherever you get your podcast, or you can also go listen on hub spotcom slash podcast network. Today I'm going to break down the story of angry birds. How they started and failed fifty two different companies and games before they finally got a lukewarm success which they took. They ran...

...with the iterated. They got to over a billion dollar valuation be created an entire angry birds ecosystem. This is a start up case study. This is angry birds growth story. All right. So the story of angry birds. How they received multi billion dollar valuations, billions of dollars in revenue, hundreds of millions in down loads. What do they do? So the idea of birds on sling shots trying to save their eggs from green pigs may seem like a rather strange idea, and it really kind of is. But if you played any mobile games in the past decade, this idea is going to ring a bell. You recognize it. It's angry birds. It was the hugely popular game amongst players of all ages all interest but how did it actually achieve success with such an odd game concept, you're asking, how on Earth did they managed to actually grow at the rate they did? Well, today I'm...

...going to examine how this small Scandinavian company launched its APP focused on birds fighting pigs, and they grew it into a celebrated global franchise with over fifty million downloads and two hundred million minutes of daily Gameplay. So how did angry birds start out? So before angry birds, there was a web based game called crush the castle. The mechanics of this flash game served to be the inspiration for the Finnish company Rovio Entertainment. See, back in two thousand and nine, Rovio was in a tough spot financially. They were struggling. Despite challenges they were facing, they continue to release new APPS, new games. Angry birds was one of these games that created when they were really financially destitute, and it's hard to imagine that, but when they actually launched angry birds, it was not a hit. It is a very, very apathetic response from the market towards the game. So they had to take this game that was released. They had no money, it wasn't that popular and they had to...

...that to push it that the market. It had to grow it to the point where it was featured on the APP store. And when it was featured on the APP store, that's when it became a quote unquote, overnight success. The game got into multiple top mobile APP spots across different countries for a significant period of time. But that was only after all the work that they did behind the scenes. Of course, once the game was featured in the APP store years later, that was a flywheel. That was a domino effect in Rovio's favor and millions and millions of people globally download of this game. But how did they get there. So it may seem that just appearing in the APP store and being featured in a APP spot a top download. It may seem that that's simply luck and that their overnight success allowed them to take angry birds from just this initial concept and released to a global phenomenon. But that was far from the actual case. First of all, angry birds was not their first game. So Robo was creating tons of games. The company...

...had to work continuously for success they were able to enjoy with the angry birds franchise. And, just to put in perspective, by the time Rovio released angry birds it was the company's fifty second game release. The studio persevered in the face of the lukewarm reception that angry birds received. It was their severance that push the game to achieve that success. So at its core, what was angry birds will at its core, angry birds was a simple concept done well. The objective is straightforward. Use a sling shot to flame birds to destroy pigs buildings. The story is also an easy one to follow. The pigs took the birds eggs, so the birds want to get those eggs back. The simplicity of the concept, the jovial, nonchalantinists almost rudimentary feel of this game's entire storyline just made it light and easy to dive into. And because it had a strong baseline and had this really strong MVP, so to speak, when they released new iterations, when they released uppdates, improvements,...

...they actually didn't have to deviate too far from that original concept, ensuring that angry birds could keep the original charm without becoming stale, so they would keep the users engaged. But of course, to grow a game you need money to invest in marketing and talent. So part of the issues that game developers have is how do I make a creative monetization strategy so that it can fund the growth, because when everybody launches a game, even if it's a great game, you still have to put it out into the world, you still have to market it. With any business, you still have to put some money behind that marketing strategy that will allow people to discover it. So if you don't have money, it's really hard to get your game in front of people. So they, Rovio, came up with a very creative mark getting strategy. With such a simple game concept, rovio had to think of clever ways to monetize the game. Angry birds had monetization tactics, that say, they had to monifization tactics at upfront payments and they had in game payments. So well, users only played the game for short bursts of time. So...

...think about you. You go into an APP when you're bored, when you're, you know, maybe at a break at work or you're emitting classes at school, and you play a couple levels and you shut it off and you go about your day. So rovio understood the behaviors of the average angry birds player and they were playing it for short bursts of time, but they were playing it every single day. So rovial monopolize on this pattern and made a business model that allowed players to purchase items or advantages to difficult situations that allowed them to make that short period of game time, of playtime, much more lucrative and rewarding. So if you only were able to play for a few minutes a day, there would be time bound restrictions that you could actually purchased to overcome, as well as other things that would inject some added benefit into the game to help you overcome obstacles a little bit quicker than if you just had to play through them without spending any money. So the game encourage players to continue playing well, being tempted to purchase advantages that would propel them through...

...the game with a greater ease. Rovo also implement a content that could be accessed by paid users only, so if a player wanted to get more angry birds content, they had to pay up. This created an entire virtual economy to support the game, and the virtual economy was smart because it obviously monetize. So now Roveo is making money, but also because people invest into the game and it's a strategy that not only makes the company money, but once the players have invested money, now it's increasing the playtime, the retention because there's now a financial incentive for the players to log into the APP. So, although it really benefited their North Star magic or their key KPI, which would be revenue goals, it also improved all their other metrics of Kpis, like playtime, active usage, minutes spent in the APP, so on and so forth. Rovio also realize that the community that they had first brought into the game was giving them feedback, that there was something special about the world they created. Remember the very simple world. But you fell in love with...

...these little characters and Rovio didn't just say okay, we have a great storyline. We hit gold with this storyline. That's so simple. It's a great video game. Let's see what else we can do with these characters. So when the game got really popular, they capitalize on the appeal for their characters and what they did was they built an ecosystem. They built in sillery products. They were angry bird products that had nothing to do with the video game, just to allow people to get angry birds outside of that game. So they built an entire franchise around angry birds. The franchise branched out from the simple mobile game into multimillion dollar brand deals, a TV series and even a blockbuster movie. They realize that of course you're great revenue opportunities. But when they created that ecosystem, when they created that Brandon, they blew it out into all these different assets. Will now you are creating this ecosystem that reinforces...

...your core product and it gives those most loyal fans of that core product more outlets to consume. So yes, it is a little risky to go outside your core competency, but if you start to see that what you've created is resonating with the market to the point where they're becoming super fans. Sometimes it's not the worst idea to see what else you can create for that community and listen to your community that you have created, because they're going to point you in the direction of where they want you to go as a company and other things they want you to create. Lastly, they didn't just market angry birds by building out this incredible brand and going into mainstream media. They also focus heavily on APP store optimization, something that many developers do not think about when their first putting out a game into the world or product into the world, and this is a lesson that can be carried over into, for example, optimization across your social media. When you're putting up content on social media for a startup or a business, it can be thought of as well. If I'm going to be taking a product to market, have I optimized the content...

...on my website? Wherever the consumer or the audience interacts with your content, have you optimized that so that when they hit that landing page, they hit that APP store download page, are is there a higher chance of them converting? Are they getting the information they need? Are you basically removing any friction in them using your product, service or, in angry bird's case, the game? So, to ensure the angry birds success, roveo optimize their content for the APP store, giving their game the best possible chance of going viral. So a catchy image instantly capturing the consumers attention, with a heavily keyword optimized description allowed the user to get a sense of what the APP was, what the game was, before they downloaded it, which means that when they did download it, they knew exactly what they were getting. They were leaving good reviews, they're leaving positive reviews. You weren't tricking them into trying your APP and they were getting something different than what they thought they were getting.

It was all very transparent and optimized with the end user or the Gamer in mind. So we just recap on some of those points. They had a creative monetization strategy. It was a very simple concept done well. They focused on building out a franchise and an ecosystem and they also optimized and focused, were hyper focused on the customer experience or the user experience. Those four things allowed them to be a quote on quote overnight success, along with the fact that they just wouldn't give up. Remember fifty two games before they found one that really hit home. Now rovio has produced some of the most impressive growth statistics in the industry. Angry birds has netted in two thousand and twelve twelve billion dollars in revenue. In two thousand and seventeen and netted fifty billion dollars in revenue, and that was years ago. So you can only imagine what they've achieved to date. They have over three point seven billion total downloads.

The success of anger birds was a culmination of marketing, optimization, simplicity and perseverance for items that, if copy and paste it to many different industries, could yield success across countless verticals and industries. This is not just something that works for Mobile APPs. Some of these lessons can be applied. All these lessons can be applied to other industries, to other business ideas. So the next time you're thinking your startup idea is stupid, just remember after fifty two tries, a video game that pitted birds against pigs netted rova billions of dollars and made them a household name in the mobile APP and gaming industry, and always remember that an overnight success is never an overnight success.

In-Stream Audio Search

NEW

Search across all episodes within this podcast

Episodes (20)