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

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Here is your weekly email with a business growth case study, plus some things I’m working on and thinking about!


📈 Case Study: How a Game About Birds Got A $1 Billion Valuation

The idea of birds on slingshots trying to save their eggs from green pigs may seem rather strange, but if you’ve played any mobile games in the past decade, this idea is sure to ring a bell.

The Angry Birds games were hugely popular among players of all ages and interests. But with such an odd game concept, how on earth did they manage to become this successful?

Today, we'll be examining how a small Scandinavian company launched its app about birds fighting pigs into a celebrated global franchise with over 50 million downloads and 200 million minutes of daily game play.

How Angry Birds Started Out

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. 

Back in 2009, Rovio was in a tough spot financially and struggling to improve their situation. Despite the challenges they faced, Rovio persevered in developing games. Angry Birds was among them. 

It’s hard to imagine now, but the game actually encountered a less than stellar response upon release. 

Once featured on the App Store, however, it became an overnight success. The game got into multiple top mobile app spots across different countries for a significant period of time. 

Once it became a massive hit, Angry Birds continued to garner popularity, causing a domino effect in Rovio’s favor.

Continued Perseverance

It might seem to users that Rovio simply got lucky with their overnight success of Angry Birds, but this wasn’t their first game–far from it. The company had to work continuously for the success they were able to enjoy with the Angry Birds franchise.

Even while they were in deep financial trouble, the company continued to produce games, pumping out apps in the hopes of eventually releasing a crowd favorite. 

By the time Rovio released Angry Birds, it was the company’s 52nd game release. The studio persevered in the face of a lukewarm reception; it was their perseverance that pushed the game to achieve success. 

A Simple Concept Done Well

At its core, Angry Birds is just a simple game. The objective is straightforward: use the slingshot to fling the birds to destroy the pigs’ buildings. The story is also an easy one to follow: the pigs took the birds’ eggs, so the birds want to get their eggs back.

This simplicity no doubt contributed to the game’s success. Rovio was able to use a concept that worked well for portable devices. Plus, when introducing new mechanics, they didn’t need to deviate too much from the original concept, ensuring Angry Birds kept its original charm without becoming stale.

Creative Monetization Strategy

With such a simple game concept, Rovio had to think of clever ways to monetize the game. Angry Birds had two monetization tactics: up-front payments and in-game purchases.

While users only seemed to play the game for short bursts of time, they were playing it every single day. Rovio monopolized on this pattern and made a business model that allowed players to purchase advantages in difficult situations.

In doing so, the game encouraged players to continue playing while being tempted to purchase advantages that would propel them through the game with greater ease.

Rovio also implemented additional content that could be accessed by paid users only–so if players wanted to get more Angry Birds content, they had to pay up. This created an entire virtual economy to support the game. The virtual economy also increased playtime as it gave the players a financial incentive to log into the app.

Publicity is Everything

While they were developing the game, Rovio knew that there was something special about the characters they made for Angry Birds. So, when the game got popular, they capitalized on the appeal their characters had for the market.

To say that Angry Birds is a popular franchise is an understatement. The franchise has branched out from simple mobile games into multi-million dollar brand deals, a TV series, and even blockbuster movies. 

App Store Optimization

Angry Birds tripled down on the Angry Birds brand and ecosystem, but the publicity & marketing tactics didn’t stop there. To ensure their success when they launched, Rovio also optimized their content for the App Store, giving their game the best chance at going viral. 

A catchy image, instantly capturing your attention with a heavily, keyword-optimized description, allowed users to get a sense of what the app was, before they downloaded it.

Overnight Success

Rovio has produced some of the most impressive growth statistics in the industry. Angry Birds has netted them $12 billion in revenue in 2012, $50 billion in 2017 and over 3.7 billion total downloads.

The success of Angry Birds was the culmination of marketing, optimization, simplicity and perseverance. Four items, that if copy and pasted to many different business ideas, could yield success across countless verticals and industries.

So the next time you think your startup idea is stupid, just remember… after 52 tries, a video game that pitted birds against pigs, netted Rovio billions and made them a household name in the mobile app/game industry.


💻 SaaS Of The Week: Connect.Club

In the past two years, we’ve been more disconnected than ever, yet we’ve found a way to adapt and migrate to virtual connectedness to replace most of our in-person interactions. This hasn’t, however, replaced true networking - like we can experience at a trade show or networking event.

Igor Monakhov, founder and CEO of Connect.Club aims to solve that with a new app he’s created that is currently live in the metaverse. Connect.Club is a new social network that allows people to find each other, create meaningful, human connections and collaborate more efficiently. You’ll find a virtual world full of events and people connecting to build a better world.

Although the metaverse is still a relatively new concept, this seems to be a great initial app that allows people to dip their toes in and get more used to building meaningful, online relationships.


🎧 Things You Should Listen To: Terry Jones, CEO of Travelocity, Chairman of Kayak.com

This week on the Success Story podcast (@successstorypod), I sat down with Terry Jones (@terrellbjones), who is the founder and former CEO of Travelocity, chairman of Kayak.com, CIO of Sabre Inc., author and motivational speaker. A graduate of Denison University in Granville, Ohio, Jones entered the travel industry in 1971 as a travel agent with Vega Travel in Chicago.

He has founded five startups, with two billion dollar IPOs — Kayak and Travelocity. He has served on 17 corporate boards. His success has established him as a thought leader on innovation and disruption.

We spoke about his incredible career, starting off as a travel agent, to becoming a serial entrepreneur and some of the lessons he’s learned along his journey that he teaches over to younger entrepreneurs. We also spoke about emerging technologies (AI, Blockchain, IOT), and the real, present day impacts they’re having on our lives.

If you nerd out on new tech and love learning what’s out there, or want to learn entrepreneurial lessons from one of the most successful individuals on the planet, tune in.


📚 Things You Should Read: Ogilvy on Advertising

David Ogilvy was a British advertising tycoon, founder of Ogilvy & Mather, and known as the "Father of Advertising". This is his deep dive & insights from what he’s learned, pertaining to the world of marketing and advertising.

Although he was operating at his peak in the 50’s - 70’s, he was ahead of his time in terms of his deep understanding of consumer behavior. If you want to market anything, it will definitely benefit you to take a few notes from the mind of the original “mad men”.


🧠 Scott’s Thoughts

1. “Sometimes you won’t have the motivation to take on the task in front of you. That’s why you need the discipline to do it anyway.”

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2. “You don't need luck if you're willing to keep trying.”

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3. “Most people fear failure so much that it actually stops them from doing things that will make them much more valuable assets to their organizations.”

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💡 Other Thoughts

1. On Competence

"Quality is never an accident; it is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, intelligent direction and skillful execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives."

— Willa A. Foster

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2. On Preparation

"It's not the will to win that matters—everyone has that. It's the will to prepare to win that matters."

— Paul "Bear" Bryant

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