Angry Birds

Why was (is?) Angry Birds so successful that it makes millions of dollars and has a mega-huge customer base?

1. Simple yet engaging interaction concept.

A successfully built game will enable users to fully (or near fully) understand its interface and interaction model after only a brief period of contact. Users will often rate this format as ‘simple’, and it makes them more likely to interact with it initially. However, it cannot just be simple; it also has to be engaging. To make it engaging, the users’ understanding of the game needs to be expanded as they progress, with new tools or environments added at the right points as they move along so they do not get bored. Angry Birds does this by adding birds with different techniques and more complex layouts as the user progresses, after its initial simple interaction introduction.

2. Cleverly managed response times

It is often believed by developers that faster is better – and oftentimes this is true. However, it is not always true. The Angry Birds developers decided that instead of making everything happen as fast as possible they’d slow down the birds’ flight across the sky to more of a wander. This allows users a better look at the trajectory they’ve created, and gives them a better chance of fixing their mistakes on their next shot (user error correction). The expiration of pigs is also rather slow (at 3-5 seconds) which gives the benefit of both allowing the user time to construct their next shot in their head if they didn’t shoot perfectly the first time, or a moment of congratulation if they’ve just succeeded at something they thought was impossible.

3. Short-term memory management

When information is stored in short-term memory it is generally wiped as soon as something else comes along that grabs our attention, such as conversation, bright animated colours or an object of interest. It is usually not a good idea to erase someone’s short-term memory, but Angry Birds bends this rule somewhat by given users a brief glimpse of the pigs’ house structure before shifting their attention to the birds they are about to throw. They balance this by allowing the suer to scroll back and see the house, or zoom out so the entirety of the game is visible.

4. Mystery

Mystery is in the little details we question in the back of our mind, thinking ‘why did they do that?’ They’re things that add nothing to the gameplay in terms of mechanics, and are generally little aesthetic details that are pleasing and/or surprising. These are things like certain birds turing in the sling, or the pigs’ house shaking at the start of each level. The way you voluntarily think about these things is what makes the game compelling, and pushes your view of it further than just the game space.

5. Visual design and sound

The two main factors of visual design in game development are for it to be memorable, and for it to convey the desired attributes of the gameplay model. The musical soundtrack in Angry Birds varies slightly over time, negating a cessation of playing due to repetitive music. The sound effects simultaneously give validation of actions taken (the egging on of the birds not being launched, and the taunting of the pigs) as well as giving more personality and attachment to the characters themselves.


REF: Mauro, C. L. (2011). Why Angry Birds is so successful and popular: a cognitive teardown of the user experience. Retrieved from


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