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PCG: Angry Birds is as big as Twitter says The Mighty Eagle

PCG: Angry Birds is as big as Twitter says The Mighty Eagle

There are "more than 2 billion copies of Angry Birdsout there. That's a good start".

Peter Vesterbacka - aka The Mighty Eagle - is on stage at Pocket Gamer Connects 2014, and that figure shows the 2 billion reasons why he's talking to a packed auditorium.

But getting to that number was simply not a reality when Rovio started out.

"Back in 2010, I said 'we're going to have 100 million downloads for Angry Birds'. That was totally unheard of. Only Tetris had done that, and it took them 20 years," he said.

"Now when you look back, and see how the market has changed, if someone says 'we're going to get 100 million downloads for a game' people think, well it's a bit ambitious, but it's achievable".

Breaking out of the crowded nest

Of course, the Angry Birds brand is one of game's greatest commercial success stories. Red and his avian pals are known across the world, and the figure that people thought Vesterbacka was "crazy" for aiming for has not been smashed, it's been obliterated.

"200 million people play Angry Birds every month" he remarked, and to put that into perspective, "That's all of Twitter".

Candy Crush Saga by contrast has a "mere" half a billion installs, which according to Vesterbacka is "a good start".

He's earned the right to be proud of the brand of course: getting to Angry Birds took Rovio 51 previous games that simply didn't rock the market: "We know very well how tough it is to make a hit game", he says. 

"It's very crowded out there. For every Angry Birds, there are many not-so Angry Birds. You have to be serious about about marketing, you have to be serious about branding".

Big birds

Just getting your game seen today can be a significant challenge "If you look at user acquisition costs, it's sky rocketing. There are few companies that can afford to do that, and (that number is) getting smaller and smaller".

Emphasising the importance of brand, he claimed that with Angry Birds he is "building a brand for 100 years".

Pointing to Nintendo's Super Mario Bros, Sanrio's Hello Kitty, and Disney's Mickey Mouse, he highlighted that these characters and brands had been a staple of modern culture, and that Angry Birds was now a part of this line-up.

"With Angry Birds we built the fastest growing brand ever", which he claims 9/10 people in the US are aware of.

Migration patterns

The reach of the brand has hit unexpected demographics too.

"I was at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona and one day I was walking across a lobby, and a 60-year-old Korean guy walks up to me. I was wearing my hoodie (emblazoned with an Angry Bird) and though he didn't speak my language, he saw my hoodie, and... (makes arching gesture with his hand). It was the Angry Birds gameplay. With Angry Birds, we're creating language".

The company hasn't rested on its laurels, and as he documents the marketing and PR activities they've taken part in – building activity parks, launching a game in space, taking over Red Square in Moscow, and placing within the top 10 of all licensed brands globally – one is reminded of the power an icon can have upon a people, both culturally and economically.

Finishing the talk, Vesterbacka remarked with a smile.

"It's a good start but we're only getting started", and at this point you do have to wonder: Where will Rovio end up?


Die hard Suda 51 fan and professed Cherry Coke addict, Peter Willington was initially set for a career in showbiz, training for half a decade to walk the boards. Realising that there's no money in acting, he decided instead to make his fortune in writing about video games. Peter never learns from his mistakes.

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