The Widespread Popularity of Angry Birds
Angry Birds debuted in 2009 and has been downloaded over 300 million times. It’s on track to reach 1 billion downloads in the not too distant future. And here’s where it gets shocking ̶̶ people play Angry Birds 200 million minutes per day! That’s equal to 16 years of game play every hour of every day! Take a closer look at the Angry Birds infographic we put together for the whole story!
Rovio, the company responsible for the widespread Angry Birds addiction that’s sweeping the globe, recognized the growing Angry Birds obsession and capitalized on it. Today, there are three free versions of the Angry Birds game as well as their paid extensions. While the vast majority of Angry Birds players stick with the free versions, Rovio is generating massive revenue advertising from the free versions and millions of dollars each month from sales of the paid versions. Rovio also has a growing line of Angry Birds merchandise! It seems everywhere you turn these days, Angry Birds are there, too. There is even an Angry Birds movie in the works! This massive popularity has turned Rovio into a company reportedly worth over $1 billion, on par with well-known global brands like JetBlue.
An Addiction? Our Story
Angry Birds addiction happens quickly. One minute, you’re downloading the game your friend recommended to your smartphone or tablet, and before you know it, you can’t stop playing. My co-founder at AYTM, David Handel, admits he suffers from the “Angry Birds Addiction Syndrome,” even going to the extreme of deleting the game from his iPhone after the first bout of addiction set in. A few weeks later, he gave into temptation and reinstalled it, even buying it a second time for another device! As addicts ourselves, we decided it was time to dig deeper. AYTM conducted some research to learn more about the Angry Birds addiction phenomenon, and what we learned surprised and amazed us. It turns out David is not alone in his struggle.
Who Is Most Susceptible to Angry Birds Addiction?
While it seems few people are safe from Angry Birds addiction, there is a demographic segment of the population who is more likely to fall victim to its allure. Single, young men – be warned! You’re not only more likely to suffer from Angry Birds addiction, but you’re also more likely to buy paid versions of the game… in fact, you’re 76% more likely to than older women.
How Does Angry Birds Make Players Feel?
More than half of the gamers AYTM surveyed feel relaxed and report that their moods improve when they play Angry Birds. However, younger players are more likely to be in a worse mood after playing Angry Birds compared to people over 25 years of age. Single and unemployed folks are also more likely to see their moods deteriorate when they play Angry Birds than those who are married or employed.
Why Are We Addicted to Angry Birds?
If so many players feel angry when they play Angry Birds, then why do 82% of AYTM survey respondents claim that they feel at least occasionally addicted to Angry Birds?
Michael Chorost, Ph.D., provides an answer in Psychology Today. Citing research by Steven Grant, the chief of the clinical neuroscience department at the National Institute on Drug Abuse in Bethesda, Maryland, Chorost explains that Angry Birds actually elicits a neurophysiological response in players. He refers to Angry Birds as a “masterpiece of addictiveness” because it’s “simple, realistic, rewarding, and funny, but it’s also a terrific manipulator of the brain’s dopamine system.”
In layman’s terms, dopamine is triggered in a person when something happens that is usually followed by some kind of reward. For Angry Birds, the scenario would be firing a bird and being rewarded with crashing pieces, screaming birds, and popping pigs. There is anticipation in the mix because players never know exactly what’s going to happen when the birds hit their targets. As Chorost explains, “that uncertainty creates a tension, and the brain craves release. It makes you want to do whatever it is that creates the release.” In other words, it makes you want to pull that slingshot and launch more birds!
So it seems there just might be a neurochemical reason why Angry Birds addiction is so prevalent. However, most players aren’t ready to beat the addiction yet. In the AYTM survey, only 24% of players indicated that, like AYTM’s David Handel and Psychology Today’s Michael Chorost, have already deleted the Angry Birds app or considered deleting it so they won’t play it anymore. The other 76% in AYTM’s survey have no plans to stop playing anytime soon!