Mobile gaming has certainly gained traction with users since Tetris became the first game to go mobile in 1994. Mobile games are now fully integrated with social platforms, driving unprecedented user engagement. Global revenue from mobile gaming grew from $2.6 billion in 2005 to $5.8 billion in 2008. Assuming the same rate of growth, the industry could be bringing in more than $10 billion in 2011.
One game in particular has been successful in leveraging the power of word of mouth marketing and social media to garner ‘must download’ status. Introducing Angry Birds, which started as a simple physics game, but has become a social phenomenon and launched a full-blown enterprise.
With more than 300 million downloads to date, Angry Birds has quickly become the single most used application in the world. The concept of the popular game may seem odd; players propel various birds using a slingshot to exact revenge upon green pigs, who have stolen the birds’ eggs. Asinine as the premise may be, users have become addicted and are joining the global conversation. The game’s social impact includes a Facebook page with more than 5 million fans, as well as the Angry Birds Forum and Angry Birds Nest, dedicated social forums to discuss strategies, tactics, frustrations, and ideas. Television personalities like Conan O’Brian and John Stewart are talking about the game on their programs. Companies such as Sprint have even licensed Angry Birds for use in advertising.
Angry Birds is the best example of how social gaming, leveraging the advantages of the mobile marketplace, capitalizes on the nature of its users to spread content virally. Other mobile games, like the popular Words with Friends, have exploited social engagement and gone viral, but nothing has come close to the wild popularity of Angry Birds. With licensed merchandise on store shelves and even a possible movie on the horizon, how big will the sphere of influence become? And beyond that, what will be the next big thing to hit social mobile gaming?