Why Angry Birds succeeds where Boom Blox failed


As Blake reported last week, the mobile phone game Angry Birds is coming to consoles. Having finally gotten a phone that can play the thing, I forked over my 99 cents to see what all the fuss has been about.

My first reaction: “It’s Boom Blox in 2D!” If you’re one of the few people who bought the fun and overlooked Spielberg/EA project (or its sequel), you might experience the same deja vu. I wonder if the folks who worked so hard on Boom Blox are rolling their eyes at the birds’ runaway success.

Why did one throw-things-at-a-stack-of-blocks game succeed while the other failed to catch on? Boom Blox had tons of play modes, complex level designs and amazing physics.

Angry Birds has appealing characters, a funny theme, a 99 cent pricetag and addictive, simple gameplay that can be taught in less than a second.

Was Boom Blox too elaborate for its own good? Is high-quality simplicity the key to success?


  1. I think the simplicity helps. Casual gamers don’t like them newfangled three-dees. Also, if you don’t like Angry Birds, you’ve only lost 99 cents.

    I tried Angry Birds on my friend’s iPad and don’t see what the big deal is, but to each their own.

  2. Boom Blox provided a much more engaging party game for me, and I liked it as a standalone game more than Angry Birds.

    Angry Birds is similar, sure, but it’s the price + portability that made Angry Birds a runaway success.

  3. Big fan of Boom Blox Bash Party. Angry Birds makes me want to boot up the Wi game.

    Maybe because my MT3G is barely capable of running it, but Angry Birds just seems off to me. Stuff doesn’t topple the way you would expect, and the angles are impossible to judge when launching the birds. Again, my phone barely runs Angry Birds, so maybe that is a factor.

    Boom Blox is a great game, though. Very satisfying watching towers topple.

  4. I love Blom Blox, just played it with some friends last weekend. The first game sold well, but casuals don’t generally buy sequels. Angry Birds just by the characters doesn’t sound appealing, but I should probably give it a try to see what all the fuss is about. Needs to have a free PC demo for those of us who don’t have high techy cell phones.

  5. Uh, Boom Blox sold over a million copies at a decent retail price on a minimal dev budget and close to no marketing. To imply it failed in any way is a bit of stretch. Now the sequel, that failed.

  6. Boomblox didn’t fail, but it was released on the Wii, which while it has good market penetration, still struggles to sell high numbers of non nintendo “party” games. The fact that it got good reviews and made a profit is good for a thrid party game with no history or back catalogue to rely on.

    Angry Birds on the other hand cost less than a big mac, is playable on the the fastest growing games console at the moment – the smartphone. I have it on my £99 Orange San Francisco (ZTE Blade) and it plays fine as well as on my £400 HTC Desire Z/G2 which it plays flawlessly.

    Don’t forget that the mobile apps market is very hit and miss but has a key market strategy – offer a lite or free version of your product in the hope to sell the full version for spare change. Very much like the old days of floppy gaming and cd rom when you got a demo disc with your monthly games magazine. This was pre internet when it was the only way apart from TV to get a flavour for the upcoming games.

    Remember that many apps on Android/iOS are below the standard of the bargain buckets that grace the Wii. There are only about 20 games on each system that are both immersive yet simple with more than 95% being low quality (not crap as I want to support anyone who takes the time to develop for these mobile systems). I think the next gen DS, PSP and Zune (or whatever MS call it) will need to support this mobile phone type of casual game experience. I do worry that the next wave of mobile phones are in danger of making handheld consoles redundant and would love to see an official console franchise released on a mobile phone.