Last week Angry Birds for iOS got a huge update — I mean huge. They introduced “The Mighty Eagle” — a new bird in the game that can be purchased, in-app, for $0.99 and can only used once an hour. What makes this new bird such a big update has nothing to do with what it means for the game play — the big deal is the once an hour aspect.
Initially I thought that the Eagle would only be available for every hour you played the game — meaning I would rarely get to use it. I used the Eagle to pass a level I had been stuck on for a while (on my iPhone, for whatever reason I passed the level on the iPad). Then I put away the phone and headed out for Christmas festivities — an hour later I got a push notification to tell me the ‘Mighty Eagle’ was once again ready to fly.
What the hell?
Sure enough the Mighty Eagle is available once every hour, no matter if you are playing the game or now. I immediately thought: “this is a game changer.”
Some of you still may not get why this is a game changing move by Angry Birds, so let me explain.
How often do you play iOS games? If you are anything like me then you usually only play these games when you are bored and waiting for something else to happen. You play these games to waste small infrequent spots of time. Occasionally you grab your device with the decision that what you want to do right now is to play some games — mostly though iOS games are just time killers.1
When you get busy you forget about playing iOS games and just keep working.
What happens though when an hour after you were ‘killing time’ your phone buzzes to remind you about your Angry Birds process? Of course that would be annoying, so Angry Birds has disguised this action as a notification that the Mighty Eagle is back to soar.2
How cool is that? A genius move I’d say.
I typically don’t play iOS games much— because I forget about them and because I am not really that ‘engaged’ in the game play. Here’s the thing though, over the course of Christmas day Angry Birds kept telling me the Eagle was ready and I kept flipping open the app to play for a bit — even though I rarely used the Eagle. Essentially Angry Birds reminded me of its fun and I kept getting pulled back in.
Now, I have since turned off notifications from Angry Birds, but I have to say this is a pretty clever feature on their part. Pretty clever indeed.
I don’t know if this was the developers intention, but this update is truly impressive. Most iOS users only use a handful of the apps they download — especially with games. These apps are so cheap that most users will download apps, use them for a week and then forget about them for quite a while. With the Mighty Eagle update Angry Birds is taking a huge leap in making sure that iOS users will not forget how angry these damn birds are.
This seems like a pretty good way to subtly remind your users that your app exists.
[Updated: 12/27/10 at 6:08 AM] I am told you can use the Mighty Eagle continuously if achieve the ‘Total Destruction Feather’.