Revenge of the birds -

Revenge of the birds

Angry Birds, the world’s most popular smartphone video game, gets a festive update

Revenge of the birds

Photograph by Andrew Tolson

Over the holidays, those looking to vent some frustration away from family might consider hurling an angry bird at a bug-eyed green pig—if they’ve got a smartphone and the hottest mobile game available, Angry Birds. (Evil pigs have stolen these birds’ eggs, the plot goes, and the birds are out for revenge.) A festive new edition, called Angry Birds Seasons, features a wintry landscape, an Advent calendar theme and, of course, pigs and birds in Santa hats.

In the year the game has been available, Angry Birds, which is offered on Apple’s iPhone and iPad as well as Android devices, has become a certified blockbuster. Consistently ranked as the No. 1 paid app in Apple’s iTunes store, it’s been downloaded about 36 million times. With a concept so simple that it borders on inane, how to explain the success of Angry Birds? “It’s a beautiful game. It uses very simple objects,” says Raymond Pirouz, a new-media marketing expert at the University of Western Ontario’s Richard Ivey School of Business. “And it’s pretty addictive.”

Good placement in Apple’s iTunes store has also helped. Dozens of new apps are released every day, but Angry Birds had the advantage of being promoted as a staff pick; once it topped the chart for sales, it became unstoppable. When buying a game for 99 cents, consumers “aren’t going to do a lot of research,” Pirouz notes. “They’re more dependent on Apple” and the top spot becomes a “self-fulfilling prophecy.”

Still, the game’s Finnish developer, Rovio, has kept the momentum going by introducing Angry Birds Seasons and other updates, adding levels or characters. And it’s now selling Angry Birds-themed T-shirts and plush toys (US$14.99 plus shipping and handling). Angry Birds 2, and versions for Microsoft’s Xbox and Sony’s PlayStation 3, are reportedly in the works. Rovio’s efforts seem to be paying off. Just one day after Angry Birds Seasons was released, it was already ranked No. 2 in the iTunes store—behind Angry Birds.


Revenge of the birds

  1. First off: I love Angry Birds. Simple, clever, fun, highly challenging but never frustrating. A perfect mobile game for 99 cents.

    BUT… with "Angry Birds Seasons" developer Rovio has done two really awful things: 1) require you to connect to the Internet to get each level — despite the fact millions of users (like me) play on iPods that aren't always connected. Annoying, frustrating, and (potentially) privacy-violating.

    2) They took away "Angry Birds Halloween." Not simply from the iTunes store, but if you bought "Angry Birds Halloween" and download "Seasons" Rovio reaches into your iPhone and OVERWRITES the game you purchased with the new one. The developer has decided that you MAY NOT keep the game you bought. That's just outrageous.

    Make no mistake, I have no problem giving Rovio 99 cents for new editions of AB. Heck, I had no problem giving them $5 for the privilege of having the HD version on my iPad. BUT when they start taking something from me I've paid for, well, I'd use the word "theft," even if they choose to call it an upgrade.

    — mm