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Does Angry Birds Make Us Reconsider The Role Of Download Games?

It's all about the money, money, money.

I know we’ve been here before,  but when Angry Birds Space can shift 10 million units in three days it does seem worth taking a look at the future of the industry again. Oh I know it only shifted that many because it’s free on some platforms, and even when it’s paid it’s hardly anything.

All those arguments can go round and round for hours, but I don’t think Rovio really cares: they got people to hit that all important download button 10 million times in three days: that’s about 38 people a second hitting the all important link on whatever screen is in front of them.

Apparently 10 million people want to fling birds into pigs, with the added bonus of space.
Oh, and before we go any further lets address that free version. Way back in 2010 Rovio stated that the ad-supported version of was projected to hit $1 million  a month by the end of that year. In an interview with Wired in April of 2011 they stated that their ads on Android were netting them £600,000 a month, which is pretty much in line with their $1 million* projection.

In that same interview they revealed that the Angry Bird brands had, at the time, netted them $70* million overall, for an initial cost of around $140,000* dollars.

Anyone who thinks there’s a gaming executive that isn’t paying attention to figures like that is, quite frankly, deluded.  Sure, not everyone is going to reach the success of Angry Birds, that’s certainly a given. However, if someone can make something that’s only one-tenth as successful as Angry Birds that’s still a seventy-fold return on the original investment; those are the kind of figures that make anyone’s eyes light up.

All of this is before we even get to the 10 million figure for Angry Birds Space, something that I’d imagine has caused a few executives to book some extra meetings today.

Of course these kind of games aren’t going to rule the gaming in its entirety, but it’s very easy to envisage them being one of the big money drivers in the industry of tomorrow. If a publisher can create an entirely new property that does similar volume to Angry Birds they’ll have a huge chunk of change in their pocket, why not funnel that back towards full console titles?

Although there’s more money in gaming now than there’s ever been before, it’s does seem to continuously get tougher for smaller console projects to find their way through publishers. If the app market could inject some fresh excesses of cash back into a publisher you’d hope they’d use it in new and creative way, although with the potential for very highly performing mobile games (performance in terms of profit margins anyway) we might see things swing the other way.

Imagine it, you’ve got your top five games (say FIFA (above), Madden, Battlefield, Need for Speed and Mass Effect for EA) that you know are going to sell in a terrifying volume. The profits margin aren’t a lot percentage wise, but with the amounts of money involved it’s more than enough.

At the other end you’ve got mobile games with low development costs and the potential for very high margins. Now potentially this gives you money to pour from the top and bottom into the middle, but with the potential for huge chunks of the top and the bottom would anyone want to put money into projects that might make a bit of cash if you’re lucky?

Obviously you need to take some risks, but I wonder if the “make a profit or die” mentality will be pushed even further?

The industry seems to be getting to one of those transition points where there’s the potential for everything to change, where we could see everything pivot and re-align around one concept. There’s so many ideas and concepts popping up this time it’s impossible to tell where things will go but I’ll tell you this; if anyone thinks they can successfully emulate Rovio they’ll do it without hesitation.

*All currency conversions are based on exchange rates at the time the figures were quoted.

  1. hol
    Since: Oct 2009

    I’m happy to buy an iOS game for 69p as its no real loss if it’s rubbish, angry birds is a great game & perfect for the touchscreen phones we have today. But, I still prefer the ps3 sat at home for proper immersive gaming, I found that racers & shooters rarely play well without a proper controller.

    Comment posted on 27/03/2012 at 18:32.
  2. bigmac175
    Since: Jan 2009

    Mobile is become one of the biggest ways to game. Its funny to think about the failed N-Gage and the market now.

    Comment posted on 27/03/2012 at 20:34.
  3. Deathbrin
    Since: Aug 2009

    I’m still angry on Angry Birds’s Windows Phone approach.

    Comment posted on 27/03/2012 at 21:56.
  4. Shaggy2Dope
    Since: Nov 2010

    Here’s a few ideas…
    Rovio come up with another great IP
    Rovio using Angry Birds for another genre (ex. RPG, Action/Adventure, Platformer)
    Rovio developing a full fledged console game

    Comment posted on 28/03/2012 at 03:07.
  5. Omac_brother
    Since: Nov 2011

    Taking out of the equation what the current bread of gamers want, I can see a lot of companies at least trying to emulate Angry Birds. Companies need to make money, and this will seem to them like a quick and risk free way of doing so. Why spend £5M on a AAA new IP when you can spend £150k on a mobile game and potentially make more profit? But I think the companies will feel a back lash if they move all their focus away from consoles/PC. I think I speak for a large portion of gamers (and reading the rest of the comments on here, they tend to agree with this), Consoles games is the industries bread and butter. Gamers love them, and would not like to see their departure from the scope of development. Plus, when the mobile game markets becomes as congested as the console one is, sales will spread out across the board.

    Comment posted on 28/03/2012 at 08:38.
  6. aerobes
    Since: Aug 2009

    It always seems to be Angry Birds though, what other mobile games have been anywhere near hitting the heights of that?

    Comment posted on 28/03/2012 at 18:34.

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