Angry Birds and Mobile Games: The Way Forward?

Two hundred million. That’s how many times Angry Birds has been downloaded on the various platforms, as we reported yesterday. Whilst I don’t quite agree with the way Rovio handle the franchise (we’ll get to that later), I have bought all of the games on the iPhone myself, not to mention playing it on the Chrome Web Store. So there, that’s four from me.

That’s the thing; Angry Birds seems to be the most popular game in the world right now, simply because it’s so easy to play. It’s on most platforms, it takes 10 seconds to download and you can jump on at any time. So now we come to the point of this article: I said in the news post “it looks like small, downloadable games really are the way forward”, but since then I’ve been thinking. Are they, really?

[drop]No. There, that’s your answer; a lot of people would argue that this is the best way for games to go, one of them being the Angry Birds creator himself. Console games are dying, he said. They aren’t dying simply because Angry Birds has been downloaded a lot of times; although I do see where he’s coming from, with Angry Birds apparently being the most downloaded game on PSN. Does this mean that Angry Birds is taking over?

Well, first of all we can throw out that 200 million figure and assume a lot less individual people have downloaded and actually bought Angry Birds, probably around half of the 200 million. Whilst some people will only have downloaded a Lite version once, others might have bought each of the three iPhone games, the iPad equivalents, the PlayStation mini, the Mac App Store version, the Intel AppUp store version, maybe even the Android one if you’re lucky, and then played the Chrome Web Store version.

That’s just me bringing Rovio’s numbers down; it doesn’t stop Angry Birds from seemingly being one of the most popular games in the world. Could a console game (not counting Wii Sports, of course, which everyone got with their Wii) ever be as widely distributed as Angry Birds? I doubt it. Does this make Angry Birds a better, more profitable game? No, of course not; compared to say, Call of Duty, Angry Birds might sell X times as many copies but Call of Duty is £40 whilst Angry Birds is 59p. There’s the key difference in sales, right there.

Angry Birds, whilst it’s a great game, is essentially just the same each time. There’s a different theme in all of the levels and it’s still really fun to play, but like many other franchises, each edition of Angry Birds brings few changes. Perhaps Rovio should try something else out but they know that their juggernaut will sell because people just want new levels for when they’re bored. People want it on different platforms too. That’s why Angry Birds is so popular, but it’s also one of the reasons that it shouldn’t be considered to be the ‘saviour’ of, or next step in, gaming.

[drop2]Don’t get me wrong, Angry Birds isn’t a bad game. Rovio managed to come up with a great concept that has since pulled in masses of downloads. It’s great fun and I absolutely love playing it now and then, it can really pass the time. However, these mobile games shouldn’t ever be considered to be leading a revolution against console games. They’re all great, short blasts of gameplay for the price of a chocolate bar, and that’s how it should stay.

‘Proper’ games still exist, and they’ll always need to. I don’t want to have a world without a high-end PC or console playing the latest immersive story-driven game.  We need games like Portal 2 and L.A. Noire to give us something to marvel over in our spare time. These types of games aren’t dying but that’s not to say games like Angry Birds, that have originated from mobile platforms, shouldn’t exist – they can both, I hope, co-exist as different formats of games, not competing directly and certainly not killing off one and other.

I’m not going to go to a restaurant and substitute my steak for a KitKat, am I?

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18 Comments

  1. Mmmm.. a KitKat wrapped in Steak.. nom.

  2. Totally agree with this. Mobile gaming represents a new form of gaming which makes sense with people having a mobile device with them at all times now.
    The Gameboy certainly didn’t stop the NES or SNES from being hugely successful did it?
    I have several Angry Birds on my Nexus S as well as countless other casual games but I buy exactly the same number of console games as I ever did. They suit different situations

    • I think that cheap games like Angry Birds that sell for a few pounds put companies like Nintendo to shame for charging £30 for worse games. Thats the only reason we’re having this discussion because game companies are sour because they realise that if people know they can have plenty of content for a tenth of the price why would they pay so much for such a shoddy game as Steel Diver.

  3. I can’t understand this new wave of people saying handheld games/apps are going to take over. For me, I have an Android phone, but still don’t play the games that often, infact I got bored of them really, why?

    Well mainly because most of the games don’t work properly with the touch screen, most are hard to use, certainly the more fps/racing ones. Secondly, it doesn’t make me feel like I’m in the game, just having a quick play. I like to be entertained, most of the time these games don’t.

    Why will console games always be better for gamers? Because they are sooo much better in every way. Entertainment wise its much better, you can have family play, the sound is amazing, the games last longer, most can play co-op/online for days of playability.

    Hand held games/apps just don’t do it for me, and I will always want to play my games on a console based machine instead handheld. I personally see the app scene as a fad, it will always be there, but will never beat a console market, personally anyway.

    • A fad that will always be there? Oxymoron much?
      Apps have been around as long as smartphones (by which I mean the late 90s) it’s only since the iPhone formalised the distribution of them that the word took on the meaning it now has.

      • What I meant is that its popularity is a fad, but it will decrease as people get bored with the same old games. It will always be there but the fad of having these games will disappear, same with everything really.

  4. Clearly the future of gaming has room for both mobile and home console gaming, just like the present does. Why can we only have one or the other? Both exist now, both continue to exist, both will remain profitable for the companies that do it well. Angry birds will not kill off call of duty, nor vice-versa. Both will continue to exist.

  5. I’m starting to find this topic rather tedious now, it seems we can’t get through one week without someone proclaiming the death of home cosoles in favour of mobile gaming. Why? Why would mobile gaming kill home consoles? Why are we acting like mobile gaming is something new, when it’s been around since the 90’s? Why are people so adamant to over estimate the casual market?

    Today we have 3 catagories of gaming in my opinion, home, portable and mobile. Home is obviously the main one, the one we all know, portable the likes of your PSP/(3)DS(i) that aim to replecate your in home experience when out of the house, and mobile which is specifically designes for shor bursts of gaming on the move. All three have different markets, ambiences and features. None are ‘the way forward’ they have and will continue to co-exist.

  6. I enjoy Angry Birds very much but the Rovio devs need to pull their heads out of their asses. They came up with a simple idea that’s fun to play and it took the world by surprise but every Angry Birds game is essentially the same and it’s not as fun as it was the first time I played it.
    With smartphones receiving home docks that hook up to your TV via HDMI and other means to duplicate your tablet screen to your TV I’d say mobile games are becoming more and more like console games with more sophisticated graphics and storylines.
    Even the smartphones are receiving built in controllers to become handheld consoles and with Android 3.1 you can connect your PS3 controller to your tablet and use it to play games.
    So no. Smartphones will not kill consoles. They will become consoles that fit in a pocket and are able to make phonecalls.

  7. When I was reading this I was thinking of a comment to put likening the contrast in the types of games to choices of food, then I read the last sentence. Well played sir.

    • It’s just the icing on the cake, isn’t it? Ahem.

  8. The rise in mobile gaming is a result of the increase in revenue such a small game can make. I find it weird how it feels like mobile gaming is just lingering around. It should be there but we are supposed to be making cinematic and spectacular immersion gaming the main focus. The quality of experience on a phone is determined by the developers of the game and it just seems like they’d rather make something addictive than something spectacular, which in fairness is a pretty good idea. BUT I’d rather have immersive gaming than peggle in future.

  9. As long as there are people willing to pay for a product, said product will continue to be made.

    Just because pop music exists and is extremely pop(ular) it doesn’t mean this is the only genre available.

    Games are a relatively new medium, one which we are beginning to see expand not only in genre’s but in consumption. The rise of small, pick-up-and-play titles like Angry Birds won’t kill off what would be considered ‘real’ games any more than the rise of pop-genre games like Call of Duty will, it’s just the logical progression of a maturing industry.

  10. Angry bird is ok as is mobile. But it will never touch Sony console based gaming. Fact.

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