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?