Mobile gaming’s most beloved franchise is taking over the XR space.
Originally launched in December 2009, Rovio Entertainment’s Angry Birds has since become the most downloaded freemium game of all time. Over 20 Angry Birds games have been developed, including several special edition spin-offs and tie-ins to other entertainment properties.
No matter the number of spin-offs and sequels, however, the core premise tends to remain the same across all titles: Red, Chuck, Bomb, and a variety of other flightless birds must slingshot themselves at an assortment of complex towers built by the nefarious green piggies in order to rescue their precious stolen eggs. Of course, there are several titles, such as Bad Piggies, a vehicle-based puzzle experience, as well as Angry Birds Go!, a kart-based racing game, that deviate from the conventional format.
Recently, Rovio has begun embracing immersive technologies, such as VR and AR, in order to expand the franchise in bold new directions, while still remaining faithful to the core Angry Birds experience.
According to Ville Heijari, CMO, Rovio Entertainment, “Angry Birds has always been a game that has a wide appeal across multiple age groups. From the very beginning, the Angry Birds games have been about a pure and simple kind of fun – the same kind of thrill you get as a child, building a tower from blocks and knocking it over. That kind of fun is universal. No one is immune to that – no one you should trust at least. That’s something we try to harness in all of our games, something that is instantly fun but has a depth under the surface as well.”
Heijari believes the success of Angry Birds is a testament to that universal fun. “Anyone can approach the Angry Birds games and understand what it’s about within seconds. It is something that has endured from the original creators of the first game, and is just as powerful now.”
“Rovio has made a name for themselves through the classic Angry Birds slingshot games spawning their own genre in the process. With those kinds of games, we first focused on giving our players more of what they were already enjoying. More levels, more themes, more games. We were very much focused on big launches when pushing out new games and in-game content,” said Heijari.
“Over time, we saw that we would have huge spikes of active players around launches and then they would taper off after launch or in between big updates. The focus then became how can we provide compelling experiences for our players, even between these big beats?”
Heijari states, “Now our goal is to always have something new happening in our games so players will always have something fresh to get into every time they open the game, whether it’s a new event running in Angry Birds Match, or a new hat set to collect in Angry Birds 2.”
By embracing immersive technology, Rovio has proven that the Angry Birds format has even more potential than previously thought. This year alone we’ve seen the release of Angry Birds VR: Isle of Pigs, a VR rendition of the classic Angry Birds experience, and The Angry Birds Movie 2 VR: Under Pressure, a new experience for the PSVR that deviates from the standard Angry Birds format with multiplayer cooperative elements. Rovio Entertainment and Resolution Games also teamed up to create Angry Birds AR: Isle of Pigs, the first Angry Birds experience playable in augmented reality.
“Angry Birds was an early innovator when Smartphones first became the thing,” added Andy Robertson, Author, Taming Gaming. “Now they are a household name, it’s exciting to see them innovating again with AR and VR technology in their new games. Whatever the technology though, the task is the same: to create simple interactions that players want to repeat over and over.”
This VR and AR gameplay gets kids and families up and moving, allowing players to physically walk around structures in order to identify the best method of attack, gather coins, and uncover hidden surprises.
We spoke with 10-year old avid gamer, A.J., who has played Angry Birds since he was 5 years old—half of his life—to find out what he thinks about Angry Birds AR: Isle of Pigs.
“I like it because you get coins and you can unlock new worlds, get different birds and pig structures. It’s not like the normal game, it’s in 3-D and makes you want to look around the inside of the structures that the pigs made.”
After experimenting with a variety of formats, from tile-matching to kart racing, Rovio Entertainment appears to have found a new home in immersive entertainment.
Featured Image Credit: Resolution Games