March 22, 2012
Angry Birds Space Lands At Last
Lawrence LeBlond for Redorbit.com
All you bird-slinging, pig-crushing fans out there get ready as Rovio has finally released the latest installment of its hugely popular Angry Birds franchise: Angry Birds Space.The new Angry Birds Space app, now available on iPhone and iPad, is the biggest launch to date for Rovio, which partnered with NASA to announce the title in space.
The new version will be highlighted by its newly remodeled characters, a new physics engine to account for the “no-gravity” concept and a brand new setting that will take the game to a whole new level.
Angry Birds Space will feature 60 levels of zeroG mayhem that should provide an interesting twist to the existing style of gameplay. Rovio said players should find it both fun and useful pulling off different trick-shots using gravity pulls and other things to beat each level.
The latest installment also has new birds and new superpowers for existing birds. There are also hidden bonus levels, including an anti-cyber-bullying level. There will also be a bonus add-on including 30 extra levels as part of the Danger Zone pack, developers are calling the “most difficult levels ever.”
The Angry Birds Space app costs 0.99 cents for iPhone and iPad users, while the HD version for iPad costs $2.99. Android´s version is free with ads, or 0.99 cents without ads. A Mac version is also available for $4.99.
Rovio, looking to capitalize on the popularity of its bird-flinging craze, is also teaming up with a major US retail chain to sell Angry Birds merchandise, and is also planning to open themed activity parks across Britain, vying to establish a Disney-themed brand, the developer said on Tuesday.
Peter Vesterbacka, chief marketing officer at Finnish-based Rovio, told Reuters that the company sees itself as an entertainment brand, not just a gaming company.
“We want to make Angry Birds a permanent part of pop culture,” said Vesterbacka, comparing it to Hello Kitty and Super Mario. “We´re just getting started.”
The company´s flagship product, Angry Birds, has been downloaded more than 700 million times, making it the most downloaded game ever, and is the single-fastest growing game on Facebook.
The company´s value has been estimated at up to $9 billion, just a little more than two years after it first released Angry Birds on the iPhone.
Rovio said it is placing its branded toys, books, and clothing in thousands of stores nationwide, timed to coincide with the launch of Angry Birds Space this week. It said the new partnership with the leading retail chain will be bigger than its existing Barnes & Noble venture.
Rovio said it is also planning to launch several themed activity parks in Britain and has its sights set on Asia in the future.
The parks will be built through a partnership with Finnish playground equipment manufacturer Lappset and will feature Angry Birds-styled swings, sandpits, climbing towers, slides and arcade games.
While looking to establish a Disney-like brand, the playgrounds will not exhibit theme park styles the likes of which Disney is famed for, but will be smaller adventure playgrounds built mainly in cities and towns and possibly connected to existing large theme parks.
Vesterbacka said that children and parents playing at the playground will be able to access new features in the mobile game, a sign that Rovio is looking to fuse the digital world with reality.
The first park is scheduled to open at the end of April at the Sarkanniemi Amusement Park in Finland, the country from which the popular game hails.
Vesterbacka, known as the ℠Mighty Eagle,´ speaking at yesterday´s (March 21) launch, said: “There is a big problem with childhood obesity in Western countries with children spending a lot of time playing computer games and watching TV. We have discovered that we can make learning fun [referring to a new range of science textbooks released by the firm] so why not make exercise fun?”
“All of the Angry Birds Activity Parks will be ℠Magic Places´ which means that when people go there, they will gain access to additional content, rewards and special features such as the latest bird,” he added. “There will also be local leader boards so there will be a real incentive to go to the park and exercise. Modern mobile phones have many sensors so the more activity a person does, the more they will be rewarded.”
“You can create some really cool experiences when you combine the real world with the digital world,” Vesterbacka noted, adding that Rovio wants people to spend longer interacting with the Angry Bird brands.
“We see TV as the big competitor. TV dominates people´s lives. On average people spend 158 and a half hours a month watching TV — while they only spend two hours a month interacting with Angry Birds in some form,” he said.
Vesterbacka said Rovio plans on launching the adventure parks in the US as well as China in the future.
Rovio is also targeting its birds at Hollywood, according to Andrew Stalbow, Rovio´s American chief.
Stalbow told The Telegraph last year that the Angry Birds movie is scheduled for release in 2014, after a series of themed cartoons make their debut. Rovio acquired a Finland animation studio recently where it plans to produce its animated content. However, Stalbow said no decisions have yet been made on how or where the movie will be made.