While "Angry Birds" has commonly been regarded as a major force in terms of app downloads, its sheer longevity has also left it somewhat at risk. Thus, in a bid to light a bit of a fire under the brand--and also possibly get a few new players in who previously weren't on board--Rovio has taken the paywalls out of the original "Angry Birds" and put it all up, at no charge, for iPhone (News - Alert) and iPad users.
This actually, according to reports, represents the first time that Rovio has ever peeled back the paywalls to make the start of one of the biggest mobile gaming series of all time available at no charge. But given further reports that say that "Angry Birds" is somewhat on the decline of late, and for the first time since May 2010, "Angry Birds" no longer appears in the list of the top 80 grossing iPhone apps. Under normal circumstances, "Angry Birds" would sell for $0.99 on iPhone, going to $2.99 for iTunes, so the savings are reasonable, especially for budget-minded gamers who held out for a long time, or for newly-minted iOS users who want to get in on the fun themselves.
For those wondering how big a pool that could possibly be, there's something of an extra advantage here as well, as Rovio has thrown in an additional 15 levels that previously weren't released, making it worthwhile even for those who purchased the previous version. There are still, however, purchases that can be made inside the app itself, so it's not like Rovio doesn't have an opportunity to make some cash here. Additionally, this push should get Rovio back up near the top of the standings in terms of the overall download numbers.
Things haven't been going well overall for Rovio lately. While "Angry Birds" has been seen as a hit of a thoroughly impressive magnitude, its followup "Bad Piggies" hasn't been having the same kind of success. Meanwhile, "Angry Birds" has been revised and sequeled and cross-promoted (remember the "Angry Birds" version based on the animated film release of "Rio"?) within an inch of its life, so going back to that particular well is going to be tough going. It makes a note of sense, therefore, that Rovio should try to get new players on board by offering the original experience up for free, and remind the previous user base just how much fun it all was by throwing in some extra levels it hasn't yet played.
"Angry Birds" is an aging property, in terms of how games measure age, and that means some new and unusual methods will need to be brought into play to keep that old spark going. Hopefully for Rovio, it can not only continue to keep interest in "Angry Birds," but use that momentum to bring out some new games that are as fun and as interesting as "Angry Birds" was when it first emerged.
Edited by Brooke Neuman