Today Rovio launched their first non-Angry Birds sequel since the original dropped in 2009. Since then we’ve seen 3 sequels and just about every Angry Birds tie-in imaginable. From Angry Birds gummies to Halloween costumes, Hollywood movies to pistachio commercials, the Angry Birds seem to be just about everywhere.
With all that flying around I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little sick of the franchise. In fact I might have gone so far as to say that I disliked Rovio. But then I thought about it some more and realized that’s silly. Disliking Rovio for their success is a bit like disliking Tim Tebow for all the hype, which I constantly have to remind myself he is NOT to blame for. He seems like a decent enough guy and if people want to go nuts about him that’s not really his fault. By the same token if people really want to buy Angry Birds home pregnancy tests, so be it.
Although Angry Birds first appeared in 2009, Rovio goes as far back as 2003. It feels like they debuted in 2009 because their early mobile games didn’t have a sliver of the success that Angry Birds did (and they didn’t have the Apple App Store either). Amidst all this Angry Birds madness I’ve had to remind myself they’re still a company who has been at it a while. Angry Birds is their golden goose, so to speak, but they broke plenty of eggs trying to find it.
Rovio is not Zynga. Rovio is not EA. Not Apple. Not Google. They’re rich, but still not a huge corporation. They’re a relatively small game company. But still it’s been tiresome to see them constantly reskin Angry Birds with a Seasons version, a Rio version, a Space version. Coupled with the unrelenting wave of tie-ins and merchandising, which make perfect sense as a business model, it’s been really hard to maintain any sort of interest in what Rovio is up to. And their success masks the fact that they’re still a company worth rooting for. They’re not the bad guy, they’re just the popular guy. Sometimes it’s hard to make that distinction.
That’s why I’m so excited to see what they’ve done with their new title, Bad Piggies. Yes, it’s a spin off of the enormously popular Angry Birds franchise (as well it should be), but it’s an entirely different game than Angry Birds. And not only that, it’s an entirely fresh concept (save for maybe Incredipede or some distant ties to The Incredible Machine). They didn’t make an Angry Birds pinball app or an Angry Birds tower defense game, they went for something totally new. They took two things they know people love, the characters from their Angry Birds world and physics based “puzzle” mechanics, and did something different. I love that!
Rovio revived my interest in their success. I feel like I can root for them again because they’ve shown me that they’re more than just an Angry Birds factory. I am once again curious about their future, the way I was before Angry Birds Seasons plopped out of their game duplicator. I don’t fault them for riding the wave, they’d be stupid not to, but I’m glad to see they’re not resting on their laurels.
A small-ish company trying new things is far more interesting than a company of any size churning out sequels. They could probably ride off into the sunset right now with giant Angry Birds-laden sacks of cash and been happy to do so. It’s nice to see they have more in them than the desire to print money. They’re making games again!
Congrats, Rovio and thanks for reminding me root for you. If you haven’t seen it already, here’s the trailer for Bad Piggies. You can download the app to your iPhone here or the HD version for your iPad here.