Rovio has launched its follow-up to mobile gaming phenomenon Angry Birds, but this time even Android users will have to cough up to play.
The game is called Amazing Alex, and it will set you back 64 pence (99 cents) on iOS or Android, but it used to be called Casey's Contraptions when it was sold to Rovio by game devs Mystery Coconut. Rovio bought the rights to the game last year and has now tarted up the graphics and introduced some Angry Birds-inspired structure.
Angry Birds has been huge for Rovio, and for mobile games in general, but it's worth remembering that it wasn't Rovio's first attempt. The company had 50 or so failures before hitting the big time with Angry Birds, and since then has been extracting every possible penny from the franchise before it gets old.
Success breeds success, in mobile games more than anywhere, and once you're on top of the heap you grab all you can. That means Angry Birds-branded clothing/board games/toys etc, but also signing deals for exclusive levels (on Samsung handsets) and additional features (Nokia's Ovi Store got "The Mighty Eagle" first) as other companies seek to share your cool.
But with Angry Birds already fragmented into as many titles as it can reasonably manage (Seasons, Space) the daunting task is to start again with a new franchise before the old one loses its ability to help with the launch.
Having failed 50 times, Rovio took no chances in buying in an already-working title, and has been trialing the game from within the various Angry Birds titles for the last couple of months. Angry Birds has hitherto been free on Android, supported by advertising, but that was down to Google's Play not having enough international reach rather than any ideological point - making punters pay for Amazing Alex will reduce its popularity and slow the spread to other app stores, but it will bring in revenue.
It also begs the question of how much Rovio was making from the advertising in Angry Birds, if it's prepared to sell an ad-free Amazing Alex for 64 pence.
As for the game itself: it's fun in an Angry Birds kind of way, instant gaming to fill five minutes, and one can imagine the inevitable flood of books/films/toys tied into the franchise (Rovio clearly has).
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