Angry Birds creator becoming kind of a dick

First off, I love Angry Birds! I check it for updates more actively than any of my other iOS apps, and I have both the original version and the candy-coated “holiday” versions—including V-Day, St. Pat’s Day, Xmas and Halloween. I have played them all to completion and think they represent some of the best the mobile platform has to offer (this is true even if we also acknowledge the game play borrows just a tad from other, older games).

Second, with that bit out of the way, Angry Birds creator and Rovio CEO Peter Vesterbacka is quickly becoming kind of a dick.

To say success has gone to his head—just a bit—and clouded his judgement is, I’m afraid, a bit of an understatement at this point.

Which is really too bad! Because, again, Angry Birds is such a great game.

Not great? Saying consoles are dying, even when the evidence doesn’t really back it up. Newsflash, Versterbacka! Your game is kind of the exception! Also, there’s the matter of February console sales, which were actually up, thanks in no small part to innovative little peripherals like Kinect (yes! there! I! Said! It!), hardware like the all-but-sold-out 3DS, and software like Dragon Age 2, Donkey Kong Country Returns and basically everything I saw at PAX East this weekend (which, coincidentally, included more news about Angry Birds for all consoles).

I’d include PlayStation Move in there, but I’d only be able to say people are “playing” that if we allow that “playing” means they are using the bulbous controllers as a kind of rudimentary bat to smash their unplayed PSPGo’s out the window and into a dumpster. So, yes, people are “playing” the PlayStation Move too, without fear of Angry Birds usurping their active activities with its cheap, mobile goodness (joking aside, no one’s playing Move).

But the real point is that consoles are just fine and dandy, thank you very much, and the proof is pretty much in the February numbers. Forever and ever now people have been prophetic with their belief that the console is dead—the Wii especially, because everyone still loves to hit that low hanging fruit—and that the numbers would start to turn around and go negative as mobile gaming took hold. That really hasn’t happened.

Instead, what’s happened is there’s been this huge in-pouring of gamers who might just be even more “casual” (in quotes because I hate it) than the Wii owners seem to be. They love their 99-cent apps and their 5-min seated-on-the-toilet restroom sessions, thank you very much, and they’re pretty happy playing those games all the live long day. But what they aren’t doing is leaving their DS’s or PSP’s or Xbox’s or Wii’s at the wayside to enjoy these new experiences. Nope. They’re continuing to do play them, or they’re the kind of people that don’t particularly like the disposable experiences (yes! I said that too! Just like Iwata!) one finds overwhelmingly prevalent on mobile iOS and Android devices.

Thing is, disposable doesn’t mean bad! It just means what it means. Disposable razors aren’t bad. Neither are pens. Disposable just means whatever it is serves a purpose admirably and then when it doesn’t the person really doesn’t feel all that bad if they never use it again. Kind of like the majority of software in the App Store right now. Again, that’s not a bad thing! Some people actually LOVE those orange plastic Bic Razors, but this doesn’t mean the Art of Shaving is going out of business anytime soon. Not by a long shot.

Perhaps what Rovio’s outspoken CEO meant to say is that, *deep breath* “gosh golly gee the App Store has been absolute gangbusters for us, and as I sat atop this gigantic pile of money I mistakenly assumed that every developer who ever stepped foot in or heard of the App Store has had the exact same experience as we did, and because of this mutual, shared success they have decided not to make console games anymore! Ergo, consoles are dying!”

Yeah, something like that.

In the end, my advice for Rovio is pretty simple: You have a great product, but it’s not that great. It’s not even genre-defining or paradigm-shifting. It’s an exceptionally designed exception to the rule in an App Store filled with garbage and occasional diamonds in the rough.

So instead of saying silly things like “consoles are dying” during a month where they actually saw an increase in sales, why not focus on that next holiday expansion pack? The St. Patty’s one wasn’t particularly hard or evolutionary, nor was the Valentine’s Day one…come to think of it, the shorter levels kind of make it feel as though the franchise is slowing a bit. Not dying, per say, but I had to check the pulse a few times, you know?

Better yet, focus on that Angry Birds console version. I hear games on consoles can be a real bitch to pull off successfully. Or are we to believe the up-tick in console sales are an effect of the Angry Birds phenomenon as well? No, probably not.


  1. Personally, I don’t see consoles surviving more than one more generation. Not because portable apps are taking over but because I think handhelds will become the next gen consoles. The iPad and Xoom can drive 1080p already. It won’t be long before you’ll just be able to (wirelessly?) plug in your handheld to play games at home.

    In the same way that the desktop PC market became the laptop market I don’t see why we won’t have a similar situation here.

  2. I sincerely doubt that, since the number of each console sale seems to increase with each gen home console and handheld alike. The angry bird guy just like to talk f*****g s**t thats all.

  3. Consoles are not going anywhere. Why anyone would prefer to play a handheld on a 5 inch screen over a 55″ HDTV is hilarous. Angry Birds is a decent time waster, nothing more. Console gaming is where I spend the majority of my gaming. The guy is a moron, and it’s proof any blind squirrel finds a nut sometime. Let’s see what his next game is before we declare him a good developer.

  4. First off, I too theorize this is the future, baelnic. Handhelds will be so HD that they’ll serve as controllers for plug and play. Look at the NGP, as a controller, it does more than the PS3. At this point, why would I want a PS3 if they’re porting games from it to the handheld?

    Anyway, why all the hate once industry heads go big? Competition is the mother of innovation don’t you know.

    Also, console sales may be down because, gee, everyone’s all comfy with their purchase. It’s been nearly 5 years since each console’s release. While somewhat inflammatory, its a decent article, thanks Jack!

  5. @baelnic,
    That’s very interesting. I, too, feel the day may come when home consoles and handhelds will be “fused into one.” And people will simply “plug” their new handhelds into their TVs. A WiiDS perhaps?

  6. Angry Birds was good for the first few weeks for me. It’s a an ok game, but I don’t launch it anymore because there is really no substance for me to come back to.

  7. I tried Angry Birds.. I got over it’s simple charm.. Grew bored of the repeating levels.. Is that not normal? >.> huh…

  8. Okay… Well, there’s already Angry Birds up on the PSN. I downloaded it on January 4th 2010. It showed up as a “Mini”… and me not realizing that it was meant for the PSP (hey, it didn’t say PSP only on it as most PSP titles do, and it even said PS3 on it SOMEWHERE in the description) I paid for it and downloaded it. And I proceeded to play it for hours and hours well past the wee hours of the morning and almost into regular morning hours. However, after starting to play it, I noticed that the resolution was quite low – and therefore, probably intended for the PSP.

    That being said – the controls work great, and the game is absolutely fun. It looks just as good and I think even works BETTER than the Android version of the game. The controls (using my left analog stick to aim the birds, and then the X button for a “second tap”) work well and seem intuitive.


    … What kind of “console” version are they “working” on, then?

    I could easily see the exact same thing pop up on X Box Live Arcade, no problem…

  9. *EDIT for above – I downloaded it from the PSN to my PS3 on January 4th this year, 2011. *coughs*

  10. @jayvola: There is a truly massive amount of shovelware on the Wii.

  11. “People like you, Iwata, & Reggie are quick to use the word “disposable” for apps while hoping no one brings up the truly massive amount of Wii shovelware.”

    That’s… a very odd comment, considering no one has ever denied that the Wii has shovelware. I could type pages explaining just how silly that is, but I’ll wait and see if you are cunning enough to explain what you meant in an understandable way.

  12. Angry Birds is a very unusual phenomena. There is hardly anything original on it. They borrowed all the gameplay ideas from older games. They even took the physics engine code from somewhere else (and btw, the didn’t even give credits to the code author). I guess the only good original thing they did was to add those characters: people happens to really love birds, especially if they are angry. Or something.

    Anyway, good for them and the millions of dollars they have done, and good for the millions of people that enjoy the game. I for one think it’s a really bad game.

  13. “It’s an exceptionally designed exception to the rule in an App Store filled with garbage and occasional diamonds in the rough.”

    Isn’t that every video game platform though? I own 20 some odd Wii games, I bet there are 200 or more in that time that came out that are garbage. I own a big stack of DS games, there are more than 10x as many garbage games. I’m sure it’s the same thing for Xbox games, PS3 games, etc. It’s doubly true if you add in the downloadable marketplace games.

    No one says PC gaming is terrible because you have to sort through thousands of crappy games to find a good PC game.

  14. I don’t think consoles are gonna die. Rather I think the lines may be blurred where a game system can be both a portable and a stationary unit that outputs video signals to an output device.

  15. I think this whole thing started when Reggie drew the ire of the Angry Birds devs by calling app store games disposable, which invites comparisons between the DS and iOS devices. I don’t know why Reggie would want the DS to be perceived as competing with iPhone or iPod. They are completely different devices which both have different primary functions. They are both portable devices, but the iPhone is a phone and the iPod is a music player, both of which just happen to also play games (but are severely limited in scope by the absence of a d-pad or dedicated buttons). The DS is a dedicated game player. Unfortunately I’m sure the comparisons will only continue now that the 3DS will have a music player, camera and other features sported by iOS devices.

  16. Ac is right on the money: In a few years, there will be no distinction between “handhelds” and “consoles”… You will be able to play full-length AAA games on a handheld in HD on the go, but as soon as you get home you will be able to hook it to your HDTV and continue playing with a regular controller (or touchpad, if required). Sony, Microsoft, and even Nintendo won’t have two types of hardware, one portable and one stationary, but only one that can be both.

    Oh, and all the games will be downloadable, so chains like GameStop will go down the same road that Blockbuster and Borders did. Which will bring the price of full games down, hopefully, back to a more affordable range of between $5 and $40, depending on what kind of game you are downloading.

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