The gaming industry was dealt a surprising blow when Rovio, the makers of the beloved Angry Birds, made the unprecedented decision to pull their paid Angry Birds remake from the market, barely a year after its release.
The remake, Rovio Classics: Angry Birds, had been meant as a nostalgic tribute to fans of the original game.
Instead, it turned into a cautionary tale for mobile marketers, spotlighting the potential pitfalls of revamping classic games in the modern, crypto-fuelled mobile gaming market.
Victims of Their Own Success: a Look at Rovio
Rovio Classics: Angry Birds was launched in March 2022 with a price tag of $0.99 and zero in-app purchases (IAPs).
However, just a year later, in February 2023, Rovio delisted the game from Android and renamed it to Red’s First Flight on iOS.
The reason? Rovio determined that the paid app was siphoning downloads from their other free-to-play (F2P) Angry Birds apps.
This seemingly strange phenomenon boiled down to two theories.
One, fans searching for F2P games were scared off by the paid version.
Or two, players intentionally chose the paid version over the F2P ones, perhaps looking for a gaming experience without the annoyance of ads or the need for in-game purchases.
If you could bring back 2 Removed Angry Birds games, which Two would you bring back? pic.twitter.com/co8BITE8kq
— Angry Birds Nostalgia (@ABNostalgic) July 24, 2021
Rovio supported the first theory while critics leaned towards the second; some argued that the potential for higher spending in the F2P Angry Birds apps outweighed the one-time purchase of the paid version.
Despite the debate, the data showed that downloads for some of Rovio’s F2P apps had decreased following the launch of the paid version, supporting Rovio’s claims.
Rovio Commercial Direction Conflicts With Wants of Fans
It’s important to note that Rovio didn’t blunder into this situation unaware, when the original Angry Birds was delisted in 2019, Rovio faced considerable backlash.
They justified their digital marketing actions by citing the apps’ outdated technology and promised fans they would bring back the classic experiences in the future.
Fast forward to 2022, Rovio made good on their promise, releasing Rovio Classics: Angry Birds, a remake of Angry Birds Classic. But the elation was short-lived.
In 2023, Rovio delisted the app from Google Play and renamed it on iOS due to its impact on their wider games portfolio.
Rovio’s head of Angry Birds strategy, Ben Mattes, revealed that the paid app had negatively affected the discoverability of their F2P apps.
Angry Birds 2 Had Almost 100x More Downloads
Despite efforts to mitigate the issue, such as renaming the app and removing the term “Angry Birds” from its metadata, downloads for other Angry Birds apps continued to decline.
However, despite its short run, Rovio Classics: Angry Birds managed to pull in approximately 615,000 US downloads.
In comparison, Angry Birds 2 had about 68 million US downloads during the same period.
The incident serves as a significant case study for mobile marketers in the crypto and mobile gaming world.
It highlights the delicate balance between cashing in on nostalgia and maintaining a profitable gaming portfolio, a crucial learning point in a market where every download counts.
The saga of Rovio’s Angry Birds reminds marketers to remain vigilant in understanding the implications of their strategies and the importance of agile responses to unexpected market shifts.
This experience has certainly been a wild flight for Rovio, a journey filled with lessons, not just for them, but for the entire mobile gaming industry.
Will these hard-learned lessons shape their future strategies? Only time will tell.
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