Angry Birds tops PSN. Horrifying and Inspiring.

Gaze upon the face of our impending doom!

It’s horrifying and inspiring at the same time to read that Angry Birds is topping charts even on the Playstation Network.  It’s horrifying because, of all the games out there on the PSN, a game first made for mobile devices that features birds being flung at objects beats out games like Battlefield 1943 (not that BF3 was all that amazing).  Seeing tetris in number two compounds the entire “what the…” feeling.

I don’t want to live to  see the day mobile games and facebook ‘villes take over the world.  If you look at all the Angry Birds crap out there, though, it’s obviously on the way. Isn’t there even a movie to round out all these toys and dozen or so game releases? (PS. Was the movie good?)

While I’m horrified, I’d be lying if I didn’t say this inspires me at the same time. Graev and I are still wanting to get our mobile game out before Christmas. While we know it won’t go viral like Angry Birds, it’s sure (bias) a lot better than 90% of the crap out there. I’d settle for 0.0001% of Angry Birds success. It’s neat to think that someone can make a mobile game and in a few years have movies and toys. That would be living a dream.

Maybe Mark Jacobs or one of the other influential developers out there turning to mobile development will turn the tides and reverse my opinion about mobile games. Maybe I’ll even reverse my own opinion.  I want my cake and I want to eat yours too.  I’m all over the place on this subject, I know.

  • Never really understood the Angry Birds hate. It’s a fun game in those 2-3 minute increments you find yourself in that would otherwise be filled with looking around aimlessly. And it’s an accessible game that even non-gamers can enjoy. Who doesn’t like knocking things over combined with just enough of a skill-based aiming mechanism to pique one’s interest?

    Commercial success = bad, I suppose. Good thing Tetris was an unknown sleeper indie hit…

  • It’s not the game itself that I hate. I hate the trend. Angry Birds is one of those insanely successful titles in the trend of, as you called them, 2-3 minute increment games. Look at what you just said — the alternative time investment would be spent staring at a wall. If a game that can be played for 2-3 minutes generates billions of dollars in revenue, that’s a huge invitation for more developers to follow suite.

    The meatier, more involved, greater in scope, and games that will challenge the boundaries of gaming are no longer as enticing to developers. That’s the horrifying component.

  • I think the issue here is player scope. How many people have 2-3 minutes to spend gaming? Maybe 95% of the entire population that has access to these types of games. How many people have 90 minutes straight to spend doing something involved? A tiny fraction of said population and typically, a younger crowd with less responsibilities. The latter can be part of the former, but not true for the reverse.

    Let’s compare very quickly here. Facebook has 400 million daily active users. Everyone there has the time for a quick 2-3 minute (you’re there anyhow). Even if you only hit 1% of all the users, that’s 4 million players. The iPhone is expected to hit 100 million sales (though some trade up) and that isn’t counting the iPod touch or the 50% market share that Android has. You’re looking at a player base of hundreds of millions of people who can access your game with a single click and likely have a 5 minute stretch they can game.

    Compare that to the console, where it’s 5 minutes to get into the actual game (boot, tv, login, etc…) or a PC that requires a heavy client and another 5 minutes (boot, login). MMO-group based games are worse, where you can wait 5-20-heck 40 minutes before you start actually completing something. This isn’t new, heck EQ had /gems 10 years ago!

    Which one is better? I really couldn’t say. But I think we’re at the point now where gaming is such an integral part of society that there are games that fit every playstyle – just that the given markets for those playstyles are vastly different.

    On an aside, my wife claims to not be a gamer yet she spent hundreds of hours on Puzzle Quest and Plants vs Zombies, small sections at a time. She is the target audience now, not me. How ironic is that!?

  • Game companies are always seeking to expand their client base. They already “have” us hooked (you, me, and those reading this blog). We continually buy PC and console games but it’s not enough to continually increase profit (and stock value). And unfortunately for every Grand Theft Auto there are plenty of Too Human’s that lose money for games developers.

    Facebook and mobile devices have opened a whole new audience to gaming. These channels allow companies to reach people who would normally not considering buying or playing video games. They have the right mix of cost (cheap) and time requirements (small) to appeal to this large demographic.

    There will always be a place for the games we love but as more and more non-gamers are introduced to gaming … who knows where it all will lead. I welcome the addition of these little time wasters so I now have more gaming than ever!

  • @fryfryfry: Your last paragraph is the key. Will there always be a place for the games we love? I feel like they’re slowly being edged out as it becomes easier and more profitable to make these 2-3 minute time wasters. I welcome all games, but I fear what I welcome to come with them.

  • The thing that really worries me is the growing belief that you need to fill every 2-3 minute gap with “entertainment”.

    What the heck is wrong with “looking around aimlessly” for 2-3 minutes? Unless you’re actually locked in a steel box you’re virtually guaranteed to see something more interesting around you than anything you’ll find on your smartphone.

  • For me it has nothing to do with the 2-3 minutes of free time, but more of less some nights I just don’t want to think. I spend all day at work reading code, using my brain solving issues, and thinking of solutions. Some nights it’s nice to come home and just do something that I don’t need to read a story about or figure out how to play. Yet still have some sort of challenge.

    Orcs Must Die is a perfect example of why I’m playing it. I love the challenge it gives me on many different levels. The past few nights my brain has been so fried that I just went to the easier levels just to try and slaughter thousands of orcs. Yet I was still trying to challenge myself to get a higher score. Playing the harder levels just required me to “think” to much so I’ll save those for another night.

    Angry Birds (and others like it) fills that category as well. Super easy to play with some destruction and challenge.

    Maybe some of us older gamers are pushing some of the design that way for this reason. Not sure.

  • It’s funny, because I see the current crop of games as returning to the “roots” of gaming.

    Keen, I’m not sure exactly how old you are.. but gaming *began* with games like Angry Birds.

    Space Invaders, Pac-man, Asteroids, Donkey Kong. These were not complex, time heavy games. They were however fun diversions.

    These things move in cycles. Somewhere out there, games like Angry birds are sowing seeds in the minds of players who will go on to *become* core gamers, much like yourself.

    Children don’t start reading with Shakespeare, just as those new to gaming won’t necessarily start with the 30 hour a week “Sandbox” MMO.

    The past few years have been some of the most exciting in gaming I’ve seen in ages. Sure, there are the “Farmvilles” and “Angry Birds”. There’s also Portal, The Witcher, Mass Effect, Dragon Age, Skyrim.

    I wouldn’t sweat it. If anything, we’re seeing *more* indepth, thoughtful, quality games being created than ever before.

  • I’m 26. The days of atari were a little before I got into gaming, but the sentiment is not lost on me as I have come to appreciate (and play) all those games. I do understand that games were once like missile defense and utterly simplistic in design.

    I’m not saying that games like Angry Birds should not exist. Quite the contrary. I think they are not only fun but they are needed. What I’m worried about is how easy it is becoming for developers to ONLY focus on these quick and easy solutions.

    1) More people play Angry Birds than World of Warcraft.
    2) They generate more money
    3) they take less time/effort/money to make

    It’s not hard to see why they’re so appealing. Heck, Graev and I are making one.

    The business side of gaming is prevailing over the gaming side of gaming. That scares me.

  • I see where you’re coming from, but for every EA, there’s a Valve.

    Developers are people too. There are developers who simply aren’t interested in working on ‘casual’ games.

    The fact that games like Skyrim, continue to be made and continue to sell by the millions are a great indication that things aren’t so dire.

    As I said, I wouldn’t be surprised in a few years, a lot of players to cut their teeth on these casual games are hunting for deeper experiences. While there’s a market out there, the games will continue to be developed.

    Will there be as many? I can’t say. We’re reaching a point where building AAA game content is prohibitively expensive, given the returns.

    What I’m hoping will happen is that publishers will use the casual game market to prop up their AAA developers during the extended development cycles.

    Games like Skyrim take 5 years or more to put together. That’s a lot of waiting for a return on investment. Using a stable of ‘casual games’ developers to keep the money rolling in, will take some of the pressure off while these larger titles are developed. If anything, that could lead to *better* games, with less pressure to just push them out the door.

    There’s no right or wrong answer here. Gaming will change, just as tastes have changed in all things over the years. I guess all we can do is embrace it as best we can. Good luck with your game by the way 🙂

  • What the heck is wrong with “looking around aimlessly” for 2-3 minutes? Unless you’re actually locked in a steel box you’re virtually guaranteed to see something more interesting around you than anything you’ll find on your smartphone.

    This is one of those hipster-esque snarks that is so ridiculous that it de-legitimizes whatever complaint you might have had. There is nothing interesting going on in the Wal-Mart line, or in the dentist’s office, or while you wait for your oil to be changed.

    And is there really any difference between playing Angry Birds and those people who constantly text other people? Perhaps playing Chess, Minesweeper, Solitaire, or Tetris on the smartphones is “better?” Are you against EVERY 2-3 minute activity? Because the difference between a micro-game and checking your calendar/email or watching a cat video on Youtube or whatever else is effectively zero.

    As for the greater fear that micro-games will crowd out game-games, I do not think you have anything to worry about. I have Angry Birds and I consider it a fun game in those 2-3 minute increments. Under no circumstances would I be playing it for more than 10 minutes at a time unless there was literally nothing else to do. So not only is the primary market different (non-gamers vs gamers), micro-games actually do lack the substance to displace “meatier” titles – I’d rather be playing a PC or console title at that moment, but because I cannot (due to time/location constraints), these kind of games will do.

  • What bugs me about Angry Birds is that it isn’t a very good game. I’m sorry, it isn’t.

    There are tons of games that are light years more fun and can be played in just as small time slices. They just haven’t gone viral.

    Virality is an amazing concept but it is really causing some negative ripple effects in so many industries. You now have people designing games, ad campaigns, tv shows, and movies as much for the “potential virality!” than actual quality.

    The developers of Angry Birds were about to go bankrupt when they released this total LUCK hit.

    It is a mediocre at best physics games with great sound effects and very cute characters. The last 2 things I give them definite credit for doing well. But the game itself… weak.

    This isn’t jealousy talking (ok I lied, it is), but man… it sucks when average at best games absorb such a huge portion of the gaming market’s dollars. That money would be so much better spent on 500 to 1,000 other games out there. 🙁

  • @Azuriel

    I completely agree with Bhagpuss. What is wrong with sitting in line for 2-3 minutes? It teaches patience. Alot of my daughters friend’s CAN’T sit and wait patiently, they HAVE to have a game to play. My daughter, because she is just starting to play video games, has never had this problem. Yes it does in fact carry on to cell phones and texting too. These devices are allowing people to fill every gap in their lives with “entertainment” which is teaching the youth that you don’t need to “wait”. I see all these ads on TV about ADD and ADHD and I know parents who claim their kids have them. I see the same parents letting their kids play cell phone games and Nintedo DS’s every break they get because they say “it’s the only way to control their kids”. The sad thing is one of these families has a young child. I’ve known them since their youngest was in diapers and they let her play video games along with her brother at that age. Now the younger child is showing signs of ADD and ADHD.

    Patience is a virtue. Filling every gap in your day with video games is unhealthy. I play Angry Birds at work during breaks or when it’s slow, sometimes in the restroom. I refuse to play it in the car, in line at the store, or waiting for dinner at a restruant.

    As for the Angry Birds movie it wasn’t really an Angry Birds movie. Rio was a movie with birds in it but it had nothing to do with the game Angry Birds. IMDB lists an Angry Bird movie in development due out in 2015 though.