"Angry Birds" maker Rovio proved it can make a lot of money off of one franchise. What it hasn't proven yet? If it can do the same with another.
Since 2009's original "Angry Birds" spent a record 275 consecutive days as the No. 1 paid download in Apple's App Store, the Finnish video game maker rolled out iteration after iteration of their best seller: "Angry Birds Seasons," "Angry Birds Rio," "Angry Birds Space."
Searching now for a non-avian hit game, Rovio on Thursday introduced "Amazing Alex," available for 99 cents on iOS and Android devices. It's a puzzler that asks gamers to complete "tasks" by making chain reactions with household objects like bowling balls, books, and balloons, taking place in the mind of a titular Alex.
If this game concept sounds familiar, it should. According to the Guardian, "Amazing Alex" is a rebranding of another game called "Casey's Contraptions", which was purchased by Rovio in May. Much like when Apple bought Siri and took it off of its App Store only to rebrand and integrate it into the iPhone 4S, Rovio stopped downloads of "Casey's Contraptions" and relaunched the new version in the company's own skin two months later.
Before "Angry Birds," Rovio had 51 games that weren't nearly as popular as its 52nd. With its new title, there's more on the line than just entertaining bored smartphone users trapped in a subway cars or waiting rooms. Rovio is trying to prove it's worth $9 billion and is hoping that it's more than a one-trick pony (or in this case, bird).
And apparently it's decided to play it safe in manufacturing its next hit by buying an already warmly received title and making it its own.
At least one initial review of the game so far was warm but not exuberant. "To be honest, there’s not much to say about Amazing Alex itself," writes GigaOM's Bobbie Johnson. He continues: "Cue comparisons with a million other titles out there, including big ones like Cut The Rope, and of course, Angry Birds."
But the similarity's part of the point. By launching a tried-and-true game with a few bells and whistles (like being able to share user-made levels, according to the Washington Post) instead of making its own in-house, Rovio hopes to guarantee another megahit. In Apple's App Store, it's currently the No. 1 paid app, with 303 reviews giving the game a cumulative rating of three out of five stars.
How long before we see the Alex of "Amazing Alex" made into stuffed animals, beach balls, and maybe even a film? Only time will tell if it can soar to "Angry Birds"-like heights.