FRAMINGHAM, 15 MARCH 2011 - Angry Birds may be the vanguard of video gaming's new business motherlode, and it's putting traditional console gaming out to pasture, says the company's provocative marketing lead.
Rovio's Peter Vesterbacka took aim at console heavyweights Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo during a panel discussion at the South by Southwest Interactive conference in Austin, Texas, arguing that console games are "dying" with the advent of massively mobile gaming.
He means Angry Birds, of course, the little physics-based bird-slinger that just passed 100 million downloads. Developer Rovio recently secured $42 million in investment capital, too.
Vesterbacka's main beef? Console games simply cost too much at anywhere from $40 to $60 a pop (and frankly up to as much as half the price of a new console, if you're into the "limited edition" scene). Contrast with the price of a movie, a book, or yep, the comparably fractional price of most mobile games.
Angry Birds sells for jut $0.99, and cost Rovio virtually nothing--around $140,000--to make, with a return of around $70 million to date. Compare with Rockstar's Grand Theft Auto IV, which sold for $60 at launch, and cost around $100 million to make.
You won't catch developers with budgets like that really innovating, argues Vesterbecka.
The "revolutionary" future of gaming? While he admits mobile's still a bit of a wildcard, Vesterbecka sees it in smaller, more agile developers like Rovio, of course.
Never mind how fickle gamers can be, or how quickly trends can ebb. While mobile gaming's surely here to stay, it's sort of a mess right now. Apple's App Store alone makes slop troughs look cleanly, and finding your way to the best stuff's still a trend-driven guessing game.
Don't fret, console gamers. Not when games as obscure and "acquired taste" as Demon's Souls can nonetheless move upwards of a million copies, or we're getting eclectic platformers like Media Molecule's LittleBigPlanet 2, which leaves every mobile game I've ever futzed with light years behind.
Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.