Opinion: The rise and fall of Angry Birds

Is Angry Birds still good in 2019? Well...

Opinion: The rise and fall of Angry Birds
| Angry Birds 2

Mobile gaming has been a thing for as long as mobile phones - or cell phones, for our American friends. The very first mobile phone I ever saw came pre-installed with Snake, and you should've seen my excitement when I first saw Snake 2 - hoo boy, that was a ride.

But the last decade has seen amazing evolution in the mobile device sector, providing us with devices that are often more powerful and capable than the average laptop or even desktop computer was a decade ago.

With the decade nearing its end, we've decided to take a look at Rovio's classic mobile game which became an empire in its own right.

The killer app

When Angry Birds launched back in 2009, the App Store and Google Play store were still fledgling services which weren't necessarily fully equipped in the same way they are now. Currently, you can find a game from pretty much any genre on mobile devices, but it wasn't so ten years ago.

Being free, and frankly incomparable to many of the mobile games that had come before it, meant that many people downloaded it, and even if Angry Birds wasn't being celebrated as an amazing game, everyone knew its name, and everyone had played it.

Angry Birds became the game that legitimised mobile devices as gaming platforms once and for all. After years of faff with crap Java ports and Game Boy Advance games but in a terrible portrait aspect ratio, as seen on the N-Gage. Angry Birds was finally a game purpose-built for the touch screens which had become mainstream on mobile devices thanks to the Nintendo DS, and it changed the mobile gaming landscape.

Too little, too late

Angry Birds managed to ride its own coattails for a while, as games like Angry Birds Star Wars kept it relevant, by offering continual pseudo-sequels and expansions. But over time, Angry Birds was talked about less and less, and you started seeing Angry Birds plush toys lurking in the bins of discount stores.

Even the promise of a full-sequel, Angry Birds 2, failed to reignite anyone's passion for the franchise when it launched in 2015.

In 2016 Angry Birds became one of few gaming franchises to get its own feature-length movie, and from what I hear, it's okay. But 2016 was seven years removed from the game's original launch, and the heat had already died down.

Angry Birds was outside of the public consciousness, and mobile titles like Candy Crush Saga and Clash of Clans had long since become the defining mobile games.

Too much, still too late

If you go on the App Store or Google Play Store now and search for Angry Birds you will be blinded by a deluge of games. I did it myself this morning and found that there is an Angry Birds game which allows you to play some sort of PVP mode. It doesn't even appear to be about flinging birds from a catapult anymore.

It's hard not to think of Angry Birds as a franchise that has been milked for all it is worth, as fast as possible. It's a shame, but with so many spin-offs, movies, toys, merchandise, it's hard to know what the core of the series is anymore. This is a casual puzzle game about catapults and green pigs.

Luckily, for that classic blast of Angry Birds, you can still play Angry Birds 2. No, not the original, not anymore. And guess what? Even after playing it for a short amount of time, I can safely say it is still an enjoyable, charming experience that made me want to play one more level each time. If only the entire franchise could've kept that same magic.

Dave Aubrey
Dave Aubrey
Dave served as a contributor, and then Guides Editor at Pocket Gamer from 2015 through to 2019. He specialised in Nintendo, complaining about them for a living.