Dec 13 AT 12:25 PM Sean Riley 23 Comments

Rovio continues to test new ad models with pregame videos in Angry Birds

Angry Birds arrived on Android just two months ago and has already been downloaded over 7 million times (probably over 10 million after the release of Angry Birds Seasons). This is certainly due in part to the app being free in the Android Market, but crisp graphics and addictive gameplay play a significant role in its success as well.

We have heard recently that Rovio will be opening up their own payment system early next year for in-app purchases via carrier-billing. Known as “Bad Piggy Bank” this will allow users to pay to upgrade to an ad-free version or to buy virtual goods. But at the moment they only have one Finnish carrier confirmed as being on board and when or if this system will reach the majority of carriers is anyone’s guess so we’ll continue to concentrate on the ad-supported version for now.

When asked why they offer Angry Birds for free on Android they have replied “because that is the Google way” and when pressed on the fact that not all games on the Android Market are free they replied with the assertion that “the ones with more than 50K downloads are….” I’m not sure what led them to that bit of hyperbole, but if you check the Android Market you will find that Fruit Ninja which is available for 99 cents claims over 2 million downloads and there are numerous other paid games ranging in price from $1-$5 that all report over 50,000 downloads.

The reality is that Rovio likely stands to earn more long term from the ad supported version than the 99 cents that they charge for Angry Birds in the Apple App Store. This theory is born out by Peter Vesterbacka of Rovio who stated that by the end of the year they would be earning more than a million dollars a month from the ad-supported version of Angry Birds and in the new developer series from Google reported that they were very pleased with their results on Android.

This brings us to the most recent addition to the ad repertoire for Angry Birds and that is pregame videos from AdMob. If you haven’t seen one of these ads yet you can watch the video below for a couple samples (apologies for the audio). Now you can skip the ad using the button in the lower right corner of the screen or by hitting the back button while it is playing, but it is another layer of advertising to Angry Birds in addition to the banner ads which still run in the upper-right corner of the screen during the game itself. Personally I feel that all of this advertising detracts from what is an excellent and visually appealing game.

Rovio had an opportunity to show that compelling content will sell well on Android and instead opted to go ad-supported, which in the end has proved to be a profitable and successful model for them. My hope, however, is that the takeaway for game developers is that there is a strong desire for good games on Android and not that free ad-laden games are the only viable option.

Sean has been with Android and Me for over 8 years and covering mobile for the last 9. He occasionally muses about gadgets and tech outside of the Android universe at Techgasms.

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  • http://Website martin

    i wonder how the game will load if the phone is offline. the game should work just fine in ariplane mode. i hope loading of the game doesnt get messed up/take a long time if the video ad is taking a long time to download.

    if startup time for the game is alot longer because its trying to resolve the adds, then thats going to be pretty shitty.

  • Dave K

    Use AdFree. Problem solved.

    • http://Website John mansfield

      I do and i haven’t seen a single one of angry birds ads. But i will buy the app once its possible to do so.

      • Azeem

        Completely agreed. The only reason I’m blocking the ads is because they interfere with the gameplay. As soon as it’s available for purchase, though, I’ll gladly hand over the money. That being said, I did play with the ads there for about 3 months, so they made enough off of those from me already.

    • Donald

      i use adfree and still see ads in a lot of games including this one. Maybe im not using it right.

      • http://Website Camille

        Adfree is only for phones that have been rooted.

  • http://Website p0upoune

    I think it was a good idea to get it from getjar instead of the market for this one. If we have to support so big ads while loading the game, it’s going to be boooooooooooooring. From getjar, no update spotted for the normal version <3

    And yes, with their so big vid, what will happen if i'm not on wifi ? Use my 3G connection which i don't want to use since it's so expensive in my country ?

    No seriously, that's just too much !

    • Sean Riley

      I did test and found that the video ads come up on both WiFi and 3G.

  • http://Website Brian H

    WTF, they force TWO types of ads on us now? I’m about ready to delete Angry Birds from my phone at this point. It’s a fun game, but it’s not so great that it’s worth being bombarded with advertisements. I’ve already made it a point to stop playing for now.

    I wish Rovio would stop treating us like we’re stupid. They come up with all sorts of reasons for the fact that they don’t offer a paid version, but we all know that it’s pure greed. This whole “Google way” is a hollow excuse.

    • http://Website mikeyDroid

      That’s like saying you won’t watch tv anymore, or listen to the radio, or open your eyes when you’re walking down the street. Good luck with that one.

      • http://Website Brian H

        What in particular made you so eager to criticize me? If Angry Birds was an ad-only game on iOS, I wouldn’t have said a thing. But the fact that they give one group the option to pay for the game and opt out of ads, while forcing the ads upon Android users, is what irritates me. That would be more akin to a company like Apple selling paid TV episodes in their app store for OS X, but only allowing Windows users to download free episodes with tons of advertisements.

        • mikeyDroid

          You’re right, sorry for jumping on you. I just don’t mind ads since they’re everywhere in life but each to his own.

          I’m also rooted with an ad blocker so I guess I’m just scum :)

          I see what you’re saying I just don’t get the martyr part of it all.

  • http://Website Derek

    I just run a ROM build that has a built in ad-blocker. I dont get ads in any free software, its great!

  • http://Website Dan

    Rovio is really starting to get on my nerves with all these ads. Would be happy to pay for it, but maybe not for much longer…

  • ZackC456

    Here’s a better idea, Rovio. Make a free, ad-support, version that anyone download and an ad-free version that costs as much as the iOS version. That way, everyone wins and you still get money.

  • LukeT32

    I agree with Brian H…. what about people with a capped data plan. Everytime they want to play a game on their phone they have to use some of their limited data to download video ads…

    At some point enough is enough.

    • http://Website Brian H

      Thanks for the support. I hadn’t even thought about data caps, that’s another selfish thing on their end, if you ask me. I think Zack’s idea is ideal, but given their current MO, I’m starting to lose hope. I’ve emailed them twice since Angry Birds was released, asking for a paid version and inquiring when one might be available. They never responded to either. For a company that’s making as much as they are, you would think that they would at least do customer support.

  • http://Website Catalectic

    Already dumped this game after the ads moved to the top. It didn’t help reading in the NYTimes about how much cash Rovio has made from these greedy little ads. I find these types of these things pushing me away from android. Rovio could have offered a paid version but didn’t because they make more money this way. I completely agree with Steve blocking Admob and Googles vision of advertising. With this much advertising my phone and service should be free.

  • http://Website Nick Overstreet

    What ads? lol

  • http://Website Who’s Angry?

    I don’t understand why they moved the ads from bottom right to top right unless it’s a deliberate ploy for accidental click throughs, as it’s borked the game; any high trajectory shot ends up unplayable if a second click is required as you can’t see the bird.

    Oh the irony of people making a game with greedy pigs being the bad guys, becoming greedy pigs themselves. It’s a great game, but this is getting pretty despicable when they’ve made so much money already.

    The ad views are the same in either version, which is where the bulk revenue supposedly is, so why get piggy with the greed for a few extra clicks? They’ve made a bundle, but are asking for a huge backlash if they push their snouts into the trough too deep, and if I see this vid ads sucking my download limit, it’ll be uninstalled faster than you can say hogwash. Certainly won’t be updating AB any time soon.

  • http://Website Brian H

    Just. Deleted. Both. Games. Sigh. For a game that I just find occasionally enjoyable, it’s not worth how angry it makes me. I’ll come back if and when they offer a paid version.

  • http://Website John

    I have a hard time believing that they’re making $1m a month on just ads.