Roku partners with Rovio for Angry Birds

The set-top box maker says Angry Birds, Angry Birds Seasons, and Angry Birds Rio will make a showing on its devices. An Angry Birds video channel will also launch.

Egg-swiping pigs are coming to a Roku box near you. Rovio

Roku has inked a deal with Angry Birds creator Rovio to bring the company's video games to its set-top boxes.

The companies have entered into a "strategic partnership" that will see Angry Birds, Angry Birds Seasons, and Angry Birds Rio come to Roku's Channel Store, Roku said late yesterday. An Angry Birds video channel with game-themed animated shorts, as well as a marketplace to buy game-related merchandise, will also be available in the Channel Store.

However, a Roku representative confirmed to CNET today that the games will not be available on the company's current hardware. Instead, the titles will be made available to owners of new hardware expected to launch this summer.

Roku has come a long way since its initial set-top box launched in 2008. Earlier this year, the company announced that more than 1 billion content streams have been sent to TVs through its set-top boxes, which currently range in price from $59.99 to $99.99. It currently offers more than 250 entertainment options in its Channel Store, which basically acts as an applications store, allowing people to add those channels to their personal menu and watch the content associated with them.

Netflix, Hulu Plus, Pandora, and NBA Game Time are among the channels Roku offers.

However, this is the first time that Roku has indicated it wants to get into gaming. And the company says it's only the beginning. Roku revealed in its press release that it's currently negotiating with "other casual game providers and aggregators" to bring more games to its set-top boxes. It expects to make more announcements within the "next few weeks."

"Angry Birds is the most popular and fastest growing casual game, yet [it] has been trapped on mobile devices," Roku founder and CEO Anthony Wood said in a statement. "We believe there's a huge market for games like these on the TV. Just as we were the first to enable Netflix to stream instantly to the TV, we intend to be the catalyst for transforming the way people play casual games--starting with Angry Birds--on the biggest screen in the home."

Even so, Roku won't be alone. Rovio announced last year that it plans to bring a console version of Angry Birds to the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Nintendo Wii this year. The move is part of a broader strategy on the game creator's part to bring its wildly popular title to more than just mobile devices. The game is now available on PCs and Macs, in Google's Chrome Web Store, and elsewhere.

Along the way, Rovio has watched its game become the biggest title in casual gaming. According to the company, Angry Birds has been downloaded more than 200 million times since its launch in 2009. The company has also sold over 3 million units of Angry Birds merchandise.

Updated at 7:05 a.m. PT with new details on launch.

 

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