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Angry Birds nets new attack eagle, revenue stream

Rovio Mobile, developer of the popular game, introduces an all-powerful new character that will cost players extra money to use.

Mikael Hed, CEO of Angry Birds creator Rovio, speaks at Nokia World.
Mikael Hed, CEO of Angry Birds creator Rovio, speaks at Nokia World.
Stephen Shankland/CNET

LONDON--The creator of the popular Angry Birds game for mobile devices is adding a new character--and new profit-making potential along with it.

Rovio Mobile currently offers a limited free version of the game and a constant series of new levels to those who pay for Angry Birds. The new character, an all-powerful bird called the Mighty Eagle, can be bought within the application when players want to blast their way through a level they can't pass with the conventional arsenal, said Rovio CEO Mikael Hed, speaking here at the Nokia World conference.

That means even those who've paid for the application will get an opportunity to pay more. The approach is similar in games such as Zynga's FarmVille, in which people can spend money to advance more quickly than with the free version.

"The key point from a business perspective is that the Mighty Eagle is declaring the end of games as a commodity and the beginning of games as a service," Hed said. To use it, a mobile phone's software and application store needs the ability to let people make purchases from within the game.

The new Mighty Eagle character in Angry Birds.
The new Mighty Eagle character in Angry Birds Rovio

"In-app [purchasing] capabilities provide a remarkable opportunity to provide extraordinary content to our most engaged customers," Hed said. Nokia just added that ability to its Ovi store for applications.

Rovio intends the Mighty Eagle is to be used by players frustrated with their inability to advance. The Angry Birds plot line (prepare to suspend a little disbelief here) involves birds with various destructive attributes trying to demolish structures built by greedy pigs. The player uses a slingshot to shoot the birds.

The Mighty Eagle, summoned with a can of fish, obliterates a tricky structure.

"The Mighty Eagle is truly a silver bullet to solve all your problems in one shot," Hed said. It "can be used to clear any one level instantly. If you wish to use it later in the game, you must clear [the earlier level destroyed with the eagle] using the standard selection of birds."

If you're really into the narrative structure, check out Rovio's Mighty Eagle video.

Angry Birds is available on Nokia N900 devices, which use the Linux-based Maemo 5 OS. The game is also found on Apple iOS products and WebOS devices and is in beta testing for Android devices. It will be available later this year for phones with the Symbian operating system, Hed said.