Quick: name the number one game on Android right now. Did you guess Asteroids? Pac-Man? Perhaps Pong? Nope, it’s Angry Birds, as even a casual gamer and any holiday shopper could tell you, now that its branded merchandise adorns the shelves of nearly every retailer in the US. Speaking to Industry Gamers, Henk Rogers took offense to this fact, calling out Rovio’s aviary opus. “Angry Birds is cute and everybody plays it for a while but they get burned out and move on and they will play another game.” Rogers aught to know: he’s the manager for The Tetris Company, which he owns in partnership with the game’s original creator Alexey Pajitnov.
Rogers compares gaming classic Tetris to a sport, apparently without irony. “I think once people have played it more than 20 or 25 years you can say it’s here to stay, it’s a sport, it’s no longer a fad.” Ignoring for a moment the idea that pressing buttons in seriously being compared to athletic competition (and no, Starcraft players, putting an “e” in front of it doesn’t make it any less annoying), the interview definitely smells like sour grapes. Considering that Angry Birds has been downloaded and played by more than fifty million Android users in the last year alone, to say nothing of its even more popular iOS versions, I’d say it’s a certifiable pop culture phenomenon – not unlike Tetris in 1987.
Now all that being said, Angry Birds is a fad, at least at this point. Oh, it’s made its creators millions and millions of dollars, certainly, and Rovio is even considering an initial public offering soon. But without another hit in the same vein, the company will collapse under its own weight, like so many before it that had a short-lived hit. Rovio is being smart, licensing their aggravated fowl to everyone who wants it, and releasing regular updates to bring addicts in for another 30 levels. But even if it is a fad, saying so from a high horse and trading off the same idea for more than 25 years is more than little facetious. The last time a major release of Tetris met with any critical acclaim was the Nintendo DS version almost six years ago – and that was published by Nintendo itself. We’ll pay more attention to The Tetris Company’s backseat driving when they break back in to the top 20 on the Android Market charts.[via Droid Gamers]