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Rovio takes down original Angry Birds from Google Play Store

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Finnish video game developer Rovio Entertainment Oyj recently announced that it had taken down Rovio Classics: Angry Birds from Google Play Store thanks to its “effect” on the developer’s other mobile games.

In 2019, the company removed multiple Angry Birds games from app stores “for testing purposes,” including the original from 2009. In April 2022, the original game was re-released under the name Rovio Classics: Angry Birds.

Less than a year after reviving it, Rovio decided to take down the game. The developer cited its impact on the success of the company’s other games, many of which rely on microtransactions.

The studio’s official statement, posted on social media, mentioned that the game’s name would be changed to “Red’s First Flight” in the App Store while it undergoes review.

Rovio said that it recognizes that this is disappointing news for many fans as well as the team that has worked tirelessly to “make Rovio Classics: Angry Birds a reality.” The company expressed gratitude to Angry Birds fans who have supported the brand and this game since its debut.

The studio declared its optimism that those fans will continue bringing that passion to their live “Angry Birds slingshot games” like Angry Birds 2, Journey and Friends.

The three Angry Birds games referenced in Rovio’s statement are all free-to-play games with microtransactions, whereas the 2022 Angry Birds cost $0.99 and featured no microtransactions or commercials.

However, Rovio’s note suggests that too many gamers were purchasing the $0.99 game rather than exploring the other, potentially more profitable titles.

Community manager Shawn Buckelew discussed the move on the Angry Birds Discord server. He explained that the removal is what the company needs. He added that this didn’t mean the company had no interest in recreating some classic events but that the company would need to get creative to protect its core business of live games.

Buckelew said the company’s stance would shift if these other games do not grow and develop. Developing new games and doing new initiatives, as he put it, is more challenging. “I’m sure that’s not something you would want,” he said.

Although the original games were not fully canceled, Buckelew said he did not want to “overpromise” when the studio had no concrete intentions to bring them back.

Angry Birds’ controversies

Fans generally recall Angry Birds as a harmless mobile game that emerged when most mobile games were in their infancy.

Since then, Angry Birds has crossed over with Star Wars, gotten two movies, a TV program and had a slew of spin-off games.

Despite this success, the developer has faced several controversies. In 2021, the attorney general of the U.S. State of New Mexico (NMAG), Hector Balderas, filed a lawsuit in federal district court against Rovio.

Balderas accused Rovio of exploiting minors financially through the app, selling virtual and tangible products related to the app and a range of tie-in media and merchandise. He explained that the developers exploited minors for financial gain by secretly collecting their personal information using the Angry Birds Game App.

The fact that minors were being offered targeted adverts proved that their data had been sold or shared with a third party. Balderas said this threatened children’s safety and violated the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act.

In Rovio Entertainment Corporation Financial Statement Bulletin published on February 9, the Espoo-based company said that the NMAG’s charges were without merit.

Rovio and the NMAG agreed to resolve the case on December 30, 2022. The company settled to “avoid the expense” of further litigation without admitting culpability or wrongdoing.

As part of the settlement, Rovio would donate $3,132,830.00 to a charitable cause and pay $1,117,170.00 in legal fees to the NMAG.