Mobile 'at the centre of gravity for entire industry'; Apple hailed as 'the game changer'

GDC11: Angry Birds ‘nears 100 million downloads’

The iPhone phenomenon Angry Birds is feasibly close to being downloaded 100 million times, an exec from the game’s creator has said.

Speaking earlier today at the Game Developers Conference, Rovio exec Peter Vesterbaka said the Finnish studio was close to that remarkable milestone.

“People were saying we were crazy when we set that [100 million download] target last year. Now, well what can I say? We are doing that.”

He did not appear to claim that target has been reached. Angry Birds has been a consistent top-seller on both iPhone and Android devices, and the game was recently advertised in a highly-lucrative Super Bowl commercial.

The title will soon port onto Microsoft’s Xbox 360, the PlayStation 3 and Nintendo’s upcoming handheld, the 3DS.

But Vesterbaka claimed that mobile remains where the real action is.

“When you look at the whole gaming market, the gravity has shifted to mobile. That’s where all the big new things are happening,” he said.

“These days developers port mobile games to consoles. That used to be the other way around. And today a lot of companies that take whatever console game IP they have and put it on mobile. That model doesn’t always work.”

Vesterbaka said it was Apple’s smartphone that turned Rovio’s game ideas into something that could strike oil.

“The iPhone changed everything,” he said.

“We really have to thank Apple for changing our business. The iPhone got us all away from the old carrier-led, soviet style gaming model. The focus these days is that developers just have to make good games – that’s the legacy of the App Store.

Rovio, which was founded in 2003, has made 52 games across numerous mobile platforms. The group even undertook various work-for-hire projects such as Need For Speed for EA.

Vesterbaka looked back on the old era with objection. He refereed to the J2ME format as “the bad old years”.

“Of course Apple is not perfect. The App Store is still got a closed system, but things have improved dramatically,” he said.

“We’ve only been one year into the Angry Birds experience – it’s been an amazing time.”

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