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下载《愤怒的小鸟》的25种方法

JP Mangalindan 2011年06月09日

Rovio公司开发的游戏巨制《愤怒的小鸟》之所以引人注目,一方面是因为游戏本身精彩绝伦;另一方面则是因为游戏及其衍生产品产生的巨大收益。

    在《愤怒的小鸟》(Angry Birds)的自然栖息地,也就是网络世界,你不难找到他们,因为他们就像曼哈顿的鸽子一样无处不在。

    2009年12月,《愤怒的小鸟》作为iPhone应用面世。 至今,其下载量已达2亿次(比三个月前报道的数字翻了一番)。所有新的智能手机中,30%都安装了这款游戏。去年12月以来,已经有5,000多万玩家购买了其惟一一款虚拟商品——“无敌神鹰”(即Mighty Eagle,它能清除整屏的敌人)。此外,该公司还售出了300万只毛绒玩具。在中国,正迅速成长的“愤怒的小鸟”被视为比肩迪士尼(Disney)和Hello Kitty三大品牌之一。至于Rovio公司最得意的成就,当然得算传闻中正在筹备的《愤怒的小鸟》电影版。

    对于绝大部分应用开发商,乃至任何内容生产商而言,这样的市场饱和度都是可望而不可及的。但是,Rovio公司真正的顾客对此却不大了解。这倒不是因为他们忙着用弹弓发射小鸟,没空关心这个。Rovio公司的天才之处在于,他们在各种平台、以各种价位吸引各个年龄段、兴趣或大或小的游戏玩家。Rovio通过引人入胜的游戏,使各类玩家都能轻松获得令人愉快的用户体验,并借此证明了传统媒体公司所畏惧的 “受众分层”(audience fragmentation)不一定是个负担,甚至可能变成一个优势。

    Rovio 公司特许经营部副总裁维勒•海杰瑞表示:“我们的业务完全是薄利多销。举例来说,我们在Android上发布免费版《愤怒的小鸟》,通过广告获利。”

    目前至少可通过25种不同办法来获得《愤怒的小鸟》。Rovio公司广泛撒网,将产品发布到了各类平台,其中包括:苹果(Apple)的iPhone和iPad;谷歌(Google)的Android;各种各样的“接口层”——不同运营商可以借此定制自己的“小鸟”;惠普的WebOS;诺基亚(Nokia)的塞班(Symbian),甚至在巴诺(Barnes & Noble)的Nook、索尼(Sony)的PSP(PlayStation Portable)和PlayStation 3上都能找到小鸟们的身影。

    Rovio公司最近还发布了《愤怒的小鸟》的续作——《愤怒的小鸟之里约大冒险》,玩家们这次面对的敌人从洋洋得意的猪头变成了小狨猴。Rovio提供了付费版、免费版、内置广告版以及时令版和非时令版更新。事实上,《愤怒的小鸟》版本众多和盈利渠道多样,很难一一追踪。以下我们列出了到目前为止有关《愤怒的小鸟》的所有版本及其衍生产品:

《愤怒的小鸟》

    iPhone:0.99美元付费版和免费“精简”版,后者可升级;

    Android:免费版,内置广告;

    iPad:2.99美元付费版和免费“精简”版,后者可升级;

    Mac:仅提供4.99美元付费版;

    Windows:“精简版”,用户支付4.95美元即可升级;

    Chrome:免费版;

    塞班:1.99美元付费版和免费“精简”版,后者可升级;

    PSP:0.99美元付费版;

    PlayStation 3:0.99美元付费版;

    Nook Color:4.99美元付费版;

    WebOs:1.99美元付费版;

    虚拟商品:“无敌神鹰”,售价0.99美元;

    《愤怒的小鸟时令版》:包括万圣节、圣诞节、情人节和复活节等更新;

    iPhone:0.99美元付费版和免费“精简”版,后者可升级;

    Android:免费版,内置广告;

    iPad:1.99美元付费版;

    塞班:1.99美元付费版和免费“精简”版,后者可升级;

《愤怒的小鸟之里约大冒险》

    iPhone:0.99美元付费版和免费“精简”版,后者可升级;

    Android:通过亚马逊(Amazon)发布的0.99美元付费版;

    iPad:2.99美元付费版和免费“精简”版,后者可升级;

    Mac:仅提供4.99美元付费版;

    Windows:“精简版”,用户支付4.95美元即可升级;

    塞班:1.99美元付费版和免费“精简”版,后者可升级;

    大事记:售出300万只毛绒玩具,从4.99美元的小鸟填充玩具到35美元的iPhone保护套,应有尽有;

    坏小子存钱罐(Bad Piggy Bank):Rovio公司正在测试的一项基于短信服务的支付系统,用户可以使用它支付游戏而无需注册或使用信用卡。(游戏费用将计入用户的月度账单。)

    以上数据构成了一张错综复杂的营收方案,从表面上看,这些价格很是荒谬:例如,既然iPad版只要1.99美元,那么用户为何要花4.99美元购买桌面版和Nook Color版?既然iPhone版的售价为0.99美元,那么为何Android版是免费的?

    Rovio公司首席营销官,人称“无敌神鹰”的皮特•韦斯特贝卡表示,产品定价很大程度上取决于应用程序商店里竞争的激烈程度,应用程序商店里的应用程序数量越多,价格就可能越便宜。这就是iPhone版售价为0.99美元,而即将在本月末上市的Windows Phone 7版售价大约定在2.99美元的原因。[截止到3月,苹果宣称其已拥有50万款iOS应用程序,而微软(Microsoft)仅仅拥有大约9,000款。]

    对于Android平台而言,《愤怒的小鸟》自然有免费的理由。Rovio的业务部门花费了大量时间寻找在不同平台发布游戏的最佳方法,该部门发现虽然付费内容在iPhone上运作良好,但在Android平台上的表现却差强人意,这就是他们最后选择谷歌AdMob模式的原因。将温和的广告模式与Rovio公司利用智能手机的能力结合起来,这就是《愤怒的小鸟》大获成功的原因,而Rovio公司利用智能手机的能力这一说法正是谷歌移动关系部主管克里斯•拉萨拉提出的。所以虽然Android版是免费的,但在很短时间里,Rovio公司就从中获得了仅次于iPhone平台的收入——每月进账超过100万美元。

    Rovio公司的策略现已初见成效。虽然一些报道声称该公司从成立至今已取得超过7,000万美元销售收入,但实际情况并非如此。Rovio公司在2010年取得的收益要低于1,000万美元,而2011年第一季度,公司收入攀升至2,000万美元,但这些收入仍然要远低于报道的数字。(韦斯特贝卡表示:“我们当时的重心并不是赚钱,而是切实提高品牌形象。”)

    从长远来看,Rovio公司的收入还会显著增加。该公司预计今年将取得7,200万至1.43亿美元收入,这一数字非常保守,根据最新公布的多款产品方案来看,此预期收入将会被轻松超过。Rovio公司刚刚公布与Roku达成价值数百万美元的合作协议:《愤怒的小鸟》、《愤怒的小鸟时令版》和《愤怒的小鸟之里约大冒险》将会被预装进机顶盒;还将开播一个专门频道以用来播放相关动画,Rovio刚刚收购的一家20人的动画工作室将负责该工作。(虽然韦斯特贝卡不愿明确表态,但他表示如果热议的《愤怒的小鸟》电影最终在内部完成制作,他不会对此感到意外。)此外,下列项目也正在进行之中:针对Facebook平台开发的多人版《愤怒的小鸟》;支持近场通信功能(near-field communications)的塞班独占版本,用户只需将各自手机靠在一起就能解锁新的关卡;两款为中国市场量身打造的版本。

    我们再来关注一下小鸟们的下一代全新版本:到2011年底,将有两款新的《愤怒的小鸟》上市,其游戏方式将完全不同于现有版本,可能将包含地理定位等新功能,以便将玩家吸引到商店和餐厅等场所。韦斯特贝卡已承认公司正在进行这方面工作,以便为Rovio开拓新的生财之道。

    风险投资公司Accel的合伙人里奇•王(Rich Wong)曾在今春主持该公司对Rovio的投资。他表示:“我们正在观察,看看Rovio模式能够发展到哪一步?这种模式又意味着什么?虽然现在为时尚早,但我认为,真正被消费者认可的品牌有能力以多种方式创收,而且将拥有漫长的生命周期。”

    因此,虽然Rovio的路还很长,但该公司自创建伊始,似乎就已经计划好要将《愤怒的小鸟》“弹入”高收益、高增长的轨道,而要做到这一点,它只需确保游戏玩家在几乎所有屏幕上都能玩这款游戏,用弹弓发射小鸟,击倒小猪。

    译者:项航

    You don't have to try very hard to spot Angry Birds in their natural habitat -- online -- because they are as ubiquitous as a Manhattan pigeon.

    Since launching as an iPhone app in December 2009, the franchise has been downloaded 200 million times -- double the number reported just three months ago -- and is available on 30% of all new smart phones. Its sole virtual good, the "Mighty Eagle," which clears the entire screen of enemies, has been purchased by more than 50 million users since December; three million plush toys have been sold, and in China, the growing franchise is considered one of the top three brands alongside the likes of Disney and Hello Kitty. The feather in Rovio's cap? Talks of an Angry Birds movie, of course.

    It's the kind of market saturation most app makers -- content makers of any kind, really -- only dream of. But it's one largely invisible to Rovio's actual customers. That's not because they're too busy slinging birds across their screens to care. Rather, Rovio's genius has been to appeal to game players across a wide variety of platforms, demographics, price points and interest levels. By putting a fun user experience with arresting game play at easy reach to all manner of players, Rovio has shown how the audience fragmentation traditional media companies are fearful of can be turned from a liability to an asset.

    "Our business is very much based on volume, which makes for example distributing the Android version of the game free with advertising profitable," says Ville Heijari, Vice President of Franchise Development for the game maker.

    There are actually at least 25 different ways to get Angry Birds. Rovio has cast a net so wide it spans multiple platforms: Apple's (AAPL) iPhone and iPad, Google's (GOOG) Android and the multitude of "interface layers" each carrier uses to differentiate itself, Hewlett Packard's WebOS (HPQ), Nokia's (NOK) Symbian, even Barnes & Noble's (BKS) Nook and Sony's PlayStation Portable and PlayStation 3.

    Then there's Angry Birds proper and the more recently-released Angry Birds Rio, which swaps out smug neon enemy swine for marmosets. There are paid, free, and ad-supported versions, seasonal and non-seasonal updates. In fact there are so many variations and revenue pipelines, it's hard to keep track. So here's a table of everything Angry Birds right now:

Angry Birds

    iPhone -- a $ .99 paid version and a free "Lite" version you can upgrade

    Android -- free, ad-supported

    iPad -- a $2.99 paid version and a free "Lite" version you can upgrade

    Mac -- $4.99 paid version only

    Windows -- a "Lite" version you can upgrade for $4.95

    Chrome -- free

    Symbian -- a $1.99 paid version and free "Lite" edition you can upgrade

    PlayStation Portable -- $.99

    PlayStation 3 -- $ .99

    Nook Color -- $4.99

    WebOS -- a $1.99 paid version

    Virtual good: the "Mighty Eagle," for $ .99

    Angry Birds: Seasons, with updates for Halloween, Christmas, Valentine's Day and Easter

    iPhone -- a $ .99 paid version and a free "Lite" version you can upgrade

    Android -- free, ad-supported

    iPad -- a $1.99 paid version

    Symbian -- a $1.99 paid version and free "Lite" edition you can upgrade

Angry Birds: Rio

    iPhone -- a $ .99 paid version and a free "Lite" version you can upgrade

    Android -- $. 99 via Amazon

    iPad -- a $2.99 paid version and a free "Lite" version you can upgrade

    Mac -- $4.99 paid version only

    Windows -- a "Lite" version you can upgrade for $4.95

    Symbian -- a $1.99 paid version and free "Lite" edition you can upgrade

    Memorabilia -- The 3 million plush toys sold, from $4.99 stuffed birds to a $35 iPhone case.

    Bad Piggy Bank -- an SMS-based payment system the company is still testing that will make it possible for users to pay for games without the need to register or use a credit card. (The amount is just added to a mobile user's monthly bill.)

    The result is a Byzantine monetization scheme with price rungs that are nonsensical on the face: Why for instance pay $4.99 for the desktop and Nook Color editions when the the iPad version is $1.99? Why shell out $ .99 for the iPhone app when the Android one is free?

    According to Peter Vesterbacka, the company's Chief Marketing Officer or "Mighty Eagle," pricing is based largely on how competitive each app store is -- the more apps there are in a particular app store, the lower the price will probably be. Which is why the iPhone version goes for $ .99 while the Windows Phone 7 app will sell somewhere in the ballpark of $2.99 when it hits later this month. (As of March, Apple laid claim to 500,000 iOS apps, while Microsoft (MSFT) had some 9,000.)

    As for the Android app, there's a reason it's on the house. The company's business side, which spends a lot of time figuring out the best distribution models across platforms, figured out that while paid content worked for say, the iPhone, it hasn't taken off on Android, which is why they went the Google AdMob route. The coupling of unobtrusive ads with what Chris LaSala, Google Director of Mobile Partnership, describes as Rovio's ability to leverage the smartphone, is why Angry Birds is such a smash. That's why, despite the free download, the Android app rakes in more than $1 million in sales each month, second only to the iPhone version.

    That scheme is really just starting to pay off. Contrary to some reports that the company has already made over $70 million in sales since launch, that isn't the case. In 2010 the company made less than $10 million, and during the first quarter of 2011, the franchise brought in only $20 million -- well short of the reported amount. ("Our concern wasn't making money then, but focusing on really improving the brand," says Vesterbacka.)

    But moving forward, those numbers should climb significantly. Rovio expects to make between $72 million and $143 million this year, a very conservative estimate the company implies could easily be surpassed based on the number of products in their pipeline, including a just-announced multi-million dollar partnership with Roku where Angry Birds, Seasons, and Rio will come pre-installed on set-top boxes and a dedicated channel that will air animated shorts from the company's just-acquired 20-person animation studio. (Though he won't confirm it, Vesterbacka says he wouldn't be surprised if the much-talked about Angry Birds movie is developed in-house, as a result.) Also in the works: a Facebook-friendly multiplayer-focused version of the game for Facebook, a Symbian-exclusive version with near-field communications (NFC) -- which will give players the ability to unlock new stages by simply tapping devices together -- and two heavily-customized versions of the games for the Chinese market.

    And look out for an entirely new breed of annoyed avian: By the end of 2011, there will be two new Angry Birds entries sporting gameplay entirely unlike the current crop, possibly including features like geolocation, which Vesterbacka admits the company is tinkering with, to draw foot traffic to stores and restaurants -- opening up yet another revenue stream for Rovio.

    "I think we're learning how far this can go, and what all the contours can mean," says Rich Wong, a partner with Accel who led the venture capital firm's investment in Rovio this past spring. "It's still very early days, but I would simply say that brands that become authentic consumer franchises can be monetized in a very broad range of ways and have very long lives."

    So while it's still early going for Rovio, the company from day one seems to have created a gameplan to slingshot Angry Birds into profitability and growth, all by making sure gamers can slingshot birds into pigs (or marmosets) on nearly any screen they can find.

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