Angry Birds, the immensely popular game app for smartphones and tablets, is coming to the Roku. Roku and Angry Birds developer Rovio announced today that they are partnering to bring Big Birds to the TV for the first time.
Their press release states that "Roku will offer Angry Birds, Angry Birds Seasons and Angry Birds Rio video games; launch an Angry Birds video channel featuring Angry Birds animated shorts; and sell Angry Birds merchandise—all via the Roku Channel Store."
Several games are already offered on the Roku, including Video Poker, Four in a Row, Mah Jongg, Hogoword, and Reversi. However, the entry of Rovio and the addition of the established Angry Birds brand with its strong following (more than 200 million downloads) is a potential game changer (no pun intended) for Roku. At the very least, it could bring about a shift in the perception of the Roku DVP as more than just a Netflix viewer.
ZDNet blogged that "[w]ith this move into the gaming world, it could soon be considered competitive with lower-priced gaming consoles such as the Nintendo Wii. Obviously, for avid and frequent gamers, there is still no contest, especially with the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. But for the casual gamer who just wants some extra features on the set-top box but doesn’t want to shell out $250-$300 for a console, this could fit the bill."
Details are still forthcoming, including pricing, when the channel will be available in the Roku Channel Store, and how the game will be played. Current Angry Birds apps take advantage of smartphone and tablet touch screens. One possibility is to use a smartphone to control the game, as there are now apps available to replace the standard Roku remote. It should also be possible to program the game to use the current remote so that the directional buttons move into position the bird that is to flung. I wouldn't be surprised, though, if Roku starts marketing wireless game controllers similar to those for the Xbox or Wii. The addition of a real game controller could really open the doors to new games on the Roku.