Rovio on the rise with game updates, talent buys

by Kristen Nicole

It’s been a whirlwind week for Android games, and we’re only halfway to Friday. Two major games hit the Google Play Store these past few days, with Rovio’s Angry Birds Space racking up over 10 million mobile and PC downloads in its first three days and Temple Run making its long-awaited debut to Android gamers.

But Space wasn’t the only update from Rovio’s camp this week. Angry Birds fans may be interested in the Rio update, which brings 12 new bonus levels to play. You’ll have to earn them though, through in-game achievements whether it’s by finishing all the levels in an episode, or by finding all the fruit in a certain episode. And to keep up with its booming success, Rovio also acquired Futuremark Games Studio for an undisclosed amount, bringing fresh talent to focus on their professional-grade benchmark software. In fact, the social/mobile gaming industry seems to be undergoing a bit of consolidation, as the Futuremark buy follows Zynga’s acquisition of OMGPOP for $200 million.

Growth in mobile game tech

The technology behind Android’s gaming industry is also evolving, with BlueStacks’ latest release bringing more Android apps to your Windows PC. Revealing a free beta version of its software this week, BlueStacks now supports most of Android’s 450,000 apps, enabling you to play an Android game on Windows 7, Vista or XP. Titles like Fruit Ninja and Angry Birds work pretty well, though it’s advisable to stay away from graphically-intensive 3-D games until the BlueStacks platform matures. And while BlueStacks is busy porting Android games to PCs, some hackers have found a way to bring Final Fantasy to Android (if you dare, see details here).

Others are seeking ways to further improve the hardware for mobile gaming, including Adobe and Nvidia. Adobe hopes to ramp up mass market gaming with the introduction of a number of high-end gaming features, including 3-D graphics and easier mobile porting. It’s all part of the latest version (11.2) of its Flash Player, partnering with Unity Technologies, maker of the Unity 3D game engine. This means browser-based games, such as those found on Facebook, will retain their “graphic fidelity” in the mobile realm, significantly extending the social and casual gaming market. Nvidia, on the other hand, announced their newest graphics card, the GTX 680, expected to make an appearance in future smartphones. Called the Kepler, Nvidia’s new chip is quite speedy and made for broad consumer affordability (not to mention energy efficient). It could prove an alternative to the Tegra 3 quad-core chip, expanding gaming capabilities on tomorrow’s mobile devices.