Rovio Mobile have announced that a game called Amazing Alex will be its first post-Angry Birds project.
It was just last week that Rovio acquired Casey’s Contraptions, an iPad game that requires players to build Rube Goldberg-like contraptions from various elements in order to solve puzzles. As AfterDawn reports, a lot of those elements will be a part of Amazing Alex, although the details are still pretty sketchy at this point. Rovio says the game will involve “a curious young boy who loves to build things,” as well as some educational aspects. What we do know is that Rovio intends to have the game out later this year starting with Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android platforms, and then move on to others such as PC and Mac. Of course, that’s assuming one big thing in all of this: that Amazing Alex is going to be a hit and that it will be worthwhile for Rovio to spread it around to multiple platforms, the way it has Angry Birds.
It’s hard not to think of Amazing Alex in the shadow of the bird-flinging empire that Rovio has created. The company just announced that the franchise has tallied more than a billion downloads across all the platforms for which it is available. Angry Birds has merchandise that, last year, was pulling in $1 million every day, there’s talk of a cartoon show and a movie, and there’s even an Angry Birds theme park in the works.
Rovio has captured lightning in a bottle in a very real way with Angry Birds. It’s insanely popular and has spawned several iterations as well as one true sequel, and all continue to do extremely well. And then there’s Amazing Alex – an untested, virtually unknown game that represents Rovio’s first step back into the world of game design after the flood of Angry Birds success. Casey’s Contraptions (no longer available) was well-liked on the iPad by critics, but failed to make much of a commercial dent; and with Rovio’s rebranding, it won’t even have what minimal recognition the original name would have brought it.
There’s a big shadow out of which Amazing Alex has to step. The plus side is that Rovio Mobile is going to be able to set Amazing Alex in the limelight and should be able to turn its huge Angry Birds fan base to this new game and set them loose. But the success of Amazing Alex is probably going to rely less on just how good it is and more on how well Rovio is able to leverage its own brand. People need to know the name “Rovio Mobile” so that when they see a game from Rovio hit the App Store, they think, “I loved Angry Birds, so I need to check this out.”
Do people surfing the iTunes App Store know Rovio’s name? Do they know the makers of Angry Birds at all? Some certainly do, but it’s tough to say just how recognizable the brand is. Amazing Alex’s success level will likely be a good barometer for figuring out whether Rovio is a name people are coming to know and trust. Long term, it will likely not be the name Angry Birds that continues to sell games for Rovio, but the Rovio name itself: Amazing Alex is bound to be a test for just how powerful that name has become.