Rovio makes original 'Angry Birds' free to reignite downloads

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Rovio Entertainment is making the original version of its blockbuster mobile game Angry Birds available as a free download from Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) App Store.

Rovio is making its original Angry Birds app free on Apple's App Store.

Angry Birds for iPhone was previously priced at 99 cents, with its iPad counterpart available for $2.99. The change, first spotted by app discovery service Appsfire, signals the first time Rovio has ever made these versions of the game available for free since Angry Birds first went live in late 2009, although premium in-app purchases like the 99-cent Mighty Eagle booster remain available for purchase.

Rovio told TechCrunch the decision to offer Angry Birds for free coincides with Apple naming the game the App Store's app of the week; in addition, the latest update brings 15 new gaming levels. But observers have also noted there are currently no Rovio titles among the top 80 highest-grossing iPhone apps for the first time since May 2010, and making Angry Birds free could generate the consumer enthusiasm necessary to reverse the trend.

The Angry Birds franchise topped the 1 billion cumulative download mark in 2012. Rovio has spun off the property into stuffed toys, t-shirts and a forthcoming animated online series. The publisher has also released a number of Angry Birds sequel games including Angry Birds Space--on Thursday, Rovio released an updated version of the title featuring a new theme song performed by rock guitar god Slash.

Last month, Rovio unveiled a new advertising division spearheaded by former Apple, MTV and Millennial Media (NYSE:MM) executives. The new unit will create custom advertising programs for brands like McDonalds, Warner Brothers, Campbell's and others, letting them promote their products and services inside Rovio games--for example, inserting a branded item into the background or foreground of an Angry Birds level, or integrating the product directly into the game mechanics.

For more:
- read this TechCrunch article
- read this Verge article

Related articles:
Rovio launches advertising division, plans in-game product and brand placement
Angry Birds Star Wars tops App Store download rankings in record time
Rovio, LucasFilm launch Angry Birds Star Wars for iOS, Android and Kindle Fire
Nokia, Rovio team for Windows Phone-exclusive Angry Birds Roost
Angry Birds downloads, merchandise revenues top $106 million in 2011
Angry Birds Space soars past 50M downloads in 35 days

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