Angry Birds as a Social Game on Google+

Rovio’s Angry Birds is still one of the top-rated apps on iOS and Android 20 months after its initial release, but it’s not clear how the game will fare on social platforms like Google+.

Right now, the game is available as one of the launch titles on the Google+ Games platform. Like many other titles in the lineup, Angry Birds is not currently monetized through the sale of virtual goods (in contrast to Edgeworld, which features full monetization identical to its Facebook version). However, the game prominently features ads for real-world Angry Birds merchandise, such as stuffed animals and shoulder bags. In its original mobile incarnation, Angry Birds made its money on a combination of one-time download sales for the full version, the sale of an “eagle” that let users pass difficult levels, and from advertising that appears in the free limited version.

As a social game, Angry Birds doesn’t do anything terribly different from the limited free version available on iOS and Android. The game is controlled via mouse where a click-and-drag motion launches birds toward the physics puzzle and scrolling with the mouse zooms in or out of the puzzle. The only “native” social game feature we observe is a friend gate after level 2 — where players cannot progress past a certain level without inviting new users to come and play.

For those unfamiliar with friend gates as a viral growth tool, a social game will sometimes present a user with a challenge that cannot be completed without the “help” of a certain number of friends. For example, in the recently-launched The Sims Social on Facebook, players need at least three friends to complete an addition to their virtual home. Players can choose from a list of all of their Facebook friends or from a limited list of friends that are already playing The Sims Social. The room becomes “complete” once three people have Accepted the invite. Facebook’s guidelines for developers limit the number of invites players can from a game per day.

As for potential monetization methods, it would make sense for Rovio to offer players a way to buy individual levels or premium levels. Rovio has already made use of platform-exclusive premium levels to incentivize players on new platforms, like the PlayStation Portable or the Web GL version of Angry Birds for Google Chrome, but not here. Additionally, there is precedent set by other arcade games that became “social” through the sale of special power-ups to increase scoring potential.

Google+ announced its Games platform last week.