back to article Angry Birds find new way to take your money

Addressing Android's lack of in-application billing, Rovio, the developer of Angry Birds, has begun asking network operators to collect the cash when a user wants to call for an air strike. In September, Rovio took to the stage to demonstrate how a customer who had purchased Angry Birds could buy an Eagle-powered air strike …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    Probably too much blood in the caffeine subsystem

    Is it just me reading this before the 4th espresso or some of the latest marketing shenanigans and "retention methods" in the mobile game arena seem to be take right out of the "Old Dope Peddler" textbook.


  2. Dave Murray Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    We don't need no steenking in game payments

    "imagine the frustration of the player who discovers his new network won't sell him a virtual weapon upgrade!"

    My network or a game publisher trying to sell me a virtual weapon upgrade would actually put me off the network / game. The point where Angry Birds starts trying to sell me new weapons is the point where I uninstall it.

    1. ThomH Silver badge

      I'd agree, but...

      ... the nag screen every time I launch the thing to log in to some online service for high scores and achievements that I don't care about and hence am not willing to give my contact details to already caused me to uninstall Angry Birds.

      1. MrT

        At least...

        ...Android users have been spared that nonsense, so far...

  3. Havin_it

    Paying for a high score

    I can just about understand pumping real money into something like Second Life for props, mortgages and whatnot if you spend half your life there (and can even profit there yourself), but to buy a smart-bomb in a basic single-player arcade game?*

    Worrying trend. And what true gamer would admit to paying for victory?

    *Hope this is right, someone explained the gist of the game to me and that's how I understand it.

  4. Matt 21

    I appreciate

    that nearly all the words you used in the article are English words but what on earth are you talking about? Angry birds? Air strike?

    What next, pi**ed off pigs? Annoyed ants?

    1. RegGuy

      Interesting point...

      ... I talked to my father the other day who has never used a computer. 'So how much does it cost to send email?' he asked.

      Hmm. I hope the distance between you and Angry Birds (prob also the same as between me and them) is shorter than that in my quote above.

      Oh, and wot's a 'droid? [only kidding]

    2. thecakeis(not)alie

      Angry Birds!

      Birds, BIRDS, birds. Birds which are angry. <3

      *goes back to flinging birds at pigs...*

    3. TeeCee Gold badge

      Re: I appreciate

      Seems to have come up a few time recently too.

      I reckon El Reg are trying to provide us with something new that we can all look down our noses at while shaking our heads sagely.

      Let's face it, iPhones, Twitter and Facebook are getting a bit stale.

  5. Kristian Walsh
    Thumb Up

    Operator Billing = Access to pocket money...

    Operator billing is essential to open up the biggest market for mobile games: young teenagers, and they don't have creditcards. iTunes has vouchers, but every teenager with a phone also has another, far more liquid account: their mobile credit, which they can top up in any newsagent.

    This is Ovi's big advantage over its rivals, and is a sign of Nokia playing to its strengths: because they've a business relationship with virtually every operator on earth, they're able to offer operator billing in more countries than you can even get Android Market in. For the pay-as-you-go customer (and around 60-70% of EU mobile customers are on PAYG contracts), this is by far the most accessible way of buying applications.

    1. RegisterThis

      and Apple's challenge ...!

      Apple set itself up in competition to the operator: 'You will just be a dumb bitpipe and we will own the customers ... you will get less and we will get more even if your service is ESSENTIAL to us actually being able to deliver our Apps or media'. So far the operators have 'tolerated' it because being able to sell the iPhone has meant the operator has been able to attract the high value contract customers where they got exclusivity. With the rise of Android and increasingly desirable and credible alternatives to the iPhone, this point of leverage gets less, and dealing with a Nokia/Ovi becomes more tolerable because it places the operator back in the value chain. Note I say 'value chain', because they were part of the supply chain, but totally divorced from the value of the service.

      Of course, what value there is in Angry Birds is debateable, but fools are soon parted with their money and the operators (key component in making it happen) want their slice.

  6. Anonymous Stoner
    Thumb Down

    So as Kristian put it...

    ...they can then succesfully tap into kiddies pocket money and make a killing out of yet another generation/age group that was previously safe from such cosmetic money pits...

    Also couln't agree more with Dave Murray

    1. Kristian Walsh

      ... it's not like kids don't buy videogames already.

      ...Just this time, they're using their "own" money to do it. If anything, it might help kids understand basic budgeting, rather than just "I want an X", without a concept of how much "X" costs.

    2. foo_bar_baz

      "cosmetic money pits"

      I'm all for future generations spending their money on immaterial epeen rather than material ego inflators that often

      a) are manufactured in 3rd world countries under bad conditions (eg. clothes and accessories)

      b) have a negative environmental impact from manufacture/delivery/usage/disposal (anything, but especially eg. sports cars)

      Could even have a positive impact on trade imbalance for us Westerners.

      Perhaps this is a tiny step towards the Star Trek like utopia where ownership of material goods is no longer the force driving people.

  7. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    1. Michael C

      nobody bu the regulators

      SURE, they could put up their own payment systems... if they had a crap-ton of servers, a staff costing a few million a year, and complied with the 60 different versions of local legislation and security requirements regarding collection of payments, and taxes, and disbursement of said taxes.

      Small devs DO NOT WANT that kind of hassle, nor even know the first things about SOX compliance, and the miriad of regulations tied to collecting payments. One company operating in one country, sure, and even THAT is a damned pain in the ass, and usually outsourced to a 3rd party web site.

      Apple made it easy, everything stored on servers they have to operate anyway either for iTunes, or just to sell hardware in various countries. No credit card information to type in, no account information stored in the phone, easy. For this to work ,google;s going to need to get in the micro-transaction game, or users are going to suffer for it. Even carrier specific processing is cumbersome, and it;s going to have both security and developer issues.

      1. billse10

        @Michael C and his "friends" the regulators

        "Small devs DO NOT WANT that kind of hassle, nor even know the first things about SOX compliance, and the miriad of regulations tied to collecting payments. One company operating in one country, sure, and even THAT is a damned pain in the ass, and usually outsourced to a 3rd party web site."

        well, yes and no. Small devs in most countries don't care about SOX. The myriad of regulations is nothing compared with telco billing - given your reference to SOX compliance I'm guessing you're US-based? I did some work about eight years ago with the then-trading Arthur Andersen where we looked a telco taxation for call charging - the US featured over 3000 different tax levels with different reporting requirements and forms to complete; the UK featured two. Compared with the former of the two showing an extremely inventive if incredibly immense stupidity, the mobile arena is fairly simple :-)

      2. M Gale

        Paypal, Google Checkout.

        I hear they have APIs. 10p plus 1% of transaction value is not all that bad a handling fee.

      3. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    2. MrT

      "stored Google checkout account"

      I think that's part of the issue - with iPhone you've more or less got to have an iTunes account so there's a payment path; with Android, Rovio gave the game away, so no-one needs to have a Checkout account to start playing it. They missed the trick there, and should've charged a nominal amount just to ensure they had the option of dipping into all users' credit cards later on.

      Agree and upvoted BTW...

  8. Anonymous Coward

    Operator billings made Simples.

    App sends a text to a premium rate number.

    why all the fuss?

    1. Jeff 11

      @AC 13:07

      "App sends a text to a premium rate number.

      why all the fuss?"

      Because letting apps send texts or dial numbers is the BIGGEST security no-no. Imagine one's surprise when a five figure bill comes in from an app sending thousands of these texts continuously in the background. App store payments absolutely have to be protected by an API layer and a trusted gateway, which is what iTunes is very good at.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Exactly my point

    As Tom Leher sings:

    He gives the kids free samples,

    Because he knows full well

    That today's young innocent faces

    Will be tomorrow's clientele.

    Dunno, it is probably my old man's sensibilities speaking, but the mere fact of admiring the "strength" of someone's position to do this makes me queasy...

  10. David Simpson 1
    Thumb Down

    Ummm ?

    Android doesn't lack in app billing.

  11. Cliff


    Runaway hit game, trying to extract all the cash they can before the next fad leaves it on the shelf.

  12. William Boyle

    Understanding why

    After having been stuck on some levels for weeks I can understand the temptation to call in for air support... :-) However, to me that is the beauty of this game, that no matter how "impossible" one level seems, you CAN get thru it. I've been in my current situation for a bit over a week, coming very close to getting thru it, so that I know how to do it. After you figure out the method, it all comes down to execution. So far, my execution has been lacking... :-)

    1. Michael C


      I just you-tubed the solution for any level I had issues with. I have 3 stars on every single level available on the original and the holidays version (accounting there's still half the December calendar still locked). If you have to pay to get past a level, you're doing it wrong. If there are levels that can not be beaten WITHOUT paying for them, it should be clearly documented that is the case, and transactions will be REQUIRED to complete the game (in which case I won't buy it).

      1. Stiggy

        Damn, you beat me to it

        Why the hell would anyone pay for something to cheat in a game like this, when the solution is seconds away, via the device you're already using, on YouTube?

  13. Uplink

    Google Checkout?

    I always ignore anything asking me for money so I may have missed this one. But... can't they just use Google Checkout for in-app billing, if they don't do so already? Code your company payment details in the app, your Google Checkout account ID or whatever, and get the money rolling, regardless of app market. I, the user, would then put my login details in the phone, and get asked for my password each time I want to make a payment, just like on the iPhone.

    But the other posters have a point: Google Checkout can't use your phone credit. You need a debit/credit card. Kids don't have debit/credit cards. But then again, I didn't know Apple could do this either...

    1. Full Mental Jacket


      Yes, Pocket Legends uses Google Checkout to buy in-game credits. Should kids really be allowed to spend money on games by that method? I'm getting flashbacks to premium rate ringtone operators.


    Pesky Parrots

    Everyone has gone insane. Pay ... for ... Angry Birds ?! I can go down the local pub on a Sat night out and find plenty of those.

    I have the annoying birds on my Android; It ceased its lure after the tenth level: I was on a train with plenty of time. Pleased that it was free, because I would have been saddened it I had to part with money for it.

    For a nice free game on Android I recommend Robo Defense, and for Windows or Linux (wine) Neocron or Anarchy Online -- Yeah :)

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