March 18, 2011

Finicky iOS Users Rebelling Over Rovio's Angry Birds "Ads"

Mobile app downloaders have come to expect a lot from their apps. iOS reviewers on Apple's iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad platform are notorious for being among the harshest raters across the app store landscape - as likely to drop a single star rating as a glowing five start mark, and practically demanding that advertising be limited to free apps.

A point upgrade today to the seemingly invincible Angry Birds franchise from Rovio has iOS reviewers up in arms, thanks to in-game house ads that tout other extensions of the brand, from stuffed toys to begging for Facebook likes and YouTube views. The result, the practically permanent high flier has crashed down in a fluff of feathers with a deluge of one-star rants.

As Angry Birds all too excitedly notes in the latest revision of the game, the average rating on the iTunes Store for the app was 4.78 stars out of 5. Users love flicking birds at pigs. It's a given. But with version 1.5.3, the 99 cent app brought ads that appear when the game is paused - just as on the Android platform - and this alone has dropped the franchise into hater territory. The current version is bumping along at an average of 3 stars, rising with each upvote and dropping with each slam, and the stream of comments is mercilessly opposed to this new tactic.

A sea of 1 star ads for the latest Angry Birds Update

"Ads should never be in a paid version of anything. Way to alienate your huge fanbase rovio. Greedy is what it is", writes Dana Levitt in her one-star review. 
"Version 1.5.3 deserves negative stars for adding grappy adds. I pay for apps NOT to have ads." piles on Barbara Klein in her one-star missive. 
"... I (like others) am incensed at the barrage of ads when you pause the game," says MadDownpour.
There are many more just like this (as you can see on the iTunes page hosted by Apple).
The Hated Ads Show When the Game is Paused

The one-star ratings for the previously beloved game are plentiful, and the reasoning seems pretty straight forward. Users believe that if they have paid good money, even if it's 99 cents, they deserve to go ad-free, no matter what type of ads those are. Given Rovio is soaring right now, with talk of an IPO, the movie tie-in with Rio, and months in the spotlight, it'll be surprising to see if they are tarnished by ticking off this excitable user base.

As for us on Android? The banner ads are a pain, but you're not charging, so I think we can deal with it.

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