A Tetris staffer believes that Angry Birds will fly the coop while Tetris will remain block solid.
If you inhabit the planet Earth and have access to any kind of electronic device more complex than a toaster, there is a good chance that you have played either Tetris or Angry Birds. These two juggernauts of casual gaming generally coexist peacefully on smartphones and internet browsers everywhere, but Henk Rogers, managing director of The Tetris Company, does not believe it will always be so. According to the man who controls Tetris sales and merchandising, Angry Birds may be riding the popularity thermals now, but Tetris will still be around long after the flock has flown into the sunset.
The Angry Birds IP makes 40% of its revenue from merchandising. Rogers discussed this phenomenon while noting that selling Tetris swag is not easy without any recognizable characters. “Unless we come up with cute little aliens, I don’t see how we’re going to compete with them on the merchandising,” he said. “Any time you have a character like an Angry Birds character, the games that have those as their central theme, they become popular and then they go away.” According to Rogers, the fact that Tetris has captivated millions of players over the course of a quarter-century is a testament to both its quality and its position in modern pop culture. “I think once people have played it more than 20 or 25 years you can say it’s here to stay … it’s no longer a fad. Angry Birds is cute and everybody plays it for a while but they get burned out and move on and they will play another game.”
Rogers is right to assert that Angry Birds, despite its massive popularity, has yet to stand the test of time. However, suggesting that identifiable characters make a franchise ephemeral is a somewhat baffling statement. Series like Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda, Metal Gear, and Monkey Island have managed to stay both relevant and profitable for over two decades, and they share characters just as much as gameplay mechanics. As for the future, Tetris certainly has history on its side, but if there’s one thing the cast of Angry Birds is good at, it’s knocking down blocks.