In-App Birdchases: Play Angry Birds On Facebook For Free, But Pay To Win

Angry Birds has just launched on Facebook, and developer Rovio is trying out a different business model that flocks together with other freemium games on the social network. Rather than make you pay $1 up front for a mobile download, there’s 4 new powerups that you can buy for cheap – just $1 for 20 uses.

By expanding its in-app purchases beyond the level-beating Mighty Eagle, Rovio could earn higher a higher average lifetime revenue per user for itself and Facebook rather than squeezing a single golden egg from players upon install.

In classic freemium style, you get the first power-ups free, but more uses will cost you. There’s the Sling Scope for pinpoint targeting, Birdquake to shake down precariously perched pigs, Super Seeds for stronger birds, and the King Sling for a velocity boost. Those looking to fire birds for eternity can buy 1000 uses of any power-up for $20. These purchases combine with mobile app sales and physical merchandise to make Rovio a very well monetized developer.

Rovio has also nested some enhanced social features to foster pig-smashing community and juice up user acquisition. You can see high scores of friends and invite others to compete through the flash game’s sidebar. You can also send free power-up gifts to friends that appear as Facebook notifications they’re sure to see, which will definitely help Angry Birds with virality.

There’s no doubt that drawing back the Angry Birds slingshot is more satisfying with a touch screen than a mouse or trackpad. The power-ups also make the game so easy that Rovio will need to keep pumping out levels to maintain user interest. Facebook must be excited, though, since this is one less talking point for the Google+ platform which got Angry Birds in August.

Overall, this is a solid port that intelligently incorporates in-app purchases and social functionality. Expect Facebook to continue courting top native mobile app developers to join its web and HTML5 mobile platform. It may not have been the early bird, but Cut The Rope, Where’s The Water, Temple Run, and Angry Birds could still help Facebook catch the juicy revenue worm.