Attack of the apps: Popular smartphone games go offline, ready for a Christmas tree near you

Attack of the apps: Popular smartphone games go offline, ready for a Christmas tree near you

On a recent visit to Target in the US, the marketing power of the mobile app ecosystem was in full force. Only, it wasn’t in the electronics section. Mobile game makers have been porting their games back to traditional physical methods, and now they’re taking on some of the classic board games.

Rovio’s Angry Birds is, of course a prime example. (If you want to read up on the company’s strategy to take over the world via entertainment, read our recent profile on them: Inside the nest: After 3 years of Angry Birds, what’s next for Rovio?) On the shelf, I saw Angry Birds Knock on Wood and Angry Birds Space games. It makes perfect sense. The game itself is based on one of the most alluring forbidden fruits of childhood: the slingshot.

Credit: Mattel

Angry Birds Star Wars has been taking the world by storm(trooper) and it’s already got its own physical version as well: Angry Birds Star Wars Jenga Death Star Game. Mobile app? Check. Movie franchise? Check. Classic tower building game? Check.

Credit: Hasbro

Zeptolabs may have moved on from “Cut the Rope” to release its new Pudding Monsters, but Om Nom and friends are apparently still going strong in real life. Time to Play has a video review of the real life game, but I don’t think she’s playing it right.

There’s also a Temple Run card game, complete with a talking idol. I’d definitely buy my nephews a physical Temple Run game if it got them running around outside, but I don’t think that’s what this one’s about.

Credit: Amazon

Not to be left out, Disney sells a Where’s My Water? game. Swampy is on track to become a serious franchise for the media conglomerate, as the original smartphone version was designed with a full line of toys and movies in mind.

Monopoly has always been open to releasing tied-in versions of its game, but a Zynga CityVille partnership strikes me as a new low, at least for Hasbro. Zynga’s still exploring new lows on its own.

Speaking of Zynga, they’re also trying to capitalize on their DrawSomething acquisition and the success of Words with Friends. Maybe I’m just getting too old and crotchety, but that sounds a lot like Pictionary and Scrabble to me.
For all my griping, I’m actually glad that some of these digital games are making their way into real products. There are benefits to board, tabletop and card games that smartphone apps don’t have, and vice versa. It works both ways, too. Plenty of board games companies are seeing their physical sales go up after releasing app versions. I’ve been having fun playing against the AI on the new iPhone version of the Stone Age board game.

I’m sure loads of the above games will find their way under Christmas trees this week. I might be too old to appreciate some of these newfangled tie-ins, but it’s hard to object to them if these get kids away from their screens and interacting with their siblings and cousins.

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