‘We want to make NFC important for gaming worldwide’ says Angry Birds maker

As well as having a new NFC-enabled Angry Birds game pre-installed on all Nokia C7 phones, publisher Rovio aims to integrate NFC into a new Facebook game, its range of Angry Birds plush toys and in-store posters that players can touch to gain in-game benefits.

Angry Birds Free with Magic NFC
ANGRY BIRDS: Now with added NFC

“We think we can make NFC cool,” Matthew Wilson from Angry Birds publisher Rovio Mobile told delegates attending the Wima NFC conference and exhibition in Monaco this week.

The games maker, which revealed details of its first NFC initiative, Angry Birds Free with Magic, earlier this week is looking at a wide range of ways in which near field communication technology could be used to enhance the overall game playing experience, Wilson explained.

Rovio’s most popular games before Angry Birds were the Bounce series that came pre-installed on Nokia phones. The company’s existing relationship with Nokia led to the development of the new NFC game but, Wilson told delegates, the company’s plans for the technology go beyond this one game: “We want to make NFC important for gaming worldwide.”

Angry Birds Free with Magic will arrive on the Nokia C7 as part of the forthcoming Symbian Anna update, which will also turn on the NFC functionality built into the phone. The game will also be included on all of Nokia’s NFC-enabled Symbian ^3 and Meego devices in 2011.

Future plans for NFC, Wilson told Wima delegates, include:

  • Integrating NFC tags into Angry Birds plush toys. The tags will be built into the toys behind the character’s left eye. “We’ve already sold millions of these” [without NFC], said Wilson. Reading the tag with an NFC phone could unlock levels or deliver Facebook Credits.
  • Integrating NFC tags into plush toy display bins, in-store promotional posters and Mighty Eagle toys. Here, says Wilson, NFC could be used to drive foot traffic to retailers that stock its merchandise. Players could gain in-game benefits or credits in return for checking-in at participating retailers by touching their NFC phone to in-store displays.
  • Rovio has “a big Facebook game in the works and we’re hoping to integrate NFC there,” says Wilson. The company already has more than 2m Facebook fans.
  • We also “hope to integrate NFC in our full version in the not too distant future,” Wilson added.

An SMS-based operator billing system called ‘Bad Piggy Bank’ is also in the works, Wilson told delegates. This is designed to act as a kind of gaming wallet that players could use to store their scores and then access them from multiple devices. Bad Piggy Bank will also be used for in-app purchases on Android devices. “We’re going to open it up so all developers can use Bad Piggy Bank,” says Wilson, although there are no plans as yet to use the system for other types of purchases.

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