Last Updated: June 2nd, 2012

Maybe you weren't waiting up til 4am EST, eagerly anticipating the release of Angry Birds Space. That is what you have us for, after all. If you were, though, you might remember that only one version of the app made it to the Play Store that night: the free version. Later, though, Rovio released "Angry Birds Space Premium," which is the ad-free version of the app. Now, Rovio has released Angry Birds Space HD. Sure. Why not?

abs1 abs2 abs3

This breaks Rovio's tradition of only having one version of its app on the Play Store. As you can see below, all the other versions of Angry Birds have one app on the Play Store. It's just the free version, but still only one. Now, though, there are an equal number of Angry Birds Space apps as there are all other Angry Birds versions combined.

2012-03-23 12h57_18

Now, in Rovio's defense, this does seem to make a certain amount of sense. Rovio has never released a paid version of its app on Android, despite making most of its initial cash on the paid game in the iOS app store. Rovio, understandably, wants to experiment with paid apps on the Play Store. However, the HD version of the app makes no sense at all.

For starters, the free version of the app looks just fine on my Xoom. While Android tablets with even HD-er screens are on their way (hello, Infinity), 1280x800 is still pretty much the standard for Android tablets that are on the market right now. In fact, Rovio initially released Angry Birds Space HD on the Amazon Appstore, pitching it as a Kindle Fire version, despite the Fire only having a resolution of 1024x600.

I downloaded Angry Birds Space HD to my Xoom and, with the exception of fixing the improperly sized intro graphic, the game looks nearly identical. The free version looks just as good on my display. Which leaves me to wonder what I just spent $3 on. Maybe the differences would be more noticeable on the Transformer Pad Infinity, or the new iPad, but here on an Android tablet that actually exists, that $3 seems to buy you absolutely nothing.

I don't have a problem with paid versions of games. In fact, I'd prefer it to the alternatives. However, Android, as a platform, is built so that you don't need to have multiple versions to support different device types. From the ground up, Android has been designed so that things like screen resolution or aspect ratio won't break an app. So, when a game developer deliberately breaks off an "HD" version, it's annoying. When that "HD" version doesn't actually offer any improvements over the original, though, it feels like theft.

Oh, and not to add injury to insult or anything, but if you're considering buying this app now anyway, take a look at some of the reviews first. It seems that some users are experiencing crashes and difficulty loading the HD app. If you're feeling gutsy, though, here's a widget just for you.

Eric Ravenscraft
Eric is a snarky technophile with a taste for the unusual. When he's not obsessing about Android, you can usually find him obsessing about movies, psychology, or the perfect energy drink. Eric weaves his own special blend of snark, satire, and comedy into all his articles.

  • PB

    My love for angry birds has come and gone. These games just arent that fun anymore. Add a $3 price tag to get the "full experience" on my tablet and I just became a bigger fan of Cut the Rope and Wheres my water...and slightly Sprinkle

    • http://twitter.com/#!/dextersgenius deX

      So has mine, but I decided to give the space version a try, mainly because I was bored. And boy was I surprised. This version is a much needed reboot to the same old formula Rovio was churning out. The new physics involved actually makes you think in some levels. If you've ever played Osmos HD, you'll love Angry Birds Space. The physics is fun and the new birds and powers are, pardon the pun, "cool". :)

  • Mc

    Amazon app store has it for. 99, and bonus levels for Samsung devices

    • http://www.AndroidPolice.com Artem Russakovskii
      • http://www.newarkdesigns.com Jeff Feely

        Does the Kindle edition install on anything other than a Kindle? It won't let me install it on my Prime.

        Agree with the OP, the regular version looks just fine on the Prime, I see no reason to buy an HD version.

  • http://www.AndroidPolice.com Artem Russakovskii

    Seriously. You can bet the game was developed with full textures and then dumbed down for the $0.99 version. Charging 200% more for essentially the same thing is a money grab.

    • http://ericcamil.com Eric

      ^ This, is what kills me. It would be one thing if they had to re-create a lot of the work to make it for a tablet, but if all they are doing is dumbing down what looks to be probably vector art in the first place then you are correct it's a total $$$ grab. Nothing wrong with making the $$$, but for an extra 2 bucks I'd like to think I was getting more than an enhanced intro.

  • jr

    why no work on galaxy nexus aint that hd?

    • http://www.AndroidPolice.com Artem Russakovskii

      It looks like it's specifically designed for or at least targeted at tablets.

      • sriracha

        It looks like it's specifically designed for or at least targeted at fanboy consumers.

  • jeff donuts

    fuck they need to kill this game its the same shit over and over. damn there milking this series

    • http://www.focuszonedevelopment.com Aaron

      But yet people still obsess over it. It's still wildly popular. It's the same thing over and over, but so is American Idol, and it hasn't gone anywhere.

    • http://codytoombs.wordpress.com Cody Toombs

      The same thing could be said about every sequel in history. Damn that ID Software, they just kept milking those First Person Shooters.

      The vitriol over Angry Birds doesn't make sense. I can't tell if it's because it was a big success on iOS and people have just extended their fanboi hatred, or because Rovio got to spend a whole 15 minutes selling a bunch of plushy dolls and other merchandise, or maybe people just hated it when Conan played a super-sized real life version...but it really doesn't make sense. Seriously people, if ya don't like the game, ignore it.

    • http://twitter.com/#!/dextersgenius deX

      I would agree with you if you were talking about Rio or Seasons, but Space is actually a much-needed reboot to the series. There's new physics involved and new birds and powers. Did you even bother playing the game before making a comment?

    • Simsimi

      No one is shoving the game down your throat so why the hate?
      Did by any magical chance that your phone/tablet has Angry Brids pre-installed as uninstallable bloatware as to why you have unxeplainable anger towards it?

  • rick

    free version works fine on my nexus

  • Ryan S

    Hmm, I have been playing the free version and will probably get the paid version to ditch the adds but I agree I don't get the HD version. Its a little time wasting 2d game, I dont feel that a bump in reso is going to change the experience. Especially if its just the same 2d layout and levels.

  • alex

    cant download HD version with my galaxy R! why??? free version with add works fine!

    • http://www.AndroidPolice.com Artem Russakovskii

      It's aimed at tablets.

  • Jonathan

    your right im good with the .99 version looks great on the xoom.

  • The Goat

    The HD version shows as incompatible with the Galaxy Tab 10.1, and the Free and Premium versions look perfect to me (with the exception of the loading screen, of course), so yeah I don't know what they're thinking here. FFS, just release one ad-free and one paid version. This is dumb.

    • http://www.AndroidPolice.com Artem Russakovskii

      Same here, my Galaxy Tab 10.1 isn't compatible, but TF101 and TF201 are.

  • Chaz

    They must think its the app store from apple. My friend has the new ipad and has the ipad 2. He seen games that he had to pay for again. They were already bought on his account just because they had update for the new retina display.

  • nXt

    The "Play Store" supports multiple apks per app too. If they did it properly depending on what device you have, the Play Store will install the appropriate version for the device. They're just lazy/greedy (wanting to charge more for the 'HD' version) to do it.
    Google does it for its own apps and I've seen other devs do this also.

    • http://www.AndroidPolice.com Artem Russakovskii

      Exactly right.

  • MrYuzhai

    galaxy nexus is fully capable of running this at 720p.. why no love??

  • Derp

    "Rovio has never released a paid version of its app on Android"

    Um, no. I have the paid versions of all 4 AB games through the Amazon Appstore. The Market / Play Store is not synonymous with Android.

  • Simon Belmont

    The way Android scales graphics has never really necessitated "HD" versions of the app, just like Eric said. I played the "regular" version of this app on my HP TouchPad and it looked perfect despite the tablet resolution of the screen.

    The intro graphic could easily be fixed and they could just leave this as the catch-all handset/tablet app that it should be. An HD version is mostly pointless.

  • Eric T. Jones

    The HD version says it's only compatible with my HP touchpad with Cyanogen 9 Alpha 2. It's not compatible with my ICS Acer Iconia Tab or my HTC EVO 4G. So I'm definitely not going to buy it if it's not even compatible with my main devices.

  • http://twitter.com/#!/dextersgenius deX

    I don't understand what's with all the bashing that's been going on above? It's just a game people. No one's forcing you to buy it.

    - Re. the HD version: I know some people who like to play games on their tablet connected to their big screen TVs, so I could imagine the HD version being useful there. Personally I would never buy it but I have a few of Birds-crazy friends who will go nuts when they find out there's an HD version available.
    It's not like Rovio's forcing it on you, they have a premium as well as a free version. The more choices, the better. Isn't that the key selling point of Android - choice?

    - Re. the dumbing-down of textures, it makes sense if you want to target all the devices out there - especially the lower end ones - and like it or not, there are a lot of them out there; and no, a 500MHz CPU is sufficient for their needs. Not everyone needs a 1GHz smartphone; not everyone can afford a high-end phone; not every country has access to subsidized or second hand high-end devices. Finally, not everyone has a credit card or a PayPal account to order a device from eBay, and in some countries the custom duties on imported products - even gifts - are exorbitant. My point being, there are many low end devices out there, there will always be a huge market for them - a market huge enougn that no big developer will want to ignore. So using low-res textures isn't such a bad idea - everyone gets a fair chance of playing the game.

    - Re. the game itself: Those who are complaining about how it's the same old stuff over and over - give the game a fair try before you actually speak. I showed Space to a Birds-hater mate of mine - not unlike some of you above - and he was impressed. New physics, new graphics - it's a different experience. Of course, you could be picky and say that it's still the same old sh*t, but then, you could say that for *any* modern game. What about Battlefield 3, for example? I don't get the crazy, and I mean CRAZY hype behind that game. It's just an FPS people, and a that too a war FPS. It's Same old crap over and over, since the days of counter-strike. It's the same deal with every other RPG. And what about the madness over all those MOBA games like LoL and HoN? I mean, personally, I find those games are boring as heck - super repetitive, no long term missions goals, no sense of achievement. /rant

    Anyways people, it's just $3. I mean, are you seriously complaining about an *optional* *game* that you don't even have to buy? FOR THREE BUCKS! Really?

    That $3 means many days (if not months) of entertainment - don't forget Rovio also updates their games regularly, adding new content. Assuming you do play the game for that long, which you will, if you're a fan. I mean, if you aren't a fan then you wouldn't even spend those $3 in the first place, right?

    Now How much does a movie ticket cost? $10-$20? and that too for just 90 minutes? I don't see you complaining to Hollywood on what a ripoff the cinemas are.


    Everyone should take a chill-pill and read this:


    • thedude

      +1 completely agree with you. well said.

  • rd

    I went to the amazon store, looked for the HD version on my tf101 and it didn't show up. I assumed the HD was only for the Fire. So I bought the regular version. Then I saw the HD version on Play...

    I guess so far, the HD version doesn't sound like it gets you anything extra.

  • Doods de los Reyes

    Waiting for the free HD version for my Galaxy Note

    • Simsimi

      it will probably come out at the Samsung Apps store

  • Himmat

    So basically, the gist of the story is that the HD version is the 'same' as the free version in every sense, bar the intro graphic that looks phone-sized on a tablet?

    Also, funny thing is that the size of the HD game is actually around 25% smaller than the size of the free and supposedly not-HD game. How come?

    Just want to know too - does the HD version remove ads?

    • http://codytoombs.wordpress.com Cody Toombs

      I'm not sure of this, but I strongly suspect that the HD version ONLY includes one set of graphics intended for xhdpi while the other version probably includes graphics for ldpi, mdpi and hdpi...

      • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/eric-ravenscraft/ Eric Ravenscraft

        Given that it won't install on phones, this is likely the case. It would make some sense. That being said, it's entirely unclear why Rovio went this way. If the high-res textures are included in the version for lower-res devices, wouldn't that just be unnecessarily bloating up the version that needs more space? It's confusing.

        • http://codytoombs.wordpress.com Cody Toombs

          I'm suspecting that the xhdpi isn't included in the regular version and most tablets look just fine with hdpi. If they really cared about space, they would have created 4 versions and used the market's multiple apk distribution feature and it wouldn't have cost money for a separate "HD" version...but then they wouldn't have an excuse for charging more.

          I'm not sure if you're familiar with development or you do any app hacking, but (in my experience) a lot of apps will include ldpi/mdpi/hdpi graphics in one apk and then if there are xhdpi graphics they will be distributed separately because the images are so large...Rovio splitting them across two versions isn't unusual, but having two different market entries with each charging different amounts is a bit abnormal (again, that's in my experience).

    • http://twitter.com/#!/dextersgenius deX

      The above replies are correct. The normal version targets multiple resolutions whereas the the HD version targets only two resolutions. Looking inside the APKs, in the /assets/data/images folder:

      Angry Birds Space:

      21M 854x480/
      16M 480x320_android/
      16M 320x240/
      3.9M 1024x600/

      67M --- Total Size ---

      Angry Birds Space HD:

      20M 1280x800/
      3.9M 1024x600/

      34M --- Total Size ---

  • zee

    I installed the $.99 version from the Market on my Google'd Kindle Fire the morning it was released.

    Now the .99 version is "incompatible" with my Fire.

    For the record the .99 version looks HD to me.

    Looks like a money grab to me. Doesn't Rovio know that Android users don't like to pay extra for identical apps like ipad users?

    • donnalb

      I'm almost ashamed at this being an android owner. How insulting I don't buy identical apps for IOS.I own android as well as an IOS and Windows devices. 

  • Ken

    Not compatible with Galaxy Tab 10.1? Wtf? Probably going to release it in the Samsung app store, I guess.

  • thedude

    I don't think the free version looks that great on my tablet. Definitely not HD. I love how many of you guys settle for 'fine' graphics when you can have great for just a bit more-seems to be the Android way.

    If you're too cheap to buy the HD version then don't. If I was a hardcore Angry Birds gamer then I would buy the HD version...but I am not.

    • http://www.AndroidPolice.com Artem Russakovskii

      That's not the problem. The problem is the different price tags for the HD version, which required no more effort from the developer than the regular version.

      Oh, you want HD? You could afford to buy a tablet? You can afford to pay more. Google provides plenty of right ways to target all resolutions and densities, and Rovio chose to not use them for the tablet version, but instead charge 200% more. That's the kind of attitude we have a problem with here.

      • http://androidpolice.com/author/eric-ravenscraft Eric Ravenscraft

        Actually, it's not even that. As deX points out above, the assets in the free version targets all screen sizes and resolutions, whereas the HD version only targets higher resolution displays. It's not that those of us playing the free version on tablets are "settling for 'fine'" graphics, it's that there is no tangible difference. The only advantage the HD version offers is a smaller footprint. Rovio is charging two dollars more and giving absolutely nothing new for the money.

        Frankly, I'm a little offended at thedude's mentality here. Claiming it's "the Android way" to be cheapskates who like crappy products as though there is anything better about the HD version. If it actually included higher resolution images, then maybe, but it doesn't. Perhaps if he bought it (as I did when I wrote this piece), he'd see there's no benefit to the "great" product.

        • ocdtrekkie

          I noticed that the free version is 27 MB, but the HD version is 21 MB. Yeah, there's the advertising code in there, but the discrepancy still seems a little odd if the HD version is somehow special.

  • http://www.autostatic.net irfan

    As much as I have enjoyed the original Angry Bird.. I never bought it.
    Again I downloaded FREE version of Angry Bird Space, but after 2 hours of playing it.. I caved in and bought one.
    The game was a keeper!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1745689461 Hal Motley

    I think the HD concept was invented on iOS so app developers can earn more income on the App Store, it feels redundant here on Android especially with multi-APK which Google Play provides.

  • jack