Mar 26 2023 - Mar 28 2023

Angry Birds 2 Microsoft Windows Version In Brief Update: 2023-03-26

Hello and good day all!

As it has been a year now since the last update to the Microsoft Windows version of Angry Birds 2 I thought I would take the time to speak about the game a bit. When it first came out in 2019 it was pretty exciting, a legitimate way to play Angry Birds 2 on desktop without dealing with emulators or other issues. As well I personally saw it not being cross platform as a bonus, a chance to start fresh with a new leaderboard and a new flock. We had gotten a lot of mobile players together quickly into a clan and started knocking out clan events. It was great as I always missed on the mobile version not being there at the start and having a chance at the top 100. I always felt if I had started a year sooner I could have my flock power built up more and once in the top players you get more rewards making it easier to stay in the top if you keep up with daily play and have good strategies in and out of gameplay.

Issues quickly arose though with the servers, often giving out daily and we could even know what time of day, say 7PM to 11PM was a no play zone, and it would be a bit hiccupy around those times as well, so really it became an 8 hour window to play, depending on when you played and worked making it difficult to get the dailies in that you need, clan points, bootcamp play. Often missing a day of bootcamp meant getting kicked out of the top 100 which would greatly reduce the seasonal rewards you could expect, making it harder to be in the top 100 the next season. As these server and lag issues dragged on for months we lost many players who had varying degrees of patience and available time to play. Depending on their timezone some could only play during the lag hours and quickly became frustrated. The ONWH (Oh No What Happened!) screen became way too familiar with many players, and we often hoped they would just give us a "retry" option when connecting to save points.

Due to the constant issues they did make it a bit easier on players. For some regions or players videos to continue on an extra bird weren't available for example, making clan events a bit more difficult. There was also crashing, lagging, freezing of the game, seemed to be caused by the ads in the game for those who did get them. Eventually they began to regularly include a spell option on all clan events, which was a nice change from the mobile version, and given the issues on Windows made it so you could make points without losing a ton of gems. Players figured out it was the vungle file causing the constant crashing and freezing, and learned to delete that every few weeks or sooner depending on ad views. As well some features such as the Jetpack Run never went away on Windows, which is a fun monthly mini-game with great rewards. Do hope to eventually see the other mini-games that have disappeared on mobile make their way to Windows.

Another missed chance to do better is all the glitches, exploits, bugs that were in the game. Being behind the mobile game meant they had hindsight, they knew what was coming and could plan ahead. If there was a bug with a version they could have realized it was coming and included the bug fix with the update, but time after time they would introduce bugs into the game when they would update that were already resolved in the mobile game, including several exploits that were well known to mobile players and fixed, but opened up in the Windows world without a care. As if it was more checking of a list, update to a certain version, even if there were versions with fixes a little later.

It does seem this version was meant to be more stand alone, build it and they will come, but we don't need the hot dog vendor kind of thing. All the events were a lot more rigidly scheduled, to the point you could easily predict what is coming up ahead, by like knowing for example the Jetpack run always comes on the 7th of the month, and has a hatchling fever on the last day. This also caused issues for things such as the bootcamp hats, which need to be manually changed every season, some seasons getting missed, or wrong hats put on the discount rotation. They had a schedule, a set to follow, so their would be minimal thought, just follow the orders kind of thing.

There was a big Facebook issue for a while where if you got logged out of Facebook you were unable to log back in. This went on for a few months and as players lost progress, accidentally reinstalled, or had to switch laptops they found themselves locked out of their accounts. Support could sometimes help locate and sync up the account, though it could take a few days/weeks depending on the information the player had, though they were usually good for getting you back logged into your account in the end. Eventually Facebook access was restored and people could easily login to their accounts again. This time as well though we had lost many players who we only had contact with in game, who we couldn't help navigate support, who found themselves with a new account they didn't want to start over with.

When the Facebook log in issue was semi-fixed (they had removed Facebook support in game for bit all together so no more crashes until they fixed the login issues) a new severe bug cropped up, where if you tried to load a Facebook profile picture the game would crash. This would affect arena/bootcamp/clan areas. Eventually we figured out the source and had everyone in our clan switch to in game profile photos until an update came out that resolved the issue. If just 1 person in your weekly league had a Facebook profile the arena would not load. This went on for a few months easy. It was so severe it was once of the few times they issued a piggy mail, asking everyone to change their profile pictures. Lots of players quit, leaving their profile pictures as a trap basically in arena, where you didn't know if you would be able to play this week or not. If any of your opponents in the opposing team had a Facebook profile picture you wouldn't be able to play the battle. The severity of the issue combined with the length of time for a fix had many people doubt the commitment and resources available for the desktop version of the game.

In the first year or 2 there were many updates and the game stayed only about 8 versions behind mobile at the most, often doing a bulk update of 8 at once. This worked out nicely actually for the nostalgia factor and some updates in the mobile game were unfavourable, especially the destruction meter change. It was great to play and have spells fully available and was a good selling point to get people to try it after the mobile changes. Last year though there was an update that seemed it was meant to bring the new arena to the Microsoft game, and which also changed the destruction meter. Sadly the new arena did not work, but it came with all the negatives of that update (which had been addressed in mobile but never Windows). Such as the smaller amount of apples available as none were available in the arena now. In mobile they increased apples available in other areas and decreased how much was needed to feed each level. That was an update or 2 after the one that came to Windows it seemed, and then the updates stopped. The destruction meter changed, but clan events had remained at 6 rooms. Luckily we had spells, and eventually the room count did seem to lower, usually. As it was a rather glitchy update it was never forced, but as it affected the destruction meter and how you could score the online aspects of the older version were blocked out. So on the old version you can still play the old arena, but no online mode, and the new version you have the online features with no arena. It is possible to go back and forth, but it is worth nothing some people may simply not realize there is an update and are stuck on the non-online version just playing arena for the most part.

These conditions of 2 semi-working versions have gone on for a year now, with a small update coming out now, that does not include any fixes but seems to meet Rovio's legal obligations in terms of an age gate for minors. It does give me a bit of hope they didn't just shutter the game and did update it to keep it live, I do wish there could have been at least some minor bug fixes included if they can't still get the arena sorted. It would be nice to have everyone playing the same version again.

I do feel this game was a missed opportunity as well, to take AB2 on a different path, perhaps a player led path, with more transparency and communication from developers. Perhaps voting on which update paths to take, which updates are wanted and maybe even new unique ideas that while they may be hesitant to try on the larger mobile player base, could be a fun trial for the Windows players. With constant communication with game developers we could know what is possible and isn't, but get updates that are more focused for the community instead of just blindly following the same update path the mobile game took. I believe the contract was just to port the game though from mobile to desktop, so there were limited on the liberties they could take with any changes, and it is a challenge enough to port a game into different platforms and offer live support and operations afterwards. It would have been nice though after the initial port to then fork from the main road and do some things a bit different, to take that code and work on it as an independent project with the community and different developers. Really a huge missed chance to take risks on a smaller playerbase that could later play off in the mobile game or just make players happier.

In the backdrop of all this as well is the company that did the Windows port, iLogos. They were located in Ukraine and the Russian invasion of their country began right before the last update. According to their website they are responsible for the port and live ops/updates. It is unknown if they re-port the game every update or take updates and port those, if they are supposed to provide a certain amount of updates per year or wait to be given a version say every 8 versions to update to. The initial port was considered a big success for them. Seemingly they had the broken done and was pretty much on release before the chaos started. While they do have other game studios around the world it was the Ukraine team who dealt with AB2. Obviously they had other priorities but kept working remotely or as possible. This would disrupt their work flow and they were likely working on other things such as the game that they released to help raise funds for Ukraine. AB2 took a back burner and I think in general the community was understanding at first, there were some who hoped for a rollback, but it seemed the only way was to move forward. However forward moving seems to have stalled as well with promises it is being worked on, but questions of when seem elusive. I do feel it will happen eventually but I guess it stays on the backburner during the ongoing issues as we approach a year. Some delays are understandable for sure but after a year and knowing they are still developing other games it feels very much like "Well if I'm done all my work today I might write a few lines of code for AB2, if there is time" kind of schedule. The age verification does make me hopeful the team is still working on it as presumably they are the ones who would have made the update and pushed it out. As well it means that Rovio doesn't want to lose the game or make it unavailable in a number of regions, and they are keeping it running at the very least.

For those who have Windows 11 there is now the option of playing the mobile version on desktop through the Amazon App Store. As more people upgrade their desktops over time this option becomes stronger and stronger. Testing it out it seems to work rather smoothly and is in sync with the mobile version allowing cross platform play on the desktop for whose who prefer the mouse or big screen. I do wonder if this will take the spotlight more as a working desktop version, it can make a lot of players happy with a lot of features, is constantly updated, and a larger community. Focusing on this means they won't be supporting 2 separate versions of the game into the future, or leaving the Windows version to stagnate for those who keep playing. I'm not sure how many will make the switch, some who play mobile may just give up their Microsoft version of the game, while those who were Windows exclusive may be more hesitant as they need to start a new account to get into this version. While they may be easily top 100 or top 1000 in the Microsoft version it is a lot higher to climb bootcamp with so many more players. With more players means more clans though, and it is a lot easier to find clans that talk to each other, finish events, offer tips and help people out.

My personal choice is to continue to play the Microsoft Windows version as long as I can and remain optimistic about a future update. I do believe them when they say it is being worked on, I just wonder about the priority. I will ignore the Amazon App Store on the desktop for now but use it sometimes for my Jr. account which I play sporadically. If Windows does die I won't play AB2 on desktop anymore, but just take the opportunity to look into other games. I like the nuances of the Windows version, the different people, being in there from the ground floor and in the top 100. Having different sets of challenges. I want to see it to the end, good or bad, and help those who I can.

Thank you all who read this, and let's go into the future together :).

TLDR; AB2 on Amazon App Store, hopeful about Windows update eventually, update means they are still acknowledging the game, boring history lesson.

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