Called “Magic Places,” the feature will unlock functionality or new game levels when two NFC-enabled phones are tapped together, or a gameplayer visits a certain location, say company executives.
According to GigaOm’s Ryan Kim, Rovio has plans to use the “Magic Places” functionality across all its games. However, with the game now passing 200 million downloads, its a good place to start. The goal is to make the game a more social experience, and using technologies like NFC and GPS (also apparently planned) will accomplish that.
The idea is pretty neat considering typical game play is a solitary thing. Now the Angry Birds addict has a reason to get out of the house — visiting a local retailer gives them the opportunity to get new content, or compete with fellow players through leaderboards that would be posted at the various locations.
Partners will be announced in the coming weeks, with the functionality available in the game itself later this year. It’s not clear if Rovio plans to charge for this content.
If the content’s free, it’s possible that people are going to come in to participating locations solely to get frerbies. Even so, its still traffic that the retailer wouldn’t have seen otherwise and there’s always the chance that gamers will end up buying something.
I am excited to see NFC move outside of the mobile payment rut that its been stuck in. The technology has much more promise than that and is usable for more than just what we’ve seen it for so far. Rovio’s Magic Places is the start of this, and I’m sure not the last as more and more phones ship with the technology built in.