Hey Stella, You’re in a New Angry Birds Game

Another puzzler? An action-adventure? Something inventive for a change?

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Who’s Stella? Is she in that teaser shot up top? The serious-looking pink blob on a branch eyeballing a stern Disney-like wicked queen bird along the horizon? Angry Birds developer Rovio’s playing coy about its announcement of new game Angry Birds Stella, which would be the ninth installment in this franchise — Bad Piggies notwithstanding — since the original game launched a little over four years ago.

“Stella may be pink,” writes Rovio, “but she’s definitely one of the Angry Birds, a fierce and a feisty character with a great group of friends. Of course no story is complete without some interesting (fr)enemies!” Pink, you say? Good to see Rovio knows a stereotype when it pitches one.

According to Rovio, the new game, with its tagline “Best friends forever, most of the time,” is designed to “open a door to a part of the Angry Birds universe you’ve never seen before.”

There will be plenty of fun and adventure, but the bunch of passionate pals will also have to deal with some serious issues in order to protect their friendship and the environment they live in. Luckily, Stella and her friends are good at finding creative solutions!

That’s all we know about the game: not how it plays or whether it’ll still be a puzzler or whether it’ll follow the company’s freemium approach. Rovio says it’ll be out this fall, and not just the game (or series of games — Rovio uses the word “adventures”) but a slew of merchandise tie-ins ranging from animations (cartoons of some sort) to toys to “other fun stuff.”

Conventional thinking pegs this as Rovio’s attempt to turn the heads (and purses) of women, specifically younger ladies. There may be something to that, but it overlooks research that suggests the average mobile gamer is in the mid-forties and as likely to be female as male. Then again, a study in 2011 found that male players of Angry Birds were 35% more likely to convert from the free to the paid version of the game, so maybe it really will turn out to be the shrewd, gender-focused cash grab the announcement resembles.