Angry Birds Halloween Edition: Can the U.S. Close The Time-Waster Gap?

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Will this virtual ornithological-porcine violence be the final nail in the coffin of the American economy?

Our colleague Fareed Zakaria has an intriguing cover story in this week’s issue of TIME about the way our society can restore the American dream. Fareed’s advice is pretty good, mainly focusing on investments and taxes, but there’s one subject area he curiously left out: the burgeoning micromarket of mobile gaming. Because let’s face it, cheap and massively popular time-wasters like Angry Birds are pretty much the only thing that can save us. Unfortunately, America is falling behind our global competitors in the app race, before it has barely begun!

Take Angry Birds, from Finland. (Please!) The physics-based mobile app — in which gamers shoot birds, presumedly ornery ones, at pigs out of a catapult — has sold over 6.5 million copies since its debut in December 2009, making it the most popular smartphone game in the United States. And now it has a sequel, just in time for the holidays: Angry Birds Halloween.

The re-skinned version, which to be fair includes 45 totally new levels as well as the ability to explode pumpkins as well as pigs, will doubtlessly sell hundreds of thousands of copies. And at 99 cents for the iPhone version and $1.99 on the iPad, that could amount to a million dollars pumping into Finnish coffers at a crucial time for the American economy. And the situation will be exacerbated when Finland releases Angry Bird plush toys — coming this holiday season! Readers must stay vigilant: Tell your kids, sorry, but they can’t get any birdie toys this year. You’re going to buy American this Christmas.