Rovio, maker of the hit video game Angry Birds, is set to open a number of stores in China over the coming year to take full advantage of the game’s popularity there – as well as the popularity of pirated Angry Birds goods.
Rovio CEO Peter Vesterbacka, also known as The Mighty Eagle, made the announcement at TechCrunch’s Disrupt Beijing conference, which is taking place in the Chinese capital on Monday and Tuesday this week.
The bird-based video game has really taken off in China, one of the results being that pirated Angry Birds merchandise is widely available in the country. The Rovio CEO claimed that Angry Birds was now the most copied brand in China. That’s not bad going for a game involving cartoon birds, catapults and egg-stealing green pigs.
Vesterbacka even took to the TechCrunch stage holding a bunch of unlicensed Angry Birds balloons. “These balloons are created by our friends here in China,” he told the audience. “We get a lot of inspiration from local producers, so I’m going to take these back and tell our guys, ‘please copy these products and make them real.’” His idea of pirating the pirates got a big laugh from the assembled crowd.
Vesterbacka said his company was hoping for store sales amounting to around $100 million in the first year of operation. In preparation for its move into China’s retail market, the Finland-based gaming company opened an office in Shanghai last month. “We’re hiring a lot of people here. We want to be more Chinese than Chinese companies,” Vesterbacka said.
The Angry Birds game is a massive hit in the country, with around 50 million downloads to date. A theme park in Hunan province even made its own real-life version of the game; unlicensed, of course.