Rovio went from a small, but surviving mobile game developer in Finland to one of the most valuable independent studios in the entire video game industry over the past three years and it’s all thanks to a bunch of creepy little birds and pigs. Angry Birds started as a popular iPhone game and ballooned into a global brand spawning not just myriad video game spinoffs, but toy lines and even theme parks. Rovio’s not getting out of the Angry Birds business any time soon, but the company has said that it plans to focus on new intellectual properties going forward.
“We have a huge amount of incredibly great Angry Birds things lined up for the future,” Rovio executive vice president Petri Jarvilehto told Edge Magazine in a recent interview, “But at the same time, we feel that the time is pretty much right to introduce new IPs and keep pushing into other directions as well. We are certainly targeting much bigger games. We’ve managed to achieve some pretty awesome things, and at the same time we feel like we need to push this to the next level.”
Easier said than done. Rovio successfully broadened the Angry Birds empire earlier this year by releasing the spinoff game Bad Piggies, but its one attempt at starting up a wholly new franchise was a failure. Rovio released Amazing Alex in July, and while the game hit the top spot on the iOS App Store’s best-selling apps list within eight hours of release, it trailed off badly afterwards. Amazing Alex was the 99th top-grossing app in the iOS store three weeks after release, and it’s trailed off even further since. It’s currently the 228th top-selling paid app in the US App Store according to App Data.
That isn’t bad for your average mobile developer, but for the company behind Angry Birds, it’s not exactly par. Then again, Amazing Alex wasn’t exactly a Rovio original either. The game is actually a rebranding of the game Casey’s Contraptions, developed by Snappy Touch and Mystery Coconut, which Rovio purchased the rights for in May 2012. Rovio hasn’t developed its own original intellectual property since making its line of Bounce titles for Nokia’s line of phones in 2008.
The Angry Birds business is just getting bigger. Rovio announced just last week that it’s creating an Angry Birds movie for release in 2016. Whether or not the brand can survive without being bolstered by a second success is a question the Finnish studio needs an answer for soon.