I guess most people have played with the game, Angry Birds. The tremendous popular catapult-puzzle game was developed by a Finland company, called Rovio Entertainment. Since the game was launched iPhone two years ago, it has been one of the most popular app on iPhone. Apart from iPhone, different versions of the game are launched on Android platform, game consoles (such as Playstation) and so on. It also launched many special editions, such as Angry Birds Seasons, Angry Birds Rio, etc. In total, the game and its different editions have been downloaded over 500 million times onto different platforms. Out of which, over 25% were paid download, making it one of the most sold games in the Apple App Store.

Angry Bird, next phase -> Hello Kitty

In a startup conference in Shanghai (ChinaStars), I met one of Rovio’s senior executive, Peter Vesterbacka, who is known as Mighty Eagle in the company and asked him about the future of the company. Surprisingly, he said, “we don’t see ourselves as a game company anymore.” After getting extremely successful with Angry Birds, he thought Rovio’s next phase is to build an entertainment Franchise, just like Disney, but not a game company like EA. In his opinion, the Angry Birds brand can be more than game, but expands to cover other area, such as movies, animations, physical goods, and even theme parks. “Angry Birds can be just like Hello Kitty or Micky Mouse,” said Peter.

Rio: The Movie – an attempt

The Hollywood movie, Rio, is an attempt to expand the Angry Birds brand to other area. Although not very obvious, there are some hints of the Angry Birds characters in the movie. Rovio also launched a special edition, Angry Birds Rio — the Angry Birds characters appear in Rio de Janeiro and interact with characters from the film. Recently, the company also published a cookbook, based on the Angry Birds characters. “We will build everything around the Angry Birds brand,” said Peter.

Angry Birds as a brand – is it possible?

However, not everyone agree Angry Birds as a brand can be a good business. “Many popular games have tried to expand their franchise to other area, but most of them failed. For example, Final Fantasy is popular game, but its movie did not do very well in the box office,” said a venture capitalist.

Peter thought otherwise. “In just two years, Angry Birds have recorded over 500 million downloads. We have 1 billion fan globally. 170 million people play our game each month and 30 million everyday. We are one of the fastest growing brand in the world. We are faster than Google, Twitter or Facebook,” said Peter. And, 10% of Google’s mobile ad comes from the Angry Birds game series, according to Peter.

If we look around, Angry Birds related video clips are everywhere on Youtube. And Angry Birds stuff toys can be easily found in shops, even when the company has licensed no manufacturer to do so. There seems to be a market for Angry Birds products for kids.

Sherman So

Author of Red Wired: China's Internet Revolution, the first book to completely survey the nature of China's internet. (http://redwiredrevolution.com/) She previously was the lead China technology reporter...

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.