Saturday, March 12, 2011
The Future of Angry Birds
The mobile device application brought to us by Rovio, “Angry Birds,” seems to have received its second…or third…or fourth wind. According to a New York Times article, with its holiday releases—Halloween, Christmas, and Valentine Day—“Angry Birds” has reached almost approximately 100 million downloads.
“Angry Birds” is fascinating in how its reported development cost was only about $150,000 when games like Sony’s “God of War III” came out to a $44 million expense. Typically, companies the size of Rovio are unable to absorb flops in the games they develop. But with overhead costs as low as what they incurred and the amazingly high popularity they achieved, there seems no place else for the company to go but up.
“We’re building an integrated entertainment franchise where merchandising, games, movies, TV, cartoons, and comics all come together, like Disney 2.0,” said Peter Vesterbacka, the head of Rovio’s business development.
And Mr. Vesterbacka’s Disney reference shouldn’t be taken lightly, either. Rovio is essentially following in the footsteps of early Disney in how they’re trying to brand the characters in their little series through their flourishing line of merchandise like cute plush toys much like how Mickey Mouse was first established by Steamboat Willie and was cemented by similar toys, comics, cartoons, and even his own video game series’ .
What’s most interesting about Rovio is its potential for expansion. The company has recently secured $42 million in a financing round led by venture capital firms Accel Partners and Atomico Ventures. But why would the company need to secure fundraising when its profit margins are as high as they are now? Surely the ad revenue itself should have supplied the company with enough money to create another sequel, even if they spent over ten times the amount to develop it as they did the original game.
But Mr. Vesterbacka and the rest of the Rovio team have got their minds on bigger and better things. One of the partners at Accel Partners happens to sit on the boards of Facebook and Wal-Mart Stores, both of which could play vital roles in the future of the company. Rovio plans to bring a new, cooperative version of its game to the Facebook platform this spring. Soon enough, millions of people will be mounting assaults against pig fortresses with their friends from all around the world. And as their virtual reach extends, so too does the companies physical presence as they consider branching out from Helsinki, Finland to cities within China, the United States, and South Korea.
All that’s left to do now is wait for the Broadway musical about the plight…of the Angry Birds!