When starting a company you tend to direct your hopes and ambitions towards achieving something, to do this it’s good to set goals and have a benchmark of what heights you might aspire to. For us here at Bright Skies Solutions that company is Rovio Entertainment, you may know them better as the creator of Angry Birds.
Developer Rovio is a Finnish firm with a pedigree for producing over 50 games titles since forming in 2003, most of them work for hire for people like EA, GameHouse, Nokia etc. So its safe to say the team knows how to make games, for example Bounce for Nokia has been installed on 250M+ devices. The team that created Angry Birds was 12 people, now Rovio is 50 people, quite a change in 12 months.
The game was built around the characters that Jaakko Iisalo (game designer), came up with. The original idea was very different, but everybody loved the birds, so it was decided to build a game around the birds. Over the next 8 months Angry Birds became the game we know today. Hit the appstore Dec 2009, slow start, number one in Finland, then Sweden, number one in UK in April and then things really took off. Have been number one since in both UK and US. Number one in 77 countries. Number one longer than anybody else. 50M+ downloads across platforms….The result was a bright, bold, addictive puzzler that would become a modern mobile phenomenon.
The game, which took only $100,000 to develop, was a global hit.
Rather than pour money into sequels, Rovio’s strategy has been to keep the game fresh by adding levels to it. Angry Birds had 63 levels when it was released; it now has more than 360. The upgrades are free, but they pay off by keeping the users engaged; the game remains the Apple Store’s all-time best-selling app.
In 2010, Angry Birds soft plush toys and T-shirts reached U.S. shelves. Within a week, about 40% of the inventory had been sold. Besides keeping the birds top of mind, Rovio’s update strategy also generates new characters to sell against. The company adds levels pegged to holidays, too, supporting sales of greeting cards, costumes, and other real-world products. Rovio now has more than 400 partners, from Coca-Cola to Intel to Kraft; collectively, they have developed 20,000 products on sale just about everywhere except Africa. Rovio is looking to create a universe that spans mediums, with each realm supporting the others. They have bought an animation studio [Finnish studio Komboin June] and are now producing animated shorts.
It has now formed a partnership with Lucasfilm (for Angry Birds Star Wars, which merely swaps bird avatars for the familiar characters in reenactments of the films). The basic concept of Angry Birds with one of the biggest brands on the planet is massive and has delivered something both creative and unique.
With a portfolio containing ANGRY BIRDS STAR WARS, ANGRY BIRDS FRIENDS, ANGRY BIRDS SPACE, ANGRY BIRDS SEASONS, ANGRY BIRDS RIO and now BAD PIGGIES, Rovio are still going strong and although applications like CUT THE ROPE and Disneys WHERES MY WATER are rivalling the company – “The Fall of Angry Birds.” is sometime away.
Rovio seemed to have a simple strategy – build up a company slowly and focus on creating great content. Something to aspire too.