“It’s all about the brand,” said Peter Vesterbacka, the “mighty eagle” of Rovio Mobile, the Finland-based company that has led the craze of Angry Birds. “We’re not a games company; we’re building a next-generation entertainment franchise.”
Trying to piggyback on the success of the game, the company is expanding to other products, such as toys, paper books, digital books, a feature-length animated movie (with David Masel, former Marvel chairman leading the development), and—coming in August to Barnes and Nobles—an Angry Birds cookbook which is all about how to prepare eggs. Clearly, the company is not confined by platform. They are trying to get on as many platforms as possible, some of which include the Nook, Kindle, Roku (for TV), in addition to Web, Android, iTouch, and game consoles such as Play Station and Xbox.
The Future of Angry Birds
“We want to be an entertainment company with a billion fans. Everything we do now is getting more fans and building better products to do that. We’re a very ambitious team. We want to make Angry Birds a permanent part of pop culture,” he said.
Rovio is also expanding in China (second largest market after U.S. for Angry Birds), with offices in Shanghai, for both production of Angry Birds products and to localize products for the (huge) Chinese market. “We want to be more Chinese than Chinese companies.” Vesterbacka said. The company has a very interesting way to deal with pirated products in China. Angry Birds is the third most copied/pirated brand in China (Hello Kitty is number one), but instead of sending a lot of lawyers to deal with the issue legally, they are going to use NFC to make the toys more interactive; whereas the physical toy can unlock more features in the digital games (think Webkins).
Geo-location is also a component that will be integrated into the Angry Birds franchise. For example, the company is making “magic” places at Barnes and Nobles, where Angry Birds is available for free and if you have the game, new features can be unlocked. So it’s like Four Square, but with added benefits.
Vesterbacka was hesitant about giving advice to smaller developers, such as when they should expand on their brand. “Don’t worry about doing the wrong thing or going against conventional wisdom,” he said. He said that the company ignored a lot of advice (including some from Hollywood) because they were “crappy.” “What is right for us may not be right for you.”