Bigger than Star Wars: What’s next for Angry Birds developer Rovio

The world’s biggest videogame series met one of the planet’s most recognised universes in Angry Birds Star Wars. Not only did it top global App Store charts, but related merchandise has swamped toy stores across the world, too – and just in time for Christmas.

Petri Jarvilehto spoke to us before Rovio confirmed that it would be releasing an Angry Birds movie in 2016, but he couldn’t resist dropping a few hints as to Rovio’s next move. The company’s executive vice president for games talked about entertaining a much larger audience, and that its next project would be “much, much bigger” than Angry Birds Star Wars. When questioned further, he added: “We don’t comment on rumours, especially the ones we’ve started.”

Rovio has since confirmed that it has signed up Despicable Me producer John Cohen to produce the Angry Birds film, with former Marvel Studios chairman David Maisel on board as executive producer. It is also producing and financing the film itself, re-investing the colossal revenues it has gathered from its flagship bird-flinging series. Rovio isn’t about to abandon videogames, though.

“We have a huge amount of incredibly great Angry Birds things lined up for the future,” says Jarvilehto. “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,” he continues. “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.”

Jarvilehto’s background is in console development, having spent years at Remedy Entertainment working on big-budget titles like Alan Wake and Max Payne. “Coming from a long background in console games to working on mobile and tablets, I’m actually finding this much more enjoyable,” he says. “The rapid speed at which we operate is incredible fun. The long development lifecycles that you see on consoles feel so much like the old world – I’m enjoying the new world a lot. Mobile and tablets is where I think more of the exciting things are happening.”

Part of that excitement is in how, here in the new world, mobiles and tablets are all connected to each other. “In the future there’s going to be even more social experiences around gameplay than what we’re seeing today,” says Jarvilehto. “I believe that it’s going to be an exciting future.”

We can already see a little of Rovio’s future in its latest game. Releases are thought of internally as services, says Jarvilehto, who compares the release of Angry Birds Star Wars to shipping the first 20 per cent of a console game. Once the game goes live, Rovio’s ‘live team’ takes over and continues to release the next 80 per cent, update by update.

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