Bigger than Star Wars: What’s next for Angry Birds developer Rovio
“For Angry Birds Star Wars we have the first year planned out in pretty intricate detail,” explains Jarvilehto. “We already know which updates we’re going to be doing and when those are going to go live. It should be a pretty good value proposition for 99 cents – a dedicated live team that’s going to support the game for the next year or two.”
Rovio’s chart-topping games and ubiquitous merchandising is down to a healthy collaborative spirit. It worked with famous brands to release games like Angry Birds Rio and Angry Birds Star Wars. It works with merchandising companies to produce toys, plushes, hats, hoodies and all manner of other apparel. You can now buy Angry Birds Star Wars Jenga – three different brands in one product.
”We think that there’s alot of things that we can do working with other companies,” says Jarvilehto. “We think we should move even faster, though. That means complimenting our own internal development with collaboration in multiple ways.”
For its videogames, it has worked with Oxford-based indie Exient to port its Angry Birds Trilogy to consoles. Rovio liked Snappy Touch and Mystery Coconut’s game Casey’s Contraptions so much that it bought the rights for the game. It was tweaked and re-released as Amazing Alex this summer.
Rovio’s rampant entrepreneurial spirit is to be admired, but there’s still a little snobbery in some circles over its skills as a games developer. We ask whether the perception that Angry Birds isn’t a ‘proper game’ annoys Rovio.
“There’s definitely a lot of science, a lot of skill and a lot of creativity involved with our level design,” he contends. “I don’t think we do get as much credit on that as we should – at least not compared to the effort we put in. Many of the levels you can pass straight away, but if you want to get three stars they are much more like puzzles. We are trying to push the players to engage in lateral thinking more. If you want to find all of the secrets you might need to shoot the birds backwards or think of a completely different solution. We think that’s important, and it’s a huge amount of fun to do as well.”
There’s no question Rovio is having a huge amount of fun seeing how far it can take its current success, too. Like Star Wars, Angry Birds’ popularity has spawned an array of toys, merchandise and other media. Finland’s most famous games studio is fast transcending mere videogames to become an entertainment giant in its own right.
You can read the full story of how Angry Birds Star Wars was born in the relaunch issue of iGamer, which is free to download for a limited time from Apple Newsstand.