Jan 28, 2022 - Technology

Rovio is plotting an Angry Birds comeback

Angry Birds

Screenshot: Angry Birds Journey: Rovio

The recent release of a new Angry Birds mobile game is part of an effort to bring back a classic series in some very modern ways.

Driving the news: Rovio, the company behind 2009 sensation Angry Birds (yes, it was that long ago), just released its newest slingshot game, Angry Birds Journey, last week.

  • It released a new cartoon, Angry Birds Summer Madness, on Netflix Friday.
  • The company also recently launched an official Angry Birds space in Roblox which has been visited more than 300,000 times, even as Rovio acknowledges it's still figuring out what to do with it.

The big picture: These efforts are an attempt by Rovio to revive a brand that hasn’t had a hit Angry Birds release since AB2 in 2015 and has seen gaming revenue plateau and license revenues fall in recent years.

  • Rovio’s senior vice president of Angry Birds strategy, Ben Mattes, tells Axios that one problem has been missing a section of gamers.
  • “We have this gulf where maybe the teens aren't playing Angry Birds as much as we might like,” he says.
  • He noted that kids get into the series from the cartoons, but that much of the player base, loyal since the early years, is older. Teens, seeking something cool, wind up playing League of Legends or Clash of Clans instead.

Between the lines: Rovio, therefore, wants to experiment, and Mattes drops hints of what sounds like a potential Angry Birds MOBA (the genre of League of Legends) or a riff on other popular games.

  • “The experience of physics and destruction and slingshots, there's no reason why that can't lend itself to a competitive team-based multiplayer synchronous or asynchronous co-op battler,” he says.
  • For Rovio, the goal ultimately is for Angry Birds to succeed in a new way. “It's not what we need to make better free-to-play slingshot games because frankly, we're kind of doing that pretty well,” Mattes says.
  • Instead, Rovio plans to experiment and make new types of Angry Birds games (and maybe some more non AB games, too.)

Classic comeback: The company also plans to revive the original 2009 game, which it removed from mobile storefronts a few years ago due to tech incompatibility issues.

  • Rovio is specifically reconstructing the game as it was in 2012, after several content updates, to satisfy longtime fans’ requests.
  • “As a company, if every time you do a press release or you do a podcast or you do a guest appearance, the comment section is just flooded with hash-tag ‘Bring back 2012,’ you're going to hear it and you're going to say, ‘Oh yeah, well, I guess we can't really ignore this anymore.’”
  • Many older mobile hits from the early days of iOS and Android are unplayable because of those tech issues, a factor that also led to the unexpectedly emotional effort by No Man's Sky developer to rebuild and rerelease its first game, Joe Danger, this week.

The bottom line: Plenty of classic gaming franchises, such as Pac-Man or Space Invaders, stick around as monetizable nostalgia acts.

  • Rovio’s challenge is to see if Angry Birds in 2022 can be more than that.
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