Ever since Rovio announced that Angry Birds would branch out into the Star Wars universe, we've been covering the studio's every move. And rightfully so. Rovio's growth since the release of their flagship title has been astronomical. So it's certainly a surprise to learn that Angry Birds almost had its wings clipped.
Finland is a strange place. Home to an odd language, hockey fanatics, and a former Prime Minister that looks like Conan O'Brien, it seems like one of the last places you'd expect to find today's most successful mobile gaming company. Like Ikea in Sweden, Rovio is a commercial jewel in Finland's crown, known the world over for their insanely successful game.
Rovio co-founder Niklas Hed, in a talk given last week during the Slush Conference in Helsinki, revealed that the company was on the brink of disaster before the release of the game.
Rovio was forced to let many staffers go and its leaders were contemplating selling the whole operation. When he was asked if Angry Birds was almost cancelled during the tough times that the studio went through, Hed said that the early days were rough.
Easier solutions would have been to sell the company or join a big company... at that point we considered going with another game as it didn't feel right. How the bird was flying and bouncing didn't feel organic at that time.
We all know how that story turned out. After the launch of Angry Birds, Rovio was catapulted to the top of the pile of iOS game developers. And the company has maintained their success by obsessively focusing on their signature brand.
Rovio has done so well over the past few years, that they are regularly mentioned in the same breath as Disney. However, that sort of ubiquity is still well down the road. Despite that, Rovio sees itself already moving down that path.
"In a few years more than half our businesses will be physical," said Peter Vesterbacka, Chief Marketing Officer for Rovio, indicating that he's making a push for a big chunk of Rovio's revenue to come from merchandise.
But for now, it's back to 3-starring all the levels in the Angry Birds Star Wars game.