March 21 - Little more than two years after launching its first Angry Birds game for the iPhone, Finnish mobile games maker Rovio is partnering with the world's biggest retailer Wal-Mart to sell merchandise and is planning themed activity parks in Britain. Matt Cowan reports.
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The maker of the hit game Angry Birds is using the momentum its mustered in mobile to catapult into new real world opportunities.
The Finnish startup Rovio behind the world's most downloaded game is planning to launch themed activity parks in Britain and has struck a deal with the world's biggest retailer
Walmart to sell limited edition merchandise in its stores.
In a recent interview with Reuters, Rovio's marketing chief Peter Vesterbacka explained how his company sees itself as an entertainment brand, rather than simply a games company.
SOUNDBITE: Peter Vesterbacka, Rovio's marketing chief speaking to Reuters at Mobile World Congress in February saying (English):
"We're selling a lot of virtual goods, but we're also selling a lot of physical goods. So we're definitely in both businesses. We've sold 25 million toys so it's been a very good business. We just picked up two toy awards at this industry show in New York. So kinda like the Toy Industry Oscars. So we won Property of the Year and also Game of the Year together with Mattel for our board game. For us, the physical goods is a great business."
There are also plans for new Angry Birds branded stores in China. It has the fastest growing game on Facebook and recent media reports have suggested the company behind those perturbed birds could be worth as much as 9 billion dollars.
Screen Digest senior games analyst Steve Bailey says its an impressive trajectory for a company that seemed to come out of nowhere.
SOUNDBITE: Steve Bailey, Screen Digest Senior Analyst saying (English)
"Well there's a great synergy to be had in merchandising a product that has great engagement with the audience. So if you're a big fan there are new ways to spend and engage and conversely that encourages you to be retained and to have further engagement with the product."
The Angry Birds themed activity parks will be built in partnership with the Finnish playground equipment maker Lappset and will be more modest in scale than the massive theme parks Disney is known for...
Rovio - which raised 42 million dollars from venture capital firms last year still sees itself as a small company from a small country, and says it's in no hurry to go public.
Matt Cowan Reuters
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