The characters from our childhood that stick with us forever are typically those that have the most personality. It’s true for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and The Real Ghostbusters, and Rovio wants to make it true for Angry Birds.
Mobile game publisher Rovio revealed its plans for the future of Angry Birds today, and it will focus heavily on the pink fowl Stella and her charismatic friends. The Finnish company announced that it is focusing on developing a world for Stella, Poppy, Willow, Dahlia, and Luca, who all love going on adventures, and gamers will get a chance to partake when Angry Birds Stella launches for mobile devices in September. That release will bring back the physics-based slingshot gameplay, and it will combine that with Stella and her enemy, Gale, a good bird gone rotten. Gamers spent $16 billion on mobile games last year, which doesn’t include revenue from advertising. Rovio wants a bigger piece of that, but it is also looking for opportunities outside of gaming as well.
The studio will follow the game’s release with a cartoon series that explores the colorful-but-clashing personalities of Stella and her friends. Rovio has one of the biggest properties in mobile gaming, but it hasn’t found a way to turn that into the kind of revenue that developers like King and Supercell are now finding. With this focus on characters, the company is hoping to find its own path to megasuccess on smartphones and tablets. This will also lay a foundation for the planned Angry Birds film, which is due in 2016.
Rovio dominated mobile gaming on smartphones as the app economy started to take form on iOS and Android, but it has stagnated while games like Candy Crush Saga and Clash of Clans have generated hundreds of millions of dollars through the use of aggressive free-to-play mechanics.
With Angry Birds Stella, Rovio is going for a style similar to Powerpuff Girls or My Little Pony. The company wants a character that is attractive to girls but that boys can enjoy as well.
“Angry Birds Stella is an inclusive brand that engages everybody, but [it] also celebrates female heroism,” Rovio chief marketing officer Blanca Juti said. “It’s all about friendship and the struggles of six very different personalities. The wonderful spirit of these fearless friends will shake things up across games, animations, books, consumer products, and other fun content under the Angry Birds Stella brand.”
The way Rovio is building up Angry Birds and Stella reveals how the company is thinking about its business. It is focusing on characters first, which is similar to how toy companies come up with new ideas that they also eventually turn into cartoons. While Rovio is a game developer, it also makes a significant portion of its money from merchandise sales. That includes toys and other products branded with the grumpy avian creatures, which explains why the company wants characters that people will love and relate to.