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Five years on, Rovio celebrates 600 billion slingshotted Angry Birds

How you've grown
Five years on, Rovio celebrates 600 billion slingshotted Angry Birds

While in human terms turning five years old means you're just about ready for school, for a mobile games franchise it's like graduating with a world-renowned PhD after years of hard graft – with everyone asking you how you did it.

Having first launched onto iPhones back in December 2009 on Chilling's Clickgamer label, Angry Birds has done just that and today celebrates its fifth birthday.

Unfortunately, Rovio can't invite the full flock of its players to its "BirdDay" party in Finland - which includes an ice hockey league match between Espoo Blues and Porin Ässät - so by way of celebration it's released an update with all-new Angry Birds episode inspired by fan art.

Titled Play the Next Level, the update packs in 30 new levels created entirely by the game's global fanbase.

It's the nest egg of a social media competition hosted by Rovio earlier this year that became one of the world's largest user generated events with the help of the game's community and its partners.

Winging success

“We couldn't have dreamt of Angry Birds' scale”
Mikael Hed

Still, with over 600 billion birds having been flung in the game's five year history, Angry Birds has become something of a cultural export for Finland.

To celebrate that, Rovio is also gifting every baby born in its home country on 11 December a special edition baby flock outfit – though catapulting human young is not encouraged.

"When we saw the first concept image for Angry Birds back in December 2009, there was a strong feeling that this was an idea that would take flight - but we couldn't have dreamt of its scale", said outgoing CEO Mikael Hed.

"In the past five years Angry Birds has grown into one of the most recognized brands in the world, and Rovio has grown into a global entertainment company producing games, books, animations, theme parks and many other products including a feature film due out in July of 2016."

Lessons learned

As one of the most successful mobile games in the industry's short history, there are clearly a lot of lessons to be learned from the franchise.

The flexibility of the franchise has been demonstrated by games like <em>Angry Birds Epic</em>
The flexibility of the franchise has been demonstrated by games like Angry Birds Epic

Releasing in small markets first, for example, or building hit games into franchises by bolstering subsequent releases with incremental updates on the same winning formula.

Still, it's not been completely smooth sailing for Rovio in recent months. The beginning of this month saw the company lay off 110 of its staff and close its Tampere studio as peak interest in its brand slowly declines.

However, with over 12 games released over the course of five years, no one can deny that Angry Birds is one of the original mobile gaming success stories.