The PocketGamer Mobile Mavens is our own carefully curated collection of the finest brains in the mobile games industry.
Every week we ask them a trying question, but with tinsel no doubt wrapped around the screens in their respective officies, they already seem in a somewhat frivolous mood.
As such, this week's question was:
Rovio is apparently working on four new Angry Birds games for 2012, including a social game. But, if you were working at Rovio, what would your next game be?
Neil Holroyd of UK operator Everything, Everywhere offered the first practical solution.
"I'd be looking at introducing extra upgrades. The revenue earned from this game is limited and they need to introduce buying additional birds to complete a level; for example, using different birds on previous levels."
He also suggested Rovio start tying the game into major sporting events, such as next year's Euros and Olympics.
Andreas Vahsen of Machineworks really got into the swing, suggesting a number of possible sequels - some more likely than others;
"Angry Birds: Zombies!,
Angry Birds 3D,
Angry Birds Forever,
Angry Birds: The Prequel,
Talking Angry Birds,
Angry Birds: World Tour,
Hanging with Angry Birds,
Angry Birds: Wormhole,
Angry Birds: Project Falcon,
Angry Birds: Pissed Off,
Angry Birds: More Angry Birds,
Angry Birds: Angry Birds!"
Platform, not games
In contrast, PocketGamer.biz news editor Keith Andrew was far more skeptical about the value of a sequel.
"I'm not sure where new you can take Angry Birds without mucking up what makes it good, he offered.
"I think Rovio would be far better advised to grow beyond development and use the currency its name has to expand its presence with ventures like Bad Piggy Bank [payment platform] and in advertising. In theory, it can make far more money there, too."
Will Luton of Mobile Pie thought the studio just needed to give its developer some vanity projects before refocusing on the core game, while PR pro Brian Baglow agreed there was a need to keep the development team onside.
"You can only milk a mainstream franchise for so long before it either falls out of favour, or gets stretched too far beyond the original product/s and starts to piss people off."
"So use the revenue from Angry Birds to continue experimenting and trying new games, while updating, adding onto and enhancing the whole Angry Birds experience," he commented.
Slay the golden bird?
Agreeing with Andrew, however, many Mavens doubted Rovio would attempt to do anything successful beyond Angry Birds.
Consultant James Scalpello thought Rovio should keep milking the cash pig or take any $2+ billion offer.
"Like Tetris in the old days, Rovio should just keep riding that train, hitting the new platforms and devices and updating the content for the existing 130 million users," he said.
Also in alignment was ustwo's mills. "Nobody will care about anything from Rovio unless it's Angry Birds," he argued.
"People are not buying it because it's good - and Im not saying it isn't; they buy it because it's a brand that they acknowledge and will keep buying anything red and yellow. They have to suck the muck from the beak of success."
Locked in a cage
In this context, he didn't think anything other than Angry Birds' games were worth it.
"They would never be able to live up to the hype - disappointment would be felt even if it sold millions," he said.
Andrew agreed; "Unless any new franchise flies out of the box, it'd be dubbed a failure by a games press that seems to have little sympathy for the firm post-Vestabacka."
Bolt Creative's Dave Castelnuovo demonstrated that lack of sympathy wasn't restricted to the press, referring to the dress worn by the wife of CMO Peter Vestabacka at a reception given by the Finnish President.
"I think one of their projects for the new year might be a fashion line to compete with the likes of Dolce & Gabbana," he joked.
"Not since KISS have I seen such a shameless merchandising of a brand. I wonder when the Angry Birds Coffins come out? One other thing those at Rovio could work on their humility."
Lustancia's Joony Koo pointed out that Rovio has already expanded the experience way beyond gaming.
"If you look into app promotion tools - Tapjoy, Flurry, Ads, CPCVs, etc - you will always see Angry Birds. The studio is paying a significant marketing dollar to stay on the top of the list. And this for franchising its IP? Kinda makes sense."
He thought that, if Rovio is selling 20 million plush toys a year and making Hollywood movies, the firm already has enough expansions to deal with.
Thinking along those lines, he could see how Angry Birds has turned from a game into "a multi-platform distribution network, which created massive brand awareness, which led to a partnership with the big league - Angry Birds Rio with Fox Entertainment - and to the show biz cycle rolling on."
David MacQueen of Strategy Analytics agreed; "Rovio is, I believe, going to playing in the same space as GREE/OpenFeint and DeNA/ngmoco."
In this way, he expected Rovio to acquire and distribute other design-heavy IP, including Cut The Rope and Whale Trail, and keep running the cycle.
"And end up being Disney," he concluded. "Angry Birds would be Mickey Mouse and friends, the frog will be Winnie the Pooh, and the Whale can be Nemo."
Speaking for himself, though, that all sounds like too much hard work when Rovio has already been so successful.
"I would sell and hit the road. Lay down on a tropical beach in the Caribbean and slurp a cocktail or two and enjoy the sun."