Rovio: Angry Birds was almost cancelled

Studio had to rediscover the 'magic'

Rovio: Angry Birds was almost cancelled
It's seems fitting that, at a time when Angry Bird's rise to prominence has been highlighted on these very pages, Rovio should detail just how close the game came to being scrapped.

Speaking during last week's Slush Conference in the Finnish capital Helsinki, co-founder Niklas Hed said before the launch of the game, Rovio had been forced to let many staff go, with selling the company a real prospect.

A matter of magic

"In 2008 I had to lay off 20 of my friends, in the end I always knew that we’d show the whole world we could do an Angry Birds," said Hed.

"Easier solutions would have been to sell the company or join a big company."

Asked whether Angry Birds was almost cancelled as a result, Hed admitted the game's formative stages weren't easy.

"It was two months down the line and it was my summer holiday. The magic from initial screen seemed to have gone," he added.

"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."

Going 'all in'

Nevertheless, the eventual launch of Angry Birds saw Rovio propelled into the limelight, with the company now standing as one of the most successful game developers on the planet.

"When most developers have a hit they think they know how to do it," added 'Mighty Eagle' Peter Vesterbacka.

"They think 'let's do another one'. We decided not to do that and to go all-in on Angry Birds - let’s bet the company on one brand.

"I'm never happy and want to do more. The thing I worry about is are we doing things fast enough and at a big enough scale. We're off to a good start. At the time I said we'd have 100 million downloads, nobody believed me."

Game on?

But getting bigger still doesn't necessarily mean a continued focus on games for Rovio.

"In a few years more than half our businesses will be physical," Vesterbacka added, building on comments he'd previously made suggesting he's looking for half of Rovio's revenue to come from the sale of physical goods.

"Not quite 50/50 yet, but all our businesses are growing at a good click. We stopped viewing ourselves as a gaming company a few years ago. We're really concentrating on how do we surprise and delight our fans. Want to be active in all parts of entertainment and improve the experience.

"As long as people willing to give us their hard-earned money then we're doing the right thing. We don’t worry if we can really do 50 percent or 60 percent - let’s just make sure that all our businesses grow very very fast."


A footy game fanatic and experienced editor of numerous computing and game titles, lively Chris is up for anything - including running Steel Media! (Madman!)


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