We talk about fans, not users or customers, says Rovio's Vesterbacka

Mighty Eagle bigs up branding for Angry Bird's future

We talk about fans, not users or customers, says Rovio's Vesterbacka

The future of Rovio and Angry Birds will rely on the strength of the brand, according to the company’s Mighty Eagle Peter Vesterbacka.

Speaking at Mobile World Congress about what the first five years and the next five years hold for the company, Vesterbacka cited Mickey Mouse, Mario and Hello Kitty as inspirations for a company struggling to monetise in the free-to-play mobile gaming market.

Building a brand

Initially steering the conversation away from commercial performance, Vesterbacka emphasised how branding and spin off opportunities are driving the future of the company.

“We don’t talk about users, we don’t talk about customers. We talk about fans,” said Vesterbacka.

For him, that means constructing a strong identity to retain interest in their titles long after their initial release.

We don’t talk about users. We don’t talk about customers. We talk about fans,
Peter Vesterbacka

“In terms of mobile gaming, five years is a long time. But in terms of branding, we’re only a baby” he said, before citing that 93 percent of the China market and 90 percent of the Indian market know the Angry Birds'  brand.

And that has driven their commercial strategy. Pointing to the fact that 47 percent of commercial revenue comes from licensing, Vesterbacka believes it will help keep them raised above the crowded mobile market.

“Every little detail matters. You don’t just need to make the best games, you need to build the best brand.”

Puzzles and branding

But despite their branding success, Vesterbacka admitted that Rovio hadn’t built a free-to-play success.

Asking the audience how many knew Puzzle & Dragons before revealing their multi-billion dollar revenues, he candidly admitted Rovio hadn’t reached their level.

Puzzle & Dragons made more money by itself than we did last year. We haven’t had a multi billion dollar free-to-play success, not that we wouldn’t like to, but we believe our brand will help us in the long run.”

Vesterbacka on stage at Mobile World Congress

And it is fair to say that brand certainly has had an impact.

Highlighting the fact that Angry Birds Go! achieved 100 million installs without user acquisition and the 4 billion views of the Angry Birds Toons channel, it is, according to Vesterbacka, now a driver of a broader shift in company mentality.

“We’re becoming a branded entertainment company”, he said.

Peter Vesterbacka will be speaking at Pocket Gamer Connects Bangalore on April 16th-17th and you can buy your tickets here.

Staff Writer

George Osborn (no, not that one) has been ensnared by to write words for them on pain of death/in return for money. He works with the events team to produce pitch perfect editorial for Pocket Gamer's ever-expanding events schedule, as well as working on advice features and articles to help game developers make the most of mobile.