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How Rovio tweaked its gated production framework to offer more autonomy

VP Operations Cyril Barrow explains the evolving strategy

How Rovio tweaked its gated production framework to offer more autonomy

12 months ago, Angry Birds developer Rovio introduced a new production framework.

The firm's VP Operations Cyril Barrow - formerly of Digital Chocolate and a founder member at Gameloft Helsinki - recalls this on-stage at White Nights Prague.

The key mission: "We need to put a process in place in order to maximise the chances of delivering great games."

The thinking behind the strategy was to create a culture of fast failing similar to the one that has served fellow Finns Supercell so well, and it relied on "gates" at three key stages of a game's development.

Got the key?

These were identified as Strategy, Marketing & Design and Production. If a game was perceived as falling at any of these hurdles, Rovio would then be able to end its development.

"We were proud to say that we'd placed three big gates, and at any one of them we could kill the game," reflects Barrow.

"700 games, every day, are sumbitted to the App Store. Fun games are not enough anymore."

Creative control

However, the approach has since evolved. 

"We saw some issues," admits Barrow. A key one was that there was no gate between production and soft launch, meaning that there was not always a consideration of how a game build relates to its soft launch strategy.

"What do you want to learn, and is your build able to deliver those learnings?" queries Barrow. It's a question he feels developers don't ask enough, but it is now a key part of Rovio's framework.

More radically, however, Rovio has also since removed the Strategy and Marketing & Design gates, instead allowing more autonomy on the creative side in the early stages.

"We trust our product owners," Barrow concludes.


Features Editor

Matt is really bad at playing games, but hopefully a little better at writing about them. He's Features Editor for PocketGamer.biz, and has also written for lesser publications such as IGN, VICE, and Paste Magazine.

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