Angry Birds, the popular gaming service from game developer Rovio, has been downloaded more than 700 million times and is expected to pass the 1 billion mark in 2012. Though the game was first released for the Apple App Store in late 2009, it was quickly ported to several other platforms, including the Android operating system and Google Chrome. That's not all.
Angry Birds is coming to Facebook. Rovio made the announcement in a blog post with an accompanying video, which shows screenshots of the video game. The game doesn't appear to be any different from other iterations; however, being that the new version will exist on the world's largest social network, may rumors are circulating that Angry Birds for Facebook will include social aspects, such as a leaderboard and other online competitions.
In March 2011, Rovio raised $42 million through a cohort of investors that included Facebook Inc., Groupon Inc. and Skype. They also boast roughly 40 million players per month and have also released a plethora of products to accompany the game. At Angry Birds Shop, people can purchase playing cards, plush toys, backpacks, pillows and even a Bad Piggies' Egg Recipes book.
Pop Culture Icon?
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Rovio is interested in turning Angry Birds into a larger entertainment franchise, eventually releasing animated shorts, TV shows and other licensed merchandise.
But what substantiates a pop culture icon more than anything?
A movie, of course, which is why Rovio has hired Marvel Studios Chairman David Maisel as a special adviser. Rovio CEO Mikhael Hed says that Maisel's experience in adapting comic-book franchises into movies made him a good fit for the company.
Two people I know that have gone outside the studio system and built a very significant entertainment business that managed to break through on the movie side. Since that's our aspiration as well--and George Lucas was unavailable--[Maisel] was really the best person we could have hoped to work with, said Hed.
In addition to the ventures outside of the gaming industry, it's rumored that Rovio will try to follow up the success of Angry Birds with four other spinoff games. Nvidia's mobile content vice president, Neil Trevett, was asked about moving to 2D games to 3D at the Mobile Game Forum 2012 and said, We've been speaking to Rovio, and they... before cutting himself short.
Similarities to Nintendo
Long before Mario became one of the most recognizable pop culture icons in the world, Nintendo was making a playing card game called Hanafuda. It wasn't long before the company found its niche in video game console making, creating the Nintendo Entertainment System, and following up with several iterations of their most popular game, Super Mario Bros.
In 1989, about four years after the release of the original game, Nintendo turned Super Mario Bros. into an animated television show called The Super Mario Bros. Super Show!, which is featured below:
Nintendo later followed that effort with another animated show, this time called Super Mario World.
In 1993, the Super Mario Bros. film was released to mostly negative reviews. The film tanked and came nowhere near recouping its $48 million budget.
Along the way, Nintendo has expanded its merchandise to plush toys, figurines, board games, clothing and a variety of other items. It's the tale of crossover success from a game distributor, and it's one that Rovio hopes to emulate in many ways. The key difference is this: Nintendo has always been a hardware provider while Rovio has focused specifically on being available across all platforms.