Angry Birds lose a few feathers in first revenue drop

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It's hard out there on a pig. Photo: Rovio Entertainment
It's hard out there on a pig. Photo: Rovio Entertainment

It’s tough at the top.

Mobile video game publisher Rovio Entertainment detailed Thursday its first revenue drop since the Finnish company hit it big with the Angry Birds franchise in 2009.

Perhaps the saturation of the market with no less than 11 Angry Birds-themed games since then (and three spin-offs) and way too many toys and animation projects has something to do with the loss of revenue, down 9 percent to $170.6 million in 2014.

Of course, as Rovio’s mobile gaming business did rise a bit (16 percent), making the overall drop in revenue that more incredible, the company seems to be focused on doubling-down on its mobile game offerings.

“2014 results show that steps in the game portfolio, free to play competency building and advertising are going in the right direction. I am confident that with new simplified organisation and clearer vision, we will be back to the path of growth in 2015,” said CEO Pekka Rantala in a statement.

Angry Birds soared to the top of the charts in 2009, just one year after the App Store existed. The first sequel was Angry Birds: Seasons, followed by a tie-in to animated movie Rio and a few less-well received mobile games. In the toy arena, from plush birds and piggies to board games from Mattel, Rovio has moved 10 million officially licensed toys. The franchise is globally recognized, mentioned on TV shows, in movies, and even referenced in other video games.

This market saturation is one that’s hard to sustain as players and non-gamers get tired of the avians and Rovio has yet to offer a compelling alternative to its successful formula. Spin offs like Bad Piggies or the girl-themed Stella, while good games, never quite captured the same initial enthusiasm of the first game, or even that of Angry Birds Star Wars.

Instead of looking to branch out to new brands and ideas, though, Rovio is focusing on adding new Birds-related games to the mix as well as a Summer 2016 release of a the planned Angry Birds movie starring Jason Sudeikis, Josh Gad, Maya Rudolph, and Peter Dinklage.

In other words, they want to saturate the market even more.