And Finally

Birds of play

Finland’s Rovio has plans to be China’s top foreign entertainment brand

Birds of play

Don’t get angry, get even

The UK Prime Minister David Cameron is a fan; so is writer Salman Rushdie. And now Rovio, a small Finnish software company, hopes that millions of Chinese will also come to love the Angry Birds too.

Angry Birds, which involves catapulting birds at elaborate fortresses built by catatonic green pigs, is one of the bestselling games for smartphones. More than 250 million copies have been sold worldwide since it first went on sale in 2009. And in China, the game has been downloaded 10 million times so far.

But Rovio has bigger ambitions and has announced plans to launch a Chinese version of the game. It says it expects to sell as many as 100 million copies in China alone this year.

“China for us is our fastest growing market but we are a small company from a small country so we need to adapt and create a special version for China. For example with Angry Birds Seasons, we will do Chinese seasons and culture. We want to be more Chinese than most Chinese games,” Peter Vesterbacka, head of Rovio, told the tech news blog TechNode.

But why do players love the seemingly mindless game? Perhaps because it brings out the “destruction lust” in even the nicest of people, says the MIT Entrepreneurship Review. But others say its an engaging way to kill time (and not just green pigs). Each gaming session is a short one, and the game is straightforward (remember how Tetris, the block-building challenge, was also so popular?) so it can be played even on the shortest bus trip.

Angry Birds is a good distraction from the issues of daily life, agrees Southern Metropolis Weekly.

Rovio also hopes that a deliberately Chinese version of its blockbuster hit will spearhead a broader commercial push. The gaming firm expects to open its first Angry Birds store in China this year, selling a wide range of merchandise. It has hopes for as many as 200 stores within the next three years. There is even talk of a TV show too.

“We are among the country’s three most copied brands, and next year, we want to be the most copied,” Vesterbacka joked with Marketing Week. At the Global Mobile Internet Conference in Beijing. Last month he went even further: “Next year we want to be the leading foreign entertainment brand in China,” he said .

Perhaps Ambitious Birds would be a more appropriate identifier…

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