Rovio announces Rovio Stars Publishing Initiative


Finnish mobile game developer and creator of Angry Birds Rovio Entertainment announced the launch of its third-party mobile game publishing initiative, Rovio Stars.

Icerbreaker: A Viking Voyage by developer Nitrome will be the first game published under the Rovio Stars Program, followed by Spanish developer 5 Ants’ stealth puzzle game, Tiny Thief.

Many mobile game developers like Pocket Gems, Zynga, and Kabam have launched their own third-party publishing programs recently, and we’ve heard rumors Rovio would launch a similar program for a while. In January, all but confirmed the program’s existance when it reported that 5 Ants had been signed with Rovio but at the time we weren’t certian that this was not a talent acquisition.

“Rovio Entertainment has positioned itself as one of the powerhouses of mobile entertainment, so moving into publishing is a logical step for us at this point”, Rovio’s executive vice president of games Jami Laes said in a statment. “We want to help our fans find quality entertainment among the more than 100,000 games available in app stores. That’s where Rovio Stars comes in.”

Games that leverage Rovio’s Angry Birds brand are immensely successful, with titles showing up at the top of our weekly charts regularly, but the developer’s more recent titles based on new IP have struggled. Amazing Alex, Rovio’s first new IP after Angry Birds, is currently the No. 258 top paid app in the games genre according to traffic tracking service AppData. The Croods, based on the DreamWorks animated motion picture, is currently the No. 247 top grossing app in the games genre.

Rovio said that Icerbreaker: A Viking Voyage is “coming soon” to iOS. Check back in with Inside Social Games for our full review.

Rovio’s revenues double in 2012 to €152.2 million

Rovio Angry Birds assetRovio today revealed its financial results for 2012, reporting revenues of €152.2 million ($195.5 million), a twofold increase from revenues in 2011 of €75.6 million ($97.1 million).

Profits were also up year-over-year from €35.4 million ($45.5 million) in 2011 to €55.5 million ($71.3 million) in 2012. Rovio also doubled the size of its company during 2012, from 224 employees to 518.

Rovio launched four games in 2012 — Angry Birds Space, Amazing Alex, Bad Piggies and Angry Birds Star Wars. The games helped Rovio surpass the one billion download mark by May 2012, and the total number of monthly active users across all platforms to 263 million in December 2012. In total, Rovio’s total number of game downloads has exceeded 1.7 billion. Rovio says its main revenue channels were paid games, virtual goods and advertising. Lastly, Rovio’s Consumer Products business unit, which creates the Angry Birds-branded merchandise such as toys, plushes and board games, accounted for 45 percent of the company’s revenue in 2012, up from 30 percent in 2011.

Recently, Rovio launched Angry Birds Toons, its cartoon series based off the company’s hit franchise, and The Croods, its most recent game based off DreamWorks’ animated feature but does’t have any Angry Birds affiliation.

The Espoo, Finland-headquartered company says the future of its business in 2013 will depend on successful new game launches, keeping fans engaged with its content and the success of new initiatives.

“We have had a stellar start for this year,” said Rovio CEO Mikael Hed, in a statement. “In addition to our successful games portfolio we recently launched our first Angry Birds Toons series through third party partners and our own in-game distribution channel. We will continue to strengthen our position in the entertainment business through continuing to innovate on our existing brands, exploring creating new IP as well as exploring opportunities with external parties.”

Icomania, Angry Birds, Vector and more on this week’s top free app charts

AppData logoDisney’s Wreck-It Ralph released on DVD last week and the movie tie-in game Fix-it Felix Jr. saw a nice boost in its rank, moving to the No. 14 spot on the top free iPhone apps chart and the No. 10 spot on the top free iPad apps chart. Last week, Rovio removed the upfront cost for the original Angry Birds — the game is also the featured App of the Week on the App App Store — so the game saw a nice lift in rank, flying to the No. 1 spot for iPad and No. 3 spot for iPhone. From the developers of 4 Pics 1 Word, Games for Friends, icon picture guessing game Icomania grabbed the No. 1 spot this week for iPhone and the No 6 spot for iPad.

Free running action game Vector, from developer Nekki, was the one notable app to make the top 25 on the top free Android apps chart, jumping to the No. 16 spot.

This week’s top free iPhone apps

Name Rank Change In App Purchases
1. Icomania 1 ▲4 No
2. 4 Pics 1 Word 2 ▲1 Yes
3. Angry Birds 3 ▼2 Yes
4. 94 Seconds 4 ▼2 No
5. Candy Crush Saga 5 ▲2 Yes
6. Real Racing 3 6 = Yes
7. CocoPPa 7 ▼3 No
8. TV Show tracker 8 No
9. Free Apps for a Rainy Day 9 ▲57 No
10. YouTube 10 ▼1 No
11. Google Maps 11 ▼3 No
12. Temple Run 2 12 ▲3 Yes
13. Flight Unlimited Las Vegas 13 ▼2 No
14. Fix-it Felix Jr. 14 ▲89 No
15. MouthOff McDonald’s 15 ▲4 No
16. Snapchat 16 ▼4 No
17. Icon Pop Brand 17 ▲173 No
18. What’s the Pic? 18 = No
19. Subway Surfers 19 ▲1 Yes
20. Instagram 20 ▼4 No
21. The Harlem Shake 21 ▼8 No
22. Bingo Seasons 22 ▲59 Yes
23. Vine 23 ▼6 No
24. Emoji & Unicode Icons 24 ▼2 No
25.x Bible 25 ▲124 No


This week’s top free iPad apps

Name Rank Change In App Purchases
1. Angry Birds HD 1 = Yes
2. Real Racing 3 2 = Yes
3. 4 Pics 1 Word 3 = Yes
4. Candy Crush Saga 4 = Yes
5. YouTube 5 ▲1 No
6. Icomania 6 ▲5 No
7. Flight Unlimited Las Vegas 7 ▼2 No
8. Make-Up Salon 8 ▲25 No
9. Temple Run 2 9 ▼1 Yes
10. Fix-it Felix Jr. 10 ▲64 No
11. Bingo Vegas HD 11 ▲7 Yes
12. Calculator for iPad Free 12 ▼3 Yes
13. Skype for iPad 13 ▼3 Yes
14. NBC 14 ▲89 No
15. Subway Surfers 15 = Yes
16. Puppy Dog Sitter 16 ▼9 No
17. ProCam XL 17 No
18. Netflix 18 ▲3 No
19. Monsters, Inc. Run 19 ▼7 Yes
20. The Weather Channel for iPad 20 = No
21. HISTORY 21 ▲8 No
22. What’s the Pic? 22 ▼5 No
23. Bubble Mania 23 = Yes
24. Podcasts 24 ▼2 No
25.x Sonic The Hedgehog 4 Episode II Lite 25 ▲96 No


This week’s top free Android apps


Name Rank Change
1. Facebook 1 =
2. Pandora 2 =
3. 4 Pics 1 Word 3 =
4. Instagram 4 =
5. Temple Run 2 5 =
6. Facebook Messenger 6 =
7. Candy Crush Saga 7 =
8. Subway Surfers 8 =
9. Skype 9 =
10. Netflix 10 =
11. Tango 11 =
12. Twitter 12 =
13. The Weather Channel 13 =
14. Zedge 14 =
15. Fruit Ninja Free 15 =
16. Vector 16 ▲2
17. Adobe Reader 17 ▼1
18. Yahoo! Mail 18 ▼1
19. Kik Messenger 19 =
20. Brightest Flashlight Free 20 ▲1
21. Ruzzle Free 21 ▼1
22. Angry Birds 22 =
23. DH Texas Poker 23 ▲1
24. iHeartRadio 24 ▼1
25.x eBay 25 =



All data in this post comes from our traffic tracking service AppData.


Angry Birds Toons to be accessible within Angry Birds games, will begin airing March 16 to 17

Rovio logoMobile game developer Rovio today announced that Angry Birds Toons, an upcoming cartoon series based on the company’s popular game franchise, will be accessible within all Angry Birds mobile games.

After installing an update, any of the Angry Birds apps will be able to get access to a new channel button in each game’s home screen, which is where users can watch episodes of the show.

The cartoon series is scheduled to begin airing this upcoming weekend (March 16 for broadcast TV and March 17 for on-demand services) on a dedicated channel within Rovio’s game portfolio, and on Comcast’s U.S. video platforms like Xfinity on Demand, and in the Xfinity TV Player app on Samsung Smart TVs. Rovio plans to add support for Roku and other platforms in the future. In other parts of the world, the Angry Birds Toons will air on FOX8 in Australia, JEI TV in South Korea, ANTV in Indonesia, Cartoon Networking in India, MTV3 Juniori and MTV3 in Finland, the Children’s Channel in Israel, 1+1 networks in Ukraine, Gulli and Canal J in France, SUPER RTL in Germany, TV2 in Norway, Canal 13 in Chile and Gloob in Brazil. Rovio has also partnered with Activision, Paramount Pictures, BlackBerry and Sony Pictures for the launch of the Angry Birds Toons channel.

So far, Rovio has planned 52 episodes for the cartoon series, with a new episode scheduled to air every Sunday. Rovio hopes the cartoon show will help with increasing installs as well as its engagement and retention rates for its Angry Birds games.

Mobile app news roundup: Angry Birds, Cut the Rope and how many mobile gamers are willing to pay

30 percent of mobile gamers pay — A new study from the NPD group states that about 30 percent of mobile gamers are willing to pay for an upgrade or make an in-app purchase. The study also found that $3 — not $0.99 — was the best price for an upgrade fee or in-app purchase, as it seemed to present the best intersection of value and price. The news is in agreement with earlier claims from the Aaron Rubenson, the director of the Amazon Appstore for Android. Earlier this year Rubenson revealed that the higher the price-point, the more likely Amazon customers were to convert, reporting IAPs priced at $4.99 were more popular than those priced at $2.99.

Scalify expands support to iOS and Android — Scalify’s Badumna network suite is now supported on iOS and Android. The tool allows developers to add real-time multiplayer to single player games and to create multiplayer MMO type titles. The tool can also manage user synchronization, chat and friend lists.

Angry Birds has 20 to 30 million DAU, 200 million MAU — How many people play Rovio’s games? According to EVP of strategic partnerships Andrew Stalbow, the company is currently seeing 200 million monthly active users and anywhere between 20 and 30 million daily active users. Stalbow was speaking at the MIPCOM conference in Cannes.

Former Glu Mobile exec sets up Fei Hu Interactive – Robert Hayes has revealed his latest business venture is Chinese-based mobile developer and publisher Fei Hu Interactive. The new company has offices in both Beijing and Hong Kong and is currently working on its first game. Hayes, who was formerly VP and managing director for Asia Pacific at Glu Mobile leads the company as CEO. Industry veteran Simon Slee is Fei Hu’s VP of publishing.

Heyzap launches Play with Friends social feature – Android-based mobile-social gaming network HeyZap has added a new feature called Play With Friends that makes it easier for its users to connect, reports VentureBeat. The new feature connects players of similar skill level and with similar game interests.

Cut the Rope passes 250 million downloads – ZeptoLab’s Cut the Rope has now been downloaded more than 250 million times, and boasts more than 50 million monthly active users according to CEO Misha Lyalin.

ROUTE 66’s mapping app passes 1 million Android downloads — Swiss company ROUTE 66 reports its navigation app ROUTE 66 Maps + Navigation has been downloaded more than 1 million times. The app is free an monetizes through a one-time lifetime license fee of $64.99. The app can provide turn-by-turn navigation information for 80 countries.

NimbleBit brings Pocket Planes, Tiny Tower to life with animated shorts – Nimblebit is bringing its popular free-to-play mobile games Tiny Tower and Pocket Planes to life in a series of six animated shorts, the first of which is available on YouTube. The shorts were created by Canadian comedy troupe LoadingReadyRun.

Disclosure: Inside Mobile Apps writer Kathleen De Vere is a member of LoadingReadyRun. She contributed to the creation of the shorts and provides voices for several characters in them.  


[Launch] Gamevil brings Duels of Fate to Android — Gamevil’s take on the increasingly popular card-battle genre, Duels of Fate, is now live on Android. The title has been downloaded more than 10,000 times since it launched on Oct. 10.

[Acquisition] Mobilisafe acquired by Rapid7 – Mobile security startup Mobilisafe has been acquired by another security firm, the Boston-based Rapid7. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

[Funding] Swarm nets $1 million in seed funding — Shopping startup Swarm has raised $1 million in seed funding for its technology, which promises to help physical retailers connect to shoppers while they’re in-store via their smartphones, reports TechCrunch.

Bad Piggies hits No. 1 in more than 37 countries — impressive, but not as good Angry Birds Space or Amazing Alex

Maybe people just don’t like those green pigs after all. Bad Piggies, the Angry Birds spin-off repaints the iconic hogs as heros doesn’t seem to be seeing the same launch day success that Angry Birds Space and Amazing Alex did.

The game was released today at 3:00 am pacific standard time, or 1:00 pm in the afternoon Helsinki time. When Inside Mobile Apps checked the iTunes app store this morning the game was the No. 1 paid iPhone app in 37 countries and the No. 1 paid iPad app in 39, including: Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Taiwan, France, Sweden, Spain, Norway and Russia.

The game is in the top 10 of the paid iPhone app charts in 40 countries, and in the top 10 of the paid iPad app charts in a further 36 including: China, Mexico, the U.K, India, the U.K., Japan and South Korea.

Interestingly, the game was the top grossing iPhone or iPad app just 9 countries when we checked:  the U.S., Belarus, Finland, Hungary, Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Macedonia and Poland.

The game, which costs $0.99 on the iPhone and $2.99 on the iPad hasn’t seen the same chart reception as either Angry Birds Space or Amazing Alex, Rovio’s last two releases.

The highly anticipated (and heavily promoted) Angry Birds Space was an instant hit, shooting into the No. 1 spot on both the top grossing and top paid charts in dozens of countries including key markets like Germany, France, the U.K., the U.S. and China. Amazing Alex was also able to put in a strong debut on the paid app charts, hitting No. 1 in 53 countries on the iPhone and 68 on the iPad, although it wasn’t able to crack the top grossing app charts in key markets such as Japan, China or the U.S.

As is typical, the app hasn’t yet shown up on the U.S. Google Play charts, as Google’s chart ranking algorithm tends to update slower than the one Apple uses. The game is free on Android and monetizes via ads, and comes in both a standard and an HD version designed for tablets. The game is also available as a $2.99 Kindle in the Amazon Appstore, and as a $4.99 download in the Mac App Store.

It would be disingenuous to say the game isn’t a hit considering how many charts Bad Piggies is currently on top of, but it’s likely Rovio were hoping for a better debut for the title. The company’s last game, Amazing Alex started strongly, but hasn’t been able to hold its momentum. According to our traffic tracking service AppData, the iPhone version of the game is currently the No. 107 top paid app and the No. 368 top grossing game in the U.S. The HD version is the No. 117 top paid iPad app and the No. 226 iPad app in the games genre. For Bad Piggies to see the same kind of success its Angry Bird precursors have, it will need to hold the momentum its built up today. We’ll be watching the title’s performance closely.

Angry Birds Makes the Leap to Web at Google I/O

Rovio Mobile is bringing its smash hit Angry Birds to the web. The company’s “Mighty Eagle,” Peter Vesterbacka, who handles business development and partnerships, made the announcement on-stage at Google’s developer conference today in San Francisco.

“We think Chrome is a great environment for Angry Birds,” he said, saying that the company had held off on bringing it to the web for fear of compromising quality. The game supports WebGL and Canvas and has special, exclusive levels for users of the Chrome browser.

The web-based version of Angry Birds will also monetize through in-app payments — users can purchase the Mighty Eagle virtual good, which helps them clear levels they’re having difficulty on. Google said today that the Chrome Web Store’s in-app billing system will have a 5 percent transaction fee, lower than the typical 30-70 split seen on other platforms like iOS, Facebook and Android.

Will the web version prove as successful as mobile? Hard to say, but likely not, since Angry Birds is an excellent time-killer for mobile users with a few minutes to spare here and there. With its consistent ranking at the top of the charts on both iOS and Android, it also has easy distribution and lots of visibility in front of consumers.

The web launch today should pave the way for an anticipated launch of Angry Birds on the Facebook platform later this year. Vesterbacka told us in March that the company had been working on this version for a year.

Angry Birds Revenue From Android, iOS Now Roughly Even, Rovio Says

In another bellwether for Android’s growing impact on the mobile gaming industry, Angry Birds is producing roughly even revenue from both Google’s platform and iOS, says its recently-funded maker Rovio.

With Android gearing up to launch in-app payments later this year and its growing market share, expect this trend to accelerate. The company said in December that it expected to make $1 million per month from Android by the end of 2010. (For a longer interview on Rovio’s strategy in 2011, click here.)

However, there are a couple factors to consider:

1) We’re comparing a platform with primarily one-off revenue to a platform with continuous revenue. On iOS, Angry Birds monetizes mostly through paid downloads. Now that the app has seen about 100 million installs across all platforms, Rovio is not getting the same initial bump in paid download revenue from Apple’s app store. On Android, the company doesn’t offer paid Angry Birds apps, but sees recurring revenue from advertising.

2) Android’s pool of apps is smaller and less competitive with only 150,000 apps to Apple’s 350,000. In fact, Angry Birds advertising inventory is so large that it equals AdMob’s inventory from 2 1/2 years ago. It’s so enormous that other AdMob-dependent developers have told us that it’s hard for them to fill their inventory because Rovio’s titles absorb so much.

3) The sheer number of users is starting to work in Android’s favor. Android recently overtook Blackberry-maker RIM as the leading smartphone platform in the U.S. in January, according to Comscore.

Rovio Has Been Working On The Facebook Version of Angry Birds For A Year


Angry Birds has toppled competitors on the iOS and Android leaderboards. But can it do the same on Facebook?

In an interview, Peter Vesterbacka, from the game’s maker Rovio, stressed that the company is taking a very deliberate approach with bringing its smash hit to the Facebook platform. It’s been working on the game, which is set to launch in May, for about a year and it’s one of the largest internal projects in the company.

The title will have new social and viral mechanics and likely extend the company’s experiments with virtual goods. Angry Birds currently offers a Mighty Eagle virtual good, which users can pay for to pass challenging levels in the game. He wouldn’t reveal exactly how the game will be different, but it will be in beta in mid-April.

Like many social gaming companies who have tried to move from the Facebook platform to mobile, going in the reverse direction is also challenging. Popcap Games has been the one exceptional success with Bejeweled Blitz, although others like Bolt Creative have tried with titles like Pocket God. Glu Mobile is a more recent entrant; it brought its popular action title Gun Bros to Facebook earlier this year.

“You can’t take an experience that works in one environment and one ecosystem and force-feed it onto another,” he said. “It’s like Zynga. They can’t just take Farmville and throw it on mobile and see what sticks. The titles that have been successful for them on mobile are the ones they’ve built from the ground up for the platform.”

In the long-run, Rovio, will be move to HTML5 like other game developers. Interestingly enough though, Vesterbacka said Angry Birds is now making as much money from Android as it is from iOS. (You can read more about that here.)

Extending The Franchise

With its recent $42 million round of funding from Atomico Ventures, Accel Partners and Felicis Ventures, Rovio plans on deepening the Angry Birds franchise with everything from new games to movies, books and plush toys (of which 2 million have been sold). They’re also building PC and console versions of the game for Xbox and PS3; they recently completed a deal for Intel to bring Angry Birds to its netbooks.

One of the reasons Accel was appealing as a partner, Vesterbacka said, was its ties to the entertainment industry. Accel’s Jim Breyer, who also sits on Facebook’s board, saw comic book giant Marvel through its acquisition by Disney.

“We’re looking at every type of entertainment,” Vesterbacka said. “We don’t view ourselves as a gaming company. It’s like how Apple dropped ‘Computer’ from its name.”

The company may use of some its funding for acquisitions, but they might not be in the gaming space. They might be targeted more at helping Angry Birds cross over into other forms of entertainment.

Even if Rovio doesn’t create entirely new intellectual property, there are plenty of ways to extend the Angry Birds universe, including, for example, games from the pigs’ perspective.

“It’s like Mario. He drove a car into space and that became Super Mario Galaxy,” he said.

Making A Platform Play

They’re also embarking on significant platform play with a series of virtual goods, identity and in-app payments products.

Already there is a Mighty Eagle SDK, which the company launched at GDC last week. It’s an extension of the Mighty Eagle virtual good, which about 40 percent of new players pay for on iOS, Vesterbacka said.

Third-party game developers can also offer the Mighty Eagle virtual good in their games to gives users hints or help them pass challenges. In Remedy’s remake of Death Rally for iOS, players will be able to pay to have the Mighty Eagle swoop in and kill off an opponent. If the player has also bought the Mighty Eagle in Angry Birds, it will have even stronger powers.

“Other games will help us promote the Mighty Eagle on our behalf. It’s a bit of a game changer for us and more of a platform play,” Vesterbacka said.

The company also announced an in-app payments solutions for developers last year called Bad Piggy Bank. With Google set to launch its own in-app payments system, Bad Piggy Bank won’t work in the officially sanctioned Android Marketplace. But it will in others, like Amazon’s forthcoming Android store or independent app store Getjar, which shares an investor with Rovio in Accel Partners.

There are also plans to build a federated identity or gaming log-in that would tie in Facebook Connect and Apple ID. They would also open up any kind of internal leaderboard system they build to third-party developers, which would make them a competitor to mobile gaming networks like OpenFeint and Scoreloop.

In terms of marketing and advertising, Rovio will probably do four to five premium brand advertising deals a year. They recently did one with Microsoft’s Bing where they created four animated shorts that extended the storyline: the pigs used the search engine to look for and steal the birds’ eggs.

Vesterbacka said the company doesn’t want to pigeonhole the brand to just children. “We’re going after a four quadrant strategy, meaning we want to reach men, women, boys and girls. We want to be for everyone from 2 to 99-years-old,” he said.

Focusing on China

Rovio is also focused on expanding in China, the company’s second largest market after the U.S. While the U.S. accounts for more than half of the company’s revenues, China has just recently emerged as a significant market.

They plan on bringing Angry Birds to all the big social gaming platforms there including Tencent and RenRen. For now, the monetization strategy there is still similar with paid downloads and advertising. Their most popular mobile platforms there are Android and Nokia.

Q&A: Accel’s Rich Wong on the Firm’s Big Bet With Angry Birds

Rich Wong of Accel Partners is more or less a fixture in mobile venture investing. While seeing Admob through to its $750 million sale to Google, he’s also made a number of notable investments in companies like Getjar, Mopub and 3LM, which was acquired before launch by Motorola.

His latest investment was with Angry Birds-maker Rovio, which attracted a $42 million Series A investment, after its title became the little-physics-game-that-could with nearly 100 million downloads.

A number of top-tier VCs like Sequoia and Andreessen Horowitz have gone in on mobile gaming in the last few months. But it seems like you really held out for the crown jewels with Rovio.

Well, I’m just a VC. I’ve known Peter Vesterbacka for nine years. And I told him, I have to work with you on this one. We’ve been waiting essentially a decade for the market to look like this. Is this a mass market idea? Can it scale?

When I saw all of my five-year-old nieces and nephews playing this game every day, I just knew that I really, really wanted to be part of this company. But Peter would say that they were just doing fine and that they didn’t need venture capital.

The story goes back to last summer when he first started at Rovio. Every four to five months, Peter and I would get together at different mobile conferences.When I saw him last summer, I asked him what he was up to. What’s going on? What’s hot? And he said he was going to do this thing called Angry Birds.

I knew it was at the top of the rankings, but I wondered, could it stay up there? It wasn’t obvious to me that it was going to be what it is today. It was still the very early days. So we stayed in touch, and then by mid-summer or so, I began to think — wow, it’s really taking off. They’re really continuing to stay at the top of the leaderboards.

I started to call them often and ask: Do you want to work together? Ultimately, it took nine months from summer until March to convince them. It’s great. If it takes that long, it’s still worth it.

Were you talking to anyone else?

I did talk to a few others. But there really aren’t others like this one. Obviously, I’m biased. But if you think about it — 200 million minutes of usage a day. 40 million monthly actives. This just doesn’t happen. It just doesn’t happen that a game that my 5-year-old loves is the same game my 40-year-old brother loves.

We’ve got a long ways to go. There are a lot of things that could not go right, but it’s a special company.

Is the valuation you went in on essentially a bet on Angry Birds alone? Or is it on the assumption that Rovio can successfully launch new IP? Basically, are you betting that they can not only create a Mario Bros.-style franchise, but a Zelda one too?

Angry Birds already has multiple flavors. There’s Seasons, Rio and other derivatives. Obviously, there is other physics-related gameplay they could do. But there is so much they can do with the content and characters they already have. They’ve found a way to keep it going in a way that very few other people have.

That’s thing one. Thing two is — remember JAMDAT? If that company was worth $680 million and they were making games on the Motorola Razr, which was state of the art at that time, and the market was an order of magnitude smaller than it is today, I think Rovio could be a very valuable company. Even with that valuation, you wouldn’t have to count on anything that’s not completely in line of sight to get a financial return.

But honestly, this thing can go in a whole bunch of different ways. It can go toward new IP. Or maybe they can create games from the pig’s point of view, like Peter has said in the past.

There’s all these other extensions like the Facebook launch. Rio is about to launch. Then you’ve got all of these other market dynamics like the Verizon iPhone, the acceleration of Android, the iPad 2. This is all going to accelerate the market dramatically.

Or if you think about this way — Angry Birds’ ad inventory alone is similar to Admob’s total inventory a little over 2 1/2 years ago. Think about all the deals that Jason Spero and Omar Hamoui had to strike to get there. Angry Birds is already that size.

You’re suggesting that Rovio sell its own inventory and cut out the networks?

Well, no. The New York Times has its own inventory they sell themselves but they also have remnant invetory that they put out to the networks. Rovio can sell X% itself and put Y% through Admob. You’re already seeing the beginnings of that with the Bing and Angry Birds deal, for example.

If you add that, plus different ways of extending the franchise — maybe with titles from the pigs’ perspective — you can see yourself through with a very nice outcome without assuming anything bigger.

The best part about this, is that this is an overnight success that took eight years to happen. This isn’t their first game. This is their 52nd game. These guys worked their asses off for years developing titles for Nokia and other devices. My point is that they had the discipline to go through all the things that were not successful — all those mistakes, all those landmines, all that institutional knowledge.

It’s a bit of truism that after you look at all the revenue and EBITDA multiples and the left-brain quantitative aspects of being a VC, it really comes down to: do you believe in the team or not?

These guys do not just have in theory an ability to fight through. They’ve proven themselves. They’ve fought through many tough times before. That’s why it’s a joy when you find a team you really believe in. I really believe in these guys.

How do you think venture capital money is going to change the landscape for smaller, indie mobile gaming developers? Are we going to see what happened on the Facebook platform where costs of user acquisition rise to the point where you end up with a handful of dominant companies like Zynga and EA Playfish?

It’s only the second inning. We just started. The iPhone is less than 3.5 years years old. Android is less than 2 years old. The iPad is 1.2 years old.

We’re just starting. There’s a ton of room for continued innovation. Do I believe and do I hope that Rovio is one of those dominant companies? I think they have earned the right to have a shot at it. I don’t want to be an oligopolist for saying it, but they have a very interesting position in the ecosystem.

While the industry has been moving to a free-to-play model with virtual currencies, Rovio has seemed to mostly stand by the premium, paid app model? Should they make the transition too?

They do have that Mighty Eagle virtual good purchase [which helps users pass a difficult level]. Everybody is going free-to-play with virtual goods. That’s the new Silicon Valley model. These guys are from Espoo, Finland. They don’t feel like they need to play conventionally. They’re fine with being off the beaten track.

Rovio has publicly criticized Android’s payments infrastructure in the past. Can Google get it right this year?

It has nowhere to go but towards improvement. Will it rival iTunes’ fitness in the next six months? I don’t know, but it will get better.

What’s Facebook’s role in mobile payments? Surely, they’ll want to have access to downstream revenues from their platform on mobile. But Apple is exerting more control. It seems like there is a natural tension there.

I’ve thought a lot about app stores, but not as much about payments. If I had my Facebook-Accel hat on, I couldn’t tell you. But from the more simplistic point of view of being an investor in Rovio, the good news is that all of these platform battles will make life better for them.

When I talk to mobile developers, they seem to be mostly thinking about Android or iOS. But when I talk to people who have been working in the mobile industry for a long time, they really hesitate to count any other platform out. Is it officially a two horse-race now?

Without the Nokia deal, it felt pretty uphill for Microsoft. One billion dollars buys you a lot of distribution. Nokia still ships a boatload of volume. Now it’s about how quickly they can move to those platforms. There will be some devices this year but the volume devices will come in 2012. That feels a little slow. The next-generation Android tablets will be out by then. Maybe it is a three-horse race. But if they miss another step, they may not be able to catch up.

That’s not a super insightful answer. I think they have a shot, but they had to pay for it.

Any last, less obvious thoughts on Rovio?

Rovio sold over 2 million plush toys. As a VC, I never thought I’d say the word plush toys in any context.

Whether it’s consumer brands or entertainment franchises, there are very few things that earn the right to get there. There are very few brands that get to be the Snoopy stuffed animal you get when you’re four years old that you keep until you’re much older so you can give it to your children.

Maybe this is a very biased Rovio point, but they are a brand with the potential to achieve that.

Free-to-play with virtual goods, Admob advertising, the one-time download, the subscription and so on — that’s the conventional gaming wisdom. But what if it’s all about plush toys? I know that it sounds crazy or odd. But maybe it’s $30 pigs.

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