Why Did Angry Birds Go Bankrupt?
Angry Birds is now completely and utterly irrelevant. If you could travel back in time and tell this fact to somebody in the early 2010s, they simply wouldn’t have believed you. That’s because a decade ago, Angry Birds was more than just the #1 mobile-game series of all time. Angry Birds was a true media empire with games, toys, movies and more. But Now? The name “Angry Birds” is nothing but a distant memory. The brand has rapidly faded into irrelevance, and is now a forgotten relic of the Internet’s past. source
The classic version of Angry Birds is being delisted from Google Play but renamed on the App Store
If you want to get classic Angry Birds from Google Play — the version that costs just a buck and isn’t laden with microtransactions — you’d better get it quick. Rovio Classics: Angry Birds, a rebuilt version of the original mobile hit, will be delisted from Google’s app store on Thursday due to “the game’s impact on our wider games portfolio,” developer Rovio announced on Tuesday. Oddly, the App Store version will still be available, though Rovio’s plan is to change the game’s name to Red’s First Flight.
My guess is that Rovio is delisting this remake of Angry Birds to push people toward its free-to-play games in the series that make money off microtransactions. As a $1 one-time purchase, the Rovio Classics version of the game likely doesn’t make nearly the same amount of money as its other Angry Birds titles do. That $1 price may also be enough to keep players away from other games in the series, which means Rovio might feel like it’s leaving money on the table by still offering Rovio Classics: Angry Birds on Google Play.
hat said, I don’t know why Rovio isn’t just changing the name of the game on Google Play like it is on the App Store. While the change to Red’s First Flight will likely make the game much harder to find unless you know exactly what you’re looking for, it will at least still be there as an option. Rovio didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Here is a transcribed version of Rovio’s full Twitter message about the change, which is a little difficult to read in the tweet:
We have reviewed the business case of Rovio Classics: Angry Birds, and due to the game’s impact on our wider games portfolio, we have decided that Rovio Classics: Angry Birds will be unlisted from the Google Play Store on Thursday, February 23. Additionally, the game will be renamed to Red’s First Flight in the App Store pending further review. Rovio Classics: Angry Birds will remain playable on devices on which the game has been downloaded, even after it has been unlisted.
We understand that this is sad news for many fans, as well as the team that has worked hard to make Rovio Classics: Angry Birds a reality. We are extremely grateful to the Angry Birds fans who have shown their love of the brand and this game from the beginning. We hope those fans can continue to bring that passion to our live Angry Birds slingshot games such as Angry Birds 2, Angry Birds Friends, and Angry Birds Journey, where our goal every day is to craft the best possible experience for players.
The name of the company that created the silly app about angry birds is Rovio. They are a video game developer based in Helsinki, Finland. Some have referred to them as “Finland’s Disney.”1
Rovio was started in 2003 by three Helsinki University of Technology students, Niklas Hed, Jarno Väkeväinen and Kim Dikert, after they won first place in a mobile game development competition sponsored by Nokia and Hewlett-Packard.2
For their first seven years, Rovio created 51 games for other companies. Their business expanded. But by the beginning of 2009 they were in trouble. In fact, they were staring bankruptcy in the face. Their resources had run out and they had fired most of their staff, leaving only 12 employees.3
To survive, Rovio needed a handling, and they needed one fast. Sometimes all the plans, projects, good intentions and hard work don’t pull a company out of the weeds. Sometimes it takes something a little less serious, a little more, well, games-y.
In an article L. Ron Hubbard wrote in 1972 titled “Proper Format and Correct Action,” he said: “Handling quite often but not always requires a BRIGHT IDEA. It is peculiarly true that the less the resources available the brighter the idea required to attain effective handling.”
One might not think of a “bright idea” as an administrative tool, but it is. In fact, it may be the one of the most powerful tools in a company’s “toolbox.” In the case of Rovio, this certainly was the case.
The first iPhones had just come out, and Rovio wanted to create a game app for that platform—something owned by them, their own intellectual property. They needed a bright idea. Big time.
They Knew He Had a Hit When the Turkey Burned
As Niklas Hed, the cofounder of Rovio put it, “We thought we would need to do 10 to 15 titles until we got the right one.” Then one afternoon in downtown Helsinki, Jaakko Iisalo, a games designer who had been at Rovio since 2006, showed the board of execs a screenshot. He had pitched hundreds of ideas in the two months before. This idea showed a cartoon flock of angry-looking birds. “People saw this picture and it was just magical,” says Niklas. Eight months and thousands of changes later, after nearly abandoning the project, they finalized the Angry Birds game. But it took a special event for Niklas to realize they really might have a hit. That event came when, one night, Niklas witnessed his mother overcook a Christmas turkey dinner, as she was distracted by playing the finished Angry Birds game. “She doesn’t play any games,” said Niklas. “I realized: this is it.”4
The bright idea of a game where the players were angry birds came to Iisalo after hundreds of other ideas he had. Perhaps it was a passing thought. Nevertheless, he created a picture of it, showed it to the decision makers and, as Niklas said, “It was magical.” Everyone seemed to know this was it.
As Mr. Hubbard wrote, “. . . the less the resources available the brighter the idea required to attain effective handling.” Rovio was short on resources. They needed a bright idea to pull them out of the mud, and they got it. Ideas can seem airy and sometimes worthless. They are easily invalidated. That’s why it’s important to remember that the bright idea, when properly recognized and acted upon, can turn into pure gold.
Almost 1,000 Downloads a Day for the First Six Years
Rovio launched their Angry Birds game app in late 2009. Like any app, Angry Birds started with zero downloads. As of 2015, the app had been downloaded more than 3 billion times.5 That’s almost 1,000 downloads per minute for that six-year period!
Even more impressive, only three years after the launch of Angry Birds, Rovio was offered $2.25 billion for their company.6
Rovio turned the offer down. Apparently the three founders weren’t in it to make just a “quick buck.” Perhaps they felt their company was worth more than a cool $2.25 billion. Or maybe they were having too much fun to fly the coop just then.
As of 2018, Rovio is up to 23 different Angry Birds apps. The 3D Angry Birds major motion picture was released by Sony in 2016; plus there is an ongoing TV series entitled Angry Birds Toons.7 In addition, Rovio currently has a catalog of more than 30,000 Angry Birds–related products on sale in more than 500 locations around the world!
Walt Disney once said: “I only hope that we never lose sight of one thing—that it was all started by a mouse.”8
And did you know that when Walt Disney first had the idea for Mickey Mouse he was rejected by bankers 300 times because they thought the idea was absurd?9
The mouse was Disney’s “bright idea.” The birds were Rovio’s “bright idea.”
Moral of the story? Never underestimate the power of a bright idea. When a handling is needed, put on the thinking caps and come up with enough bright ideas until the brightest of all shines through. source
- Gilbert, David. “Rovio’s ‘Overnight’ Success with Angry Birds Came after 51 Failed Attempts.” Ibtimes.co.uk. IBTimes Co., 1 July 2014.
- “Rovio Entertainment.” Wikipedia.org. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d.
- OfficeChai Team. “After 51 Failed Games, Rovio Created Angry Birds—Now It’s Going Public at a $1 Billion Valuation.” OfficeChai, 15 Sept. 2017.
- Cheshire, Tom. “In Depth: How Rovio Made Angry Birds a Winner (and What’s Next).” Wired.co.uk. Condé Nast, 7 Mar. 2011.
- “Angry Birds.” Wikipedia.org. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d.
- Lynley, Matt. “Here’s How Much the Owners of Angry Birds Are Actually Worth.” Business Insider, 23 Feb. 2012.
- “Angry Birds Toons (TV Series 2013–).” IMDb, n.d.
- “Quote by Walt Disney Company.” Goodreads, n.d.
- Pasha, Riz. “Walt Disney Was Fired & Rejected 300 Times—Failure to Success.” Succeed Feed, 26 Jan. 2018.