Rovio: from Angry Birds to Happy Bunnies

Interweb baiters were writing off the Angry Birds film as a self-funded expensive folly for a brand past its sell-by-date. But according to Forbes, the movie made $151 million in only a few weeks and is on its way to becoming the biggest video game movie, like, ever. Equally, no one was expecting it to be as commercially packaged and astutely scripted as it was. Compare it to the Ratchet and Clank film languishing at the bottom of the box office for what could've gone wrong.

While Rovio spent the last couple of years shifting revenue in a highly volatile casual gaming market, it was running a long-term plan. At the height of Angry Birds mania, Rovio hired ex-Marvel/Disney producer David Maisel to work on the brand. Consequently, Rovio choose to focus on its core business rather than diversify its portfolio. That meant branding Angry Birds as THE hero product with rolling content to maintain its user base. Gamasutra explained it well in a brilliant strategy update with Rovio returning to games-as-a-service instead of running a multimedia company.

And the best way to service Angry Birds consumers was by going back to free-to-play: supporting itself through a native engagement video, ad revenue model. The format is by far the most successful engagement model: using non-intrusive and opt-in ads, offering video in exchange for items like virtual currencies, gifts or in-game level-ups. That creates an environment where ads are only shown when gamers successfully complete (or fail) a task in-game so they’re happier to engage. Not only are view through rates (VTR) on video ads higher, in-game video engagement rates are higher still.

Of course, the film will certainly bring new gamers and Rovio will also support its biggest franchise with extended licensing and merchandise deals. According to, Rovio is working with Hasbro, Lego and McDonald's on partner deals for toys and exclusive, brand integrated content. That will bring a new generation of gamers to Angry Birds and bring players back to fall in love all over again.