Popular iPhone game “Angry Birds” will now have its own toy line and possible movie deal, as it expands to merchandise its brand.
Rovio, the company that created Angry Birds, has been meeting with Hollywood studio executives over the last several weeks to turn the gaming app into a viable entertainment franchise. A line of toys will be coming out, although representatives from the company declined to give specific details.
The Finnish-based game creator has sold more than 6.5 million downloads of Angry Birds, which features a flock of animated birds trying to destroy a group of evil pigs that have stolen their eggs.
The game dominates Apple’s paid app market in about 60 countries, and the iPad version has sold more than 200,000 downloads.
Rovio is looking to parlay its success into a major crossover franchise, aiming for expansion into television shows and movies to toys and comic books. While most companies would develop a slate of different games, Rovio is hoping to extend its success into a brand beyond the mobile games market.
“It doesn’t make sense to produce a slate of different games when you have a hit of any caliber,” said Mikael Hed, Rovio Mobile’s chief executive. “When you create brand equity, to do that again would be a difficult task rather than nurture and build around what you have.”
Rovio has already begun experimenting with the Angry Birds story. An animated YouTube trailer for the game has been viewed more than five million times, and the game maker is now aiming for a television adaptation or a claymation-style feature film.
Several major Hollywood advisors are helping Rovio set up deals, including Peter Levin, a longtime digital media and video game entrepreneur, and Russell Binder, whose Striker Entertainment has set up licensing deals for the immensely successful “Twilight” franchise.
Rovio also recently opened an office in Silicon Valley.
Given the long periods of time required to develop television and film entertainment, Hed understands the challenge in keeping the brand relevant and popular. Rovio will produce sequels and other versions of the Angry Birds game that “expands the universe and the brand,” Hed said.
Rovio plans to launch versions for Android, BlackBerry and Palm smartphones in the coming months. It will also develop Angry Birds for handheld gaming systems like Nintendo’s DS and Sony’s PSP Go, as well as consoles like PlayStation 3.
“There will be a huge concentration of games coming to smart phones,” Hed said. “We hope we can be the first major franchise to come from mobile.”
With more Angry Birds on their way, Rovio hopes to sustain enough momentum to make it to movie multiplexes.