By now, just about everyone is familiar with Angry Birds, a game about slinging round birds at round pigs in ramshackle houses. It’s the most popular paid mobile app of all time. The game debuted in December of 2009 on iOS and took mobile gaming by storm. But for Rovio, the game’s publisher, the real cash cow was licensing.
Angry Birds shirts and toys seemed obvious enough, and there were comics and books and everything else imaginable. Eventually they started crossing the birds with other properties, like Star Wars, and you could fling round, angry little Luke Skywalkers at round little Darth Vaders.
Unfortunately for Rovio, licensing has dropped off, and in 2014 they suffered a 73% loss in profits because of that. This resulted in a loss of 110 jobs, about 14% of their workforce. They might be in luck, though, as they’ve just signed a deal with LEGO, who will be producing Angry Birds LEGO sets, which should debut in 2016, right about the time the Angry Birds feature length film comes out.
LEGO has been producing licensed sets for years now, ranging from Harry Potter to Star Wars to Minecraft, so the move is a sound one. Those LEGO sets have met with mixed reception–some people feel that they remove the creativity from the product. But they do make money, and that’s likely much higher on Rovio’s list of priorities.
The movie has some reasonably famous actors attached to it, like Peter Dinklage, Maya Rudolph, and Keegan-Michael Key, and while those names probably won’t mean much to the average child, they should appeal to the property’s older fans. The film is likely to spawn a whole new range of licensed products and probably some new video games as well, which Rovio has been struggling to produce. They haven’t made another title nearly as popular as Angry Birds, but at this point, it unlikely that anyone else will, either.