Rome wasn’t built in a day, but Angry Birds was such a low priority in the work-flow of Finnish company Rovio that it took a team of four people over eight months to build the game – for a miserly budget of only £70,000.
Little wonder then that competitors of Rovio were a little dismissive of the company’s grand ambition for Angry Bird – a mere 100,000,000 downloads; but when Rovio announced this week that Angry Birds is to make its debut this weekend as a short animated cartoon series, the app had already passed the 1.7bn yardstick.
These new animated shorts will not only be available in-game, but critically from Rovio’s marketing perspective, via TV networks in countries across the world from Australia, Brazil, Germany and India. As well as Rovio’s home market of Finland almost a dozen television networks have agreed to distribute the 52 part animated series.
For any app production house or social gaming company, particularly those with a freemium model where only a small percentage of users will pay to use the product – whether through buying the “full” game or buying in-game power-ups – the rush to land-grab customers is critical. And the biggest barrier to success is often the size of the marketing budget needed to succeed.
But Rovio are clear in their thinking- that having an on-screen presence for Angry Birds means a far wider and more engaged audience than the company would ever find if they took the normal approach to marketing the app.
So does this mean that social gaming which has seen such a meteoric rise online is going to turn back to traditional media in order to capture the big audience it needs to sustain itself? Perhaps. King.com, the leading games site, has started promoting its Bubble Witch Saga title with television advertising in the UK. It’s not beyond the realms of possibility that companies such as King.com will be looking at Rovio’s deal and thinking that many of their own brands could perhaps be packaged up into animated series as well.
Traditionally a television series would lead to spin-off opportunities for merchandising, as Teletubbies, Peppa Pig and countless other kids series have shown. But Rovio are showing us this is actually the wrong way round. It’s the product that comes first, and that television programming simply becomes another marketing channel. This approach was taken by Chorion Group some years ago Noddy – giving the series away for free to selected television networks knowing that the spin-off from DVD and merchandising sales would more than cover the cost of producing the television series.
Apparently an Angry Birds feature film is in the offing as well – though you’re going to have to wait until 2016 to see that.
What you didn’t know about Angry Bird:
#1 Original version launched on iOS December 2009
#2 Angry Birds fanatics include David Cameron, Kylie Minogue, Conan O’Brien, Jon Hamm & Don Draper
#3 Spin-off game “Bad Piggies” was launched in September 2012
#4 There’s an Angry Birds Land theme park in Finland
#5 The “Pig” enemies in Angry Birds were inspired because of Swine Flu
James Barnes, StatusCake.com
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