Angry Birds descend on London

0204b1c0e42878a13d3222610b989234Finnish mobile games and animation company Rovio , which is known for its Angry Birds game, is stepping up its hunt for new hit games by opening a studio in London.

The big idea is to focus on multiplayer games that would not rely on the company’s Angry Birds brand.

Privately-held Rovio has struggled in recent years as profits from the Angry Birds franchise dropped, prompting deep job cuts and divestments.

Last year Rovio launched an animated Angry Birds 3D Hollywood film that it said did well at the box office and yielded new licensing deals.

Rovio wants to build a team of about 20 people in London to create “massively multiplayer online” (MMO) games that support shedloads of players simultaneously, with a focus on new characters.

Wilhelm Taht, head of games said that “MMO is a genre that is growing in mobile, but it is not fully saturated. We are not looking for a niche position but a very wide, inclusive game.”

The original Angry Birds game, in which players use a slingshot to attack pigs who steal the birds’ eggs, was launched in 2009 and it remains the top paid mobile app of all time.

Rovio exploited the brand early on by licensing its use on a string of consumer products. But the company’s failure to bring out new hit games resulted in falling profit, prompting Rovio to cut more than 300 jobs in 2014 and 2015.

“In the long term, our new characters may generate intellectual property and even a brand,” Taht said.

Rovio has a series of smartphone games based on Angry Birds characters. In 2015 it published a puzzle game called Nibblers and it will soon put out Battle Bay, a real-time multiplayer game.

He added that that Nintendo’s hit smartphone game Pokemon GO, put augmented reality (AR) on the gaming map and his outfit would be looking into AR as a technology and a tool.

Rovio has around 200 employees spread between its four game studios in Finland and Sweden and about 400 in total.