Speaking exclusively to Penn Olson today in Jakarta, Peter Vesterbacka, the ‘Mighty Eagle’ of Rovio, and Henri Holm, the SVP of Rovio Asia, shared the company’s plan to release Angry Birds to more than 800 million people on Facebook. And what’s more, the company is planning its big launch to be held in Jakarta on February 14th. Why Jakarta? Well it’s obvious, Peter says, as Jakarta is the global capital of Facebook. Holding the launch here would be appropriate as it is a major Facebook hub.
Angry Birds has become a phenomenon in such a short time, and Rovio has been busy building the brand on top of the already successful game title. Now with over 700 million downloads (on its way to pass 1 billion this year) Rovio is becoming an entertainment company which will make comics, animations (it has acquired an animation company), and even plush toys to complete a full circle of online-offline engagement. With this, Rovio aims to have 1 billion fans instead of just 1 billion downloads.
The Next Billion
While it has been the must-have game on iOS and Android phones or tablets, Rovio wants Angry Birds on every screen. They want it on every possible platform. To make this possible they’ve also worked with Samsung so that Angry Birds will be pre-installed on every new Smart TV and the 2010 and 2011 versions of the TV sets will get an update that will install Angry Birds. Not only that, they are bringing the Angry Birds experience to the next billion by reaching the feature phone market (working together with Nokia on its Asha series). In the near future, Rovio is also working to bring a seamless and connected experience through any platform you play Angry Birds on. For example, if you start playing Angry Birds on your iPad, you can continue your progress on your Samsung TV or on a PC in an internet cafe.
Angry Birds Power-Ups
So what’s so special about bringing Angry Birds to Facebook? Shown for the first time to the world outside their labs, Peter brings us through the Angry Birds experience on Facebook, showing its full screen capability and higher quality animation to maximize your playing experience. Rovio will also introduce new power-ups (e.g. an earthquake; or special, bigger, or stronger birds) which you can buy (for US$0.99) or earn while playing the game. Peter said that Rovio won’t introduce a product unless it’s a great one, and claims that 40 percent of users are actually interested in buying the power-ups, in contrast to just 3 to 4 percent in most other games.
The next feature (and perhaps an obvious one) is social. Angry Birds on Facebook will have leaderboards so people can try to beat each other scores by buying power-ups to earn ‘bragging rights.’ When asked about the payment system in Indonesia, Peter said that rather than moaning about how they can’t make money because of it, they are bringing a solution to that problem.
Rovio also plans to release more games than it did last year (it released the Rio and Seasons variants in 2011) including making a more localized game with local content. Rovio released a Year of the Dragon update to Angry Birds Seasons for the Chinese New Year where it has a new theme, animations, and of course, a swooping dragon as a ‘power-up.’ The team is planning to do something like this in Indonesia, and that’s another part of the reason for the visit here. The forthcoming game will include local content such as Batik, Garuda, or even Komodo so that it has a more local touch filled with Indonesian cultural references. This looks set to be a separate, new Angry Birds game, and not just an update to Seasons.
Rovio also plans to recruit an intern by holding a game developer competition in Indonesia. The winner will earn an internship for a month to get to know how Rovio works – and in return, he or she can make a contribution to this localized version of Angry Birds. Rovio, though, is dismissing rumors that there’s any plan to have an office here – but it will have several local partners for the brand.
Angry Birds for Facebook will be released on February 14, 2012 worldwide, and as we heard from the Mighty Eagle himself, it will be launched in Jakarta. We encourage our readers not to get too carried away playing the game that you forget your normal Valentine’s Day responsibilities. Angry Birds are one thing, but angry girlfriends are a different game altogether.