Rovio firar ett år som noterat bolag den 29:e September, ett år som har inneburit en volatil resa på börsen. I bolaget ligger ett av spelindustrins största varumärken genom tiderna: Angry Birds. Apropå födelsedagar så firar just Angry Birds 10 år som varumärke och spel, vilket passande nog följs upp av uppföljaren till spelfilmen och hollywoodsuccén med samma namn som spelen. Vi fick en pratstund med bolagets VD Kati Levoranta där vi naturligvis pratar mycket Angry Birds.
Vill du läsa mer om Rovio hittar du bolaget i vår aktieguide här:
In 2018, you passed the 6 year mark as an employee of Rovio. Can you tell us how it all started and how you managed to all the way climb to the top of the company?
– Yes, my journey at Rovio started already more than six years ago when I joined the company as Chief Legal Officer. In 2015 I was appointed to be in charge of our sales in EMEA region and towards the end of 2015 the Rovio’s Board Of Directors asked me to assume the role of CEO. I felt very honored and gladly answered yes. I started as Rovio CEO in January 2016. Before joining Rovio I worked e.g. for Nokia and Nokia Siemens Networks in Finland and 3 years in Munich, Germany.
As CEO of one of the biggest gaming players in the nordic countries, how is a typical day at work? Has the industry changed a lot since you started working at Rovio?
– The industry has actually evolved and changed a lot during the past 6 years I’ve worked in mobile gaming industry. When I joined Rovio premium games where the ones on top of the charts, however today the Free to Play is clearly the dominating business model. User acquisition and investing in it has become an essential element in growing free-to-play games. You also wish to extend the games lifetime by constant innovation and through introducing regularly new and fresh content in your games. Thus, the ability to run the games as services is very important. Many top games in apps store lists are 3-6 years old. Our best performing game Angry Birds 2 is also more than 3 years old. Strong brands is also a great asset but this has always been the case!
– I don’t think there’s really anything like a “typical day” and that’s what I love about my job, every day is different. What, however is common for more or less for each day, is that I meet lots of different people – both externals and internals. I really enjoy working as a part of the teams.
Your Angry Birds IP is one of the most recognized in the industry. How do you work to maintain the brands success and continue developing it for new players?
– Indeed, Angry Birds brand is very well recognised globally with 97% brand awareness. Angry Birds is turning 10 years in 2019, and during those years we have been able to innovate and grow the Angry Birds to a global entertainment franchise. What started as a mobile game, has become a worldwide phenomenon. With a versatile games portfolio, theme parks, consumer products, animation series and of course the full length movie in 2016, we can offer our fans multiple consumer touchpoints to get them closer to Angry Birds universe. We also stay on pulse on industry trends and keep innovating and renewing our services and products according to those trends. Fans are the most important piece for brand success, and we are very happy to see that our loyal fanbase gets over and over again excited on Angry Birds!
Over time, Angry Birds have branched out into several genres besides games, like theme parks, candy and movies. Can you tell us a bit how this came to happen and how it impacts your business? What can we expect from the upcoming movie?
– Brand licensing business is an important part of Rovio’s business and has proven to be an effective mechanism for bolstering visibility with our core territories across the world. It all started with plush toys and T-shirts in year 2010, when the game soared to the success. We started to produce plush toys, by public demand, which were all sold out before we had time to blink. Since then, the brand has grown stronger and we have gotten more and more fans around the world. We are building an evergreen brand and we want to offer our fans from generations to another many possibilities to experience the real Angry Birds universe.
– We brought Angry Birds from small screen to a big screen in 2016 when we released The first Angry Birds Movie. In the movie, we introduced the whole world of Angry Birds and the Piggies, their habitats and told finally what is the backstory of the birds/piggies conflict. We introduced the next generation of talking birds and pigs in three dimensions with wings, legs and complete personalities. Financially, the movie was also very successful, it was number one in 50 countries out of 88 in the opening weekend and has produced more than $350 million in box office revenues and more in digital downloads, DVDs, streaming and broadcasting. And we are of course hoping that the sequel will be received with same love and enthusiasm. The set up for the sequel differs a lot from the first movie as we have licensed the Angry Birds brand to Sony Columbia Pictures. They are now responsible for production, marketing and distribution of the movie. We are very excited for the second movie!
There has been tons of games based on Angry Birds, but besides those Rovio has had limited success with new releases. Why do you think Rovio, as a game developer, seems to struggle a bit outside the Angry Birds universe?
– The Angry Birds brand has proven its versatility. All started from a slingshot game and has thereafter expanded to puzzle genre as well as RPG (role playing games). Angry Birds is a very unique asset to have and thus, we wish to build it even stronger. However, having said that we do develop games with new IP as well. Will they one day grow to be brands remains to be seen. This industry is all about innovation which is of course very hard to forecast.
With over three years in the app stores, Angry Birds 2 still have good traction. What is the secret sauce here? How do you work to keep your titles attractive to players year after year?
– Angry Birds 2 is a great demonstration how well our Games as a Service strategy is working. Angry Birds 2 had its best quarter ever in Q2 2018. It’s actually a very different game today than the one initially launched in 2015. Several changes in its gameplay have been implemented to follow the trends in F2P industry, and the Angry Birds 2 team has been very innovative with coming up with new content they are offering for the players. We of course hope our fans will keep liking the new updates the team has in store for the them.
For some time you have been developing a new way of playing games, Hatch. An app were the user pays a monthly fee and get rid of the rest in-app purchases and gets access to 100’s of games. How did you come up with the idea around Hatch and how is project progressing?
– Rovio has always been keen to innovate and try new things, new technologies and in some of them, we have made investments. The idea of Hatch was originally born within Rovio but since it is a platform and not a content play, we decided to spin it off for this mission. Hatch accommodates premium games with no IAPs and the business model is ads and later subscription. Hatch is available on beta in 18 European countries in Android and it is being developed further as we speak.
In previous reports, you lowered your guidance for 2018 and pointed at tougher market conditions for user acquisitions, with significant higher prices per user. Can you elaborate on this market change? Is it a wide market trend or genre specific etc?
– It is getting more difficult to acquire users in an industry as competition is tough and it is getting tougher. Major events such as the World Cup, holidays seasons and regional events tend to drive the cost per install higher. User acquisition costs are based on complex auctioning models and they vary greatly by game genre.
To sum up, why do you think our readers should invest in Rovio?
– Rovio has a wide, versatile and high quality games portfolio which offers games for different target groups. Behind these games are our talented people. User acquisition is a key element in free to play world and we have proven skills as well as financial resources to run that efficiently at Rovio. We have also effective cross promotion capability thanks to our wide games portfolio. And on top of everything is our Angry Birds brand with a brand recognition of 97% globally. We license the brand for activities and entertainment outside the mobile games – this is a revenue generating business as well but also brings great visibility for and enhances the emotional connection to our Angry Birds brand.
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