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Rovio Entertainment is on fire at the moment (in a good way).
The Finnish company that bought us the game Angry Birds – once the most downloaded mobile game in history – is planning an IPO that could value it at $2 billion.
Of course, the mobile game isn’t their only revenue source. Last year, alongside the sale of a whole range of Angry Birds merchandise, The Angry Birds Movie hit the silver screen, bringing in around $350m. Not bad.
With big money in the bank, the makers of The Angry Birds Movie are making their next move. Coming 2019, it’s The Angry Birds Movie 2.
But will Angry Birds be enough to keep the company afloat in the longer term?
You might not have played Angry Birds since you first tried it (and maybe you’ve never played it), and it’s certainly true that other games like Candy Crush and Clash of Clans have stolen its thunder a little over the years. In fact, interest in Angry Birds appears to have been trending slowly downwards as time goes on.
When we searched for tweeted mentions of Angry Birds using Brandwatch’s UHD, we noticed a similar story. Peaks when big events happen (like the release of The Angry Birds Movie), but a general decline in interest.
With interest in Angry Birds beginning to dwindle, what’s Rovio to do next?
That’s really the question for the market around this I.P.O.: To what extent do we believe the company can exploit its existing intellectual property, and to what extent can it go again and deliver another big hit?
For often such simple pleasures, the gaming market is complicated.
Mobile gaming is perceived as very different to traditional ‘gaming’, on an Xbox or PC (even if, in some cases, they spend the same amount of time and money playing).
While Angry Birds started out by charging a single fee for players to get access and play through the levels, Angry Birds 2 opted for a free-to-play system with in-app purchases. This kind of model differs from the blockbuster games you might buy for your PS4 where you pay a flat fee for the basic game and aren’t generally required to pay more to play the game enjoyably, successfully and, if you’re a big fan, obsessively.
Meanwhile, mobile games tend to be designed for quick play that can be done on the bus or in a waiting room – a round could last just a few seconds – as opposed to the biggest console games which tend to require a lot more attention and lengthier play periods.
While there’s plenty of crossover, the gaming world is colloquially broken into two groups: Hardcore gamers (who play console/PC games) and casuals (who play mobile games like Angry Birds).
If you were a gaming company looking for your next big idea, you might look to the gamer community to try to find out what they’re craving – the trouble is, there are different types of gamer with different expectations.
Using Brandwatch Audiences, we’re able to compare people who tweet about or follow Angry Birds with self-identified gamers. Here are popular bio keywords in both audiences, both similar sizes (660k authors and 670k authors were analyzed, respectively).
As you can see in the bio keywords, there’s some similarity and some difference.
Gamers are into YouTube and gaming channels and Xboxes and PCs. Angry Birds fans have a much more varied taste – they’re into sport, design, formula 1 and movies.
A look at professions shows Angry Birds followers are more likely than the general gaming community to be teachers, while gamers are more likely than Angry Birds fans to be students – which is surprising given that Angry Birds has such a child-friendly interface. They’re fairly different audiences.
Examining gender breakdowns, Angry Birds followers and tweeters are a much more balanced group than gamers – essentially, they’re a bit more representative of the general population.
They know that Angry Birds has the power to appeal to a huge range of people, and given its success they’d do well to go for mass appeal once again. Angry Birds has seen various iterations that address the interests of Angry Birds followers over the years – specifically relating to sport and movies – you can buy ‘Angry Birds Star Wars’ and ‘Angry Birds Go’ (which involves racing Angry Birds in cars) on the App Store. Perhaps it’s time for Rovio Entertainment to take these interests into consideration but build on them without the help of their feathered friends.
They needn’t have to play to an audience that’s growing up – it looks like grown ups are more than happy to fling colorful birds at green pigs on their smartphones – but while Angry Birds might still be a money-maker, they, like everything else, won’t last forever.
If Rovio Entertainment are to go beyond Angry Birds, listening to the casual gaming market and what it’s craving is the way to go. And that’s where social intelligence comes in.
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