”Angry Birds as a huge entertainment platform” – Peter Vesterbacka

Sarah Lacy interviewed Peter Vestarbacka (aka the Mighty Eagle) from Rovio, the creators of Angry Birds on stage. This was my favourite session from day 1 of NEXT11.

Not so many know that Rovio have been around for about 10 year and that they’ve built over 50 games during these years. Right before Angry Birds they built a few games to Nokia with hundreds of millions of downloads.

He also told us that building Angry Birds was a really analytical process. They didn’t build a hugely successful game only by trying but by analyzing the app store, the games that was popular there and which mechanisms that seems to be a winning tactic. The initial idea that later became Angry Birds was another game with an angry bird that one of their game designers came up with. They later decided that the game idea itself wasn’t so sticky but they liked the bird with the angry eyebrows, so they built the whole concept and game around that.

A few other key points from the interview:

  • Touch devices have made the game market a lot bigger. Before, in the era of Nintendo and Playstation, there where to many buttons to learn and use. With touch everyone can play which has been a boost for the whole game market.
  • It’s a good thing to try different kind of business models. “Don’t be so religious about it”. With Angry Birds they both sell the games, have in-app purchases, a free demo and ads.
  • Rovio doesn’t trying to build another “blockbuster” game. Instead, they’ll do everything they can do make the Angry Birds concept even bigger with merchandising, movies and release the game to more devices. Basically ”Angry Birds as a huge entertainment platform”.

They also talked about why Scandinavians are so successful and creative.

  • In Finland, there are only 5 million people. There are too few to not educate everyone properly and great.
  • Scandinavian kids are actually kids. They have the possibility and the free time of doing whatever they want until their 7 years old. It’s definitely great to not put kids in school too early and overall, the Scandinavian school doesn’t have too much of homework either. This creates a very childish and creative mind.

He also said that he thinks that here in Europe, “we need to do our own thing, not just copy the valley” about the startup climate. Another point he made was that there are a lot of buzz around building products right now but he really thinks it’s important to not forget the business model.

When Sarah Lacy asked Peter Vesterbacka about Spotify, he said that “he doesn’t want to swap businesses” with them because of the big, hard and conservative music industry. But also because Angry Birds owns their own content, can do it how they like and “do whatever we want”. Spotify is in a much harder space and with content they licensing.

Related: interview + more info by Sarah Lacy

(This is notes from a talk I listened to at the #NEXT11 Conference in Berlin that I visited as official blogger)