Flappy Bird may have stolen Angry Birds’ thunder in the early part of 2014, but the latter’s developer Rovio has revealed its next step: a spin-off called Angry Birds Stella.
Based on the pink bird character previously seen in the Angry Birds Seasons and Angry Birds Go! games, the new sub-brand will be used for games, animation, toys, books and other merchandise, although specific products and release dates have not yet been announced.
Unveiled on its own Tumblr blog, Angry Birds Stella looks like a more female-focused line for Angry Birds – its equivalent of Lego Friends. Rovio’s announcement carefully steers clear of mentioning girls or women specifically, but refers to “inspiration, empowerment and other real issues” as its themes.
“Angry Birds Stella is breaking the mould by introducing strong, passionate characters who really stand for something, while adding plenty of action and reality into the mix,” said Rovio’s chief executive Mikael Hed. “The Angry Birds Stella story will live and evolve across physical and digital, bridging them in fun and innovative ways.”
The new characters are also likely to feature in Rovio’s first Angry Birds film, which the company says will be released on 1 July 2016.
Rovio remains one of the biggest mobile games developers in terms of reach, although its revenues have been eclipsed by firms like Supercell and King, with games like Clash of Clans and Candy Crush Saga making hundreds of millions of dollars from in-app purchases.
Angry Birds Go! was Rovio’s big move into free-to-play gaming, although it has yet to challenge those games in the app store top-grossing charts – at the time of writing, it’s the 137th top grossing iPhone app in the US, for example.
Angry Birds Stella plays into Rovio’s wider strategy of making money from licensed products and other spin-offs, though. Its last two games have been accompanied by ranges of Telepods toys made by Hasbro, while its in-app Angry Birds Toons TV channel passed 1bn views in September 2013, and is now providing distribution for a range of other companies’ TV shows and shortform videos.
45% of Rovio’s €152.2m of revenues in 2012 came from its consumer products division after sales of plush toys and other merchandise more than trebled that year. The company has yet to publish its financial results for 2013.
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