back to article Angry Birds CEO hops into slingshot, goes 'WEEEEE!'

The CEO of the company behind mobile gaming hit Angry Birds has announced his intention to leave the gaming firm. Rovio Entertainment said that Mikael Hed, long time business leader of the Finnish games firm that made flinging wildfowl a global craze, would be stepping down from the company on New Year's Day. His replacement …

Paris Hilton

Games are more like movies than software business

In terms of how quickly the revenue stream dwindles once the craze is over... Probably best strategy is to short such stocks in the long term.

Paris, coz she can go long on shorty.

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Re: Games are more like movies than software business

...or just take the money and retire on the proceeds. Trouble with the mobile games market is the competition is ridiculous even compared to the console and PC games markets and there are a lot more one hit wonders.

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Re: Games are more like movies than software business

Yes and after they have made 5 sequels people stop going to see them and they go straight to video, which no one buys.

Next we will probably have remakes............ Even worse.

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Someow you knew the wiring was on the wall when they kept coming out with successive versions of the same game with random words tacked onto the end. It seems like a combination of greed and no mid- and long-term strategy (getting more, different games in the pipeline) are doing for the like of Rovio and King.

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Silver badge

As long as it's a family (small) business, they'll be ok. It's the ones the run for IPO that seem to tank quickly and burn a lot of folks. The Hed family can probably all retire now.

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Anonymous Coward

As someone who works in this business I'll just give my thoughts.

I've been working for fairly successful companies making iOS/Android games and apps (though to my knowledge most revenue comes from games, in particular in app purchases).

There are several worrying problems that smartphone game makers face:

1. Zero brand loyalty. Users barely know the makers of gamers, let alone wait to see what their next output is. Ask the average user of Temple Run who made it and they will stare blankly, as though it isn't an important question. This is a big problem if you are trying to build a storng team with a good reputation. Compare this to console games. Pretty much everyone knows Rockstar makes GTA etc.

2. Barrier to entry is so low. There are two standard frameworks used to make smartphone games, Unity3d and Cocos2d. Unity has more or less cornered the market. It also gives away a free version to developers (not a trial version) with somewhat limited functionality, but in no way makes making a successful game impossible for small teams with not much capital. This is a major headache as nobody knows where the next big game is going to come from. Which leads to my next point.

3. Nobody knows what they're doing. Over the past 4 years I've worked on several smartphone games (as a programmer) and am keenly aware that the industry is riddled with overoptimistic expectations. Spend a few thousand dollars on a game (very easy to do considering buying assets and models, Unity licenses etc), and expect to make that back in the first month? Don't hold your breath. Management have very little idea how to do any kind of costing or expected income. Usually estimates are wildly off base. Some hapless managers cling to weird KPI's, like Daily Average Users as though that means anything. Who cares if the DAU is not too bad if NOBODY is spending even one cent on in app products? There is a lot of insanity in this industry. (Incidentally I remember someone at work scoffing at Riot Games League of Legends game for having such a low ARPU (average revenue per user). Completely ignoring the fact that they make megabucks. ARPU is a crappy indicator, only useful if your game is scraping by.

Next, producers and game designers do not know what the ingredients for a successful game are. They claim they do, they claim if we do X,Y,Z then the game will be popular. But it's just guesswork, usually copying and tweaking games that are already popular, but have been popular for at least a year, so I see it as unlikely anyone will want a rehashing of that game. Possible but unlikely. Which leads to my next point.

4. Everyone copies everyone. This is the most depressing point. Since nobody knows what sells, nobody wants to take much of a chance and so the number of game permutations are limited. We pretty much tweak, rehash, relabel and remake each others' games. And once a game reaches the top of the charts, you can be sure all over the world people are trying to copy it as fast as they can.

5. The market is too crowded. Too many games, too many companies. Not enough money being spent.

Having said that, working in these teams is incredibly fun, the programming can be challenging and interesting. I meet a lot of great people, and the glimmer of hope before the release of a game creates a great buzz in the atmosphere. Meetings can be hilarious, everyone is enthusiastic, even after a launch failure.

The industry definitely needs culling, and when that happens perhaps I'll do web development or something, but for now it's just too much fun.

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Anonymous Coward

"As someone who works in this business I'll just give my thoughts"

-You make some really excellent points. Pity there's no way to follow up on this discussion vis a vis a forum....

-I also work in this business, mostly UDK, a little Unity and soon UE4. But I would never try and make mobile games, I just think the market is massively over-saturated, and the Ad-driven model is hopeless for the Indie, or micro-studio.

-I love it when Gartner or some other f*wit org predicts monumental growth in this area, with infinite upswing for mobile or social gaming.... Its like hold on there mate, slow down....

-In fact, I think we've reached a peak in what is a huge bubble ready to burst, and we must find new business models urgently to stave off a looming crisis....

-Perhaps games that promote brands paid for by brands, or games that are heavily educational? I don't know... But whatever it is, we need something on a whole different track from what we have today...

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Hed Case

So the Angry Birds fad is over?

I'm surprised it lasted this long to be honest. Innovation wasn't Rovio's strong point.

Still, they should have plenty of cash stuffed in their mattresses by now.

"As long as it's a family (small) business, they'll be ok."

Rovio has 800 employees IIRC. What the fuck they're all doing, I have no clue...

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Re: Hed Case

> Rovio has 800 employees IIRC. What the fuck they're all doing, I have no clue...

I worked at Rovio for a couple of years, and bailed out about a year ago. I can say that, by that point (with around 650 employees) only 200 were in the dev studios - coders, artists, PMs, QA, level designers, game designers, and so on - and the rest were in marketing, merchandising, various digital services and support units, and of course the large animation that Rovio bought out a few years back.

They've been doing some good stuff with alternative games recently (LVL11 is their in-house brand for non-Angry Birds games, and Rovio Stars is their very small publishing arm which does third-party games like Tiny Thief) but that's still small stuff compared to the principal brand. I'm just waiting and expecting to see the whole kit and kaboodle come tumbling down any day now.

I know they've had a huge turnover of staff, as half the guys I knew a year ago have already left, but the total employee number keeps growing. It's something of a mystery, even to somebody who was there for quite a long time. I'll be watching with interest.

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