This morning, Rovio, the Finnish startup behind the ubiquitous mobile game Angry Birds, plans to release Bad Piggies, a physics-based puzzle game that finally pushes the porcine villains out of their wooden and stone fortresses and onto the main stage. As I learned at the company’s offices during a hands-on demo of the game a few weeks ago, Bad Piggies is a far departure from the series that has catapulted Rovio into stardom, in that there is nary a bird or slingshot in the game.
“Angry Birds is more about having fun and breaking things,” says Petri Jarvilehto, executive vice president of games at Rovio, of the app. “With Bad Piggies, we’re going much more into creativity and building.” In the rollicking ride of a game, which today hits iOS, Android, Mac, and PC, players must piece together jury-rigged vehicles from miscellaneous items--boxes, wheels, balloons, propellers, umbrellas, bottles of soda--to help the pigs, who are stranded on a desert island, roll, rocket, and float their way through a hilly course, and ultimately to the eggs that they famously steal at the beginning of the sundry Angry Birds titles. Along the way, the pigs--goofy, squealing, and full of personality--collect power-ups and, potentially, three stars, based on the speed and care with which they get from point A to B.
Boasting a replayable quality similar to Angry Birds, the app is sure to evoke the same obsession among gamers, and the Rovio brand will almost certainly land Bad Piggies at the top of the charts. For Rovio, however, there’s more at stake here than simply creating another number one game--after all, they’ve easily pulled that off with the various iterations of Angry Birds, and even the puzzler Amazing Alex, though it lacked the staying power of its predecessors and has since descended from the upper rungs of the charts. Bad Piggies, rather, is the company’s shot at an entirely new business franchise, and an opportunity to finally debunk critics’ claims that its only goal is to milk the furious fowl for all they’re worth.
“It will take a lot of work, but we need to learn how to nurture our brand and keep it valid,” says Niklas Hed, cofounder of Rovio and first cousin of its CEO, Mikael Hed. “Now, we want to start telling the story from the pigs’ perspective. And they are even more interesting than the birds.”
The coming days will tell if the public finds the pigs as compelling as its creator does.
Check back in the coming weeks for Fast Company’s exclusive look at Rovio’s other fall plans.