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“Angry Birds” Developer Rovio Branching Out To Young Adult Novels

Despite challenges, Rovio continues to expand its business horizons.

Rovio, developer of the Angry Birds franchise, is swapping egg-pinching pigs for teen angst with its latest venture: a series of pirate-themed novels that the Finnish company will publish by early next year.

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Rovio describes the Storm Sisters series as a “high action pirate adventure with a female twist,” as it follows a gang of girls, whose ages range from 11 to 17 years old, disguised as pirates in the closing days of the 1700s.

“After the tragic events of what has become known as the Day of Destruction–a day when they were intended to die along with their families–Charlie, Sadie, Liu, Raquel and Ingela sail the high seas all alone,” Rovio’s dedicated mini site for the series reads. “In the 1780s, in a world filled with pirates, hurricanes and disbelievers, that’s not an easy task. What’s more important: Survival or truth?”

The concept of the series was composed internally by Rovio, and written by Mintie Das. Rovio has already sold rights to the book in four countries.

Although Storm Sisters isn’t the first crack Rovio has taken at publishing–there are also Angry Birds comics, for example–it represents yet another step the company has taken to become a media empire, rather than just another one-hit game developer. (Think Walt Disney and everything Mickey and Friends became).

“[Rovio’s] menagerie of merchandise—plush toys, clothing, candy, and so forth— helps to keep its apps at the top of the charts, and the apps, in turn, sell the goods,” Fast Company wrote in 2013, when the developer was profiled as one of the world’s Most Innovative Companies. “Up next are a cartoon series, a 3-D-animated movie, and playgrounds around the globe.”

In a telephone conversation with Fast Company, Laura Nevanlinna, publishing director at Rovio Books, said that the company is focused on Storm Sisters as a book series, but wouldn’t rule out future adaptations–such as mobile games or cartoons.

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“For now we’re looking at it as a series of great novels–but of course, being Rovio, we have the ability to talk to our fantastic colleagues in other businesses,” Nevanlinna says. “We’re definitely not striking out any opportunities, although for now we are launching this as a publishing effort.”

The first book in the series, however–titled The Sinking World–will be shopped around next month at Books at Berlinale, an event designed to sell books to film companies for movie adaptations.

For Rovio, publishing the Storm Sisters series can also be viewed as an attempt to find another bankable intellectual property after a rough period for the company, which has struggled to develop another franchise that can match the success of Angry Birds. Late last year, CEO Mikael Hed announced 130 job losses at Rovio after the company’s net profits halved in 2013. Hed was replaced as CEO in January this year, although he remains on Rovio’s board and as chairman of Rovio Animation.

[via The Guardian]

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