The mobile game development community has been taking some shots lately, mostly from Nintendo. It was at Nintendo’s GDC keynote that CEO Satoru Iwata said that ‘garage developers’ and ‘hobbyists’ were taking away from triple-A titles. Specifically, Nintendo feels that the business model of ‘Smartphone games’ is destroying the value of games. This didn’t sit well with Rovio’s business and franchise development manager, Peter Vesterbacka.
Rovio is the development house behind the phenomenon that is Angry Birds. When people criticize mobile gaming, most point the finger at Rovio. Vesterbacka recently defended mobile games, firing a few shots at Nintendo along the way.
“It’s interesting to see people like Nintendo saying smartphones are destroying the games industry. Of course, if I was trying to sell a $49 piece of plastic to people then yes, I’d be worried too…I think it’s a good sign that people are concerned — because from my point of view we’re doing something right.”
Rovio has done a lot right, with over 100 million downloads, the release of a movie tie-in sequel, and plans to bring the Angry Birds brand to nearly every console platform by year’s end. Vesterbacka doesn’t sound like someone who’s afraid of ruffling feathers. He made headlines at South by Southwest this year by suggesting that console games are dying and that innovation was in the mobile and social space. He’s since backed off those statements a bit, but still doesn’t feel the need to cower to the console industry.
“The console market is important, but it’s also… It’s not dying, but not the fastest growing platform out there. So we don’t see it the way others do…A lot of people in the games industry, they think the ‘real’ games are on consoles…But we don’t have that inferiority complex.”
Like them or not, mobile games are here to stay and so is Rovio. The company recently finalized a round of $42 million in venture capital investments and is seeing new players download their game every day. The question now is lasting potential: can Rovio create more games that capture the public like Angry Birds has?
Angry Birds is currently available for iOS, Android, PlayStation 3, PC and Mac. A version for Xbox 360 will be available before year’s end.
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