I’ve been excited about Angry Birds Space since before I even knew about it. It’s like that awful Savage Garden song: “I think I dreamed it into life.” The only thing is that I didn’t dream it into life; Peter Vesterbacka and his amazing team at Rovio did. And after getting a sneak peek at the latest and greatest Angry Birds, I can confidently say that this will be the best version to date.
Vesterbacka has said it before, but he made it very clear again this morning that Angry Birds Space is set to be Rovio’s biggest launch ever. Merchandise, including plush toys that we have sitting here in the office, will be available right on launch day, March 22. Rovio has also created a comprehensive guide to Angry Birds Space in collaboration with The Daily, complete with new character profiles, info on space, and detailed explanations from NASA on the physics of the game.
Speaking of the game, Angry Birds Space is fundamentally different from previous versions when it comes to game play. Since space just so happens to be a zero-gravity environment, the idea of catapulting birds into pig-filled structures doesn’t translate so easily. But that’s kind of the point.
Angry Birds Space uses strategically placed gravity wells and planetary bodies to direct your birds, rather than an even gravitational pull. This paired with new characters and one of the most beautiful Angry Birds settings I’ve ever seen should make for yet another Rovio hit.
Vesterbacka noted that Rovio is much more than a gaming company, it’s a “next-generation entertainment franchise.” And the company is more than a game maker, indeed.
On our way down to the lobby post-interview, the Mighty Eagle mentioned that Rovio is trying to leverage the Chinese market as much as possible. He said the number of copy cat Angry Birds products in China is more flattering than frustrating, and that the company only ever intervenes when a copy cat is hurting the brand. He used the example of a coffee cup maker using lead to build the Angry Birds-style mug.
“I think [people in China] see that we understand the counterfeiting culture of the country and appreciate that we want to be a part of it, and in turn, they’d rather buy our products than the knockoffs,” said Vesterbacka. Rovio plans on having at least 200 retail locations up and running in China by the end of this year/early next year.
Speaking of yearly goals, Rovio will have four more Angry Birds titles (not including Angry Birds Space) available on iOS and Android by the end of 2012. That’s one helluva busy year, if you ask me.
Rovio’s been staffing up as of late, growing from 50 employees to a current 200 Rovio workers. The office in Beijing should also be growing from a handful to around 50 in the coming months, and Vesterbacka said he’s definitely interested in scooping up some of those copycat product designers.
Long story short, Rovio isn’t going to fizzle out anytime soon.
“We always try to surprise and really delight our fans,” said Vesterbacka. “What you can expect from us is the unexpected.”
(Editors’ Note: This is an updated version of an earlier video, which we are just re-publishing now. So if you saw this post before and are wondering why it’s here again, you’re not going crazy. Our apologies.)