Mario, Coke -- Angry Birds? Rovio eyes pop culture pantheon

Game maker Rovio says it will keep making spinoffs of its popular Angry Birds franchise "just like Nintendo and its series of Mario-based games."


Finland-based game maker Rovio is looking to Japan-based Nintendo for its inspiration in the gaming market, the company's chief marketing officer told The New York Times in an interview published Wednesday.

Speaking to the Times, Rovio's Peter Vesterbacka said that his company's plans revolve around Angry Birds spinoffs and finding ways to leverage that brand to branch out into other areas. It's a model, he says, Rovio learned from Nintendo.

"It's just like Nintendo and its series of Mario-based games. We want to continue expanding Angry Birds to make it a permanent part of popular culture," Vesterbacka said.

Although Rovio has been competing in the game business for only four years, the company has already made a splash. Angry Birds is the world's most popular mobile game franchise and it has quickly migrated into other areas, including game consoles, plush toys, and more recently, education. Vesterbacka pointed, for instance, to the work his company is doing with the European Organization for Nuclear Research, aka CERN, on "a quantum physics book for kids." The book will have an Angry Birds theme throughout.

Despite Rovio's hope of becoming the Nintendo of this generation, the company also looks to major companies outside the digital arena, like Coca-Cola, for inspiration -- and perhaps huge ambitions.

"If Coke can reach one billion servings each day, there's no reason why we can be less ambitious," Vesterbacka said. "With the growth of connected devices like smartphones and tablets, we want one billion people to be interacting with our brand through games, soft drinks, parks and other products."

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by Iyaz Akhtar