Rovio slingshots first Angry Birds store into China

Shortly after confronting a Chinese theme park over an unauthorized Angry Birds attraction, Rovio announces its first retail stores in China.

CNET/Rovio

As if stretching a mighty slingshot from Finland aimed at the heart of Beijing, Rovio says it will open its first Angry Birds retails stores in China this year.

Speaking at the TechCunch Disrupt conference in Beijing this week, Rovio Chief Marketing Officer Peter Vesterbacka laid out plans to bring the company's own merchandise outlets to multiple spots within China, its fastest-growing market, in hopes of generating more than $100 million in revenue there next year.

There are no details yet on exactly where or when these stores will open their doors, but the shops will sell Angry Birds tie-ins such as stuffed animals, toys, T-shirts, smartphone cases, shoes, and other merchandise that the billion dollar Rovio claims accounts for about 10 to 20 percent of its business, according to Bloomberg.

It seems like a "can't beat 'em, join 'em" move for Rovio, particularly since Vesterbacka claimed Angry Birds is one of the most knocked-off franchises in a country awash in copied merchandise. The game studio is already trying to cut a deal with a Chinese amusement park that opened an unauthorized Angry Birds-themed attraction earlier this year. Rather than pursue legal action against the Window of the World in Changsha, China, Rovio offered to work out some sort of licensing agreement.

There's no published word yet on how the theme park deal played out, but Rovio appears to be being proactive here. Rather than let the Chinese rip-off artists operate in a business and legal climate too slow to clamp down on copied goods, Rovio will get its beak wet right alongside the fakery with its real-deal merchandise. It can only hope a very American phenomena of snob appeal settles in and gives the genuine-article products a little more juice on the fast streets of Shanghai.

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