Angry Birds maker's earnings fall while games rise

Despite lower earnings, Rovio is still one of the most popular mobile-game companies in the world, tallying almost 600 million game downloads in 2014.

Don Reisinger
CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger
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Rovio's Angry Birds franchise is still going strong, but sales of related consumer products are down. Rovio

Rovio, the mobile-gaming company best known for developing the Angry Birds franchise, had a rough 2014. But don't blame it on the games.

The Finland-based company posted earnings before interest and taxes of just 10 million euros (about $10.7 million) in 2014, down significantly from the 36.5 million euros the company generated in 2013. Revenue tumbled from 173.5 million euros in 2013 to 158.3 million euros in 2014.

The company shot to prominence in 2009 with the release of Angry Birds app for mobile devices. The game, which is still one of the most popular in the mobile world, allows gamers to slingshot birds at pigs, tearing down structures along the way. The Angry Birds success prompted Rovio to double down on the franchise, launching Angry Birds Seasons in 2010; Angry Birds Rio in 2011; Angry Birds Space, Angry Birds Star Wars and Bad Piggies in 2012; Angry Birds Friends, Angry Birds Star Wars II and Angry Birds Go in 2013; and Angry Birds Epic, Angry Birds Stella and Angry Birds Transformers in 2014.

Rovio also started to sell a wide range of goods, including plush toys, soft drinks and candy. The company even started its own cartoon channel and a film studio.

The Angry Birds maker's rough 2014 was due in large part to its heavy focus on consumer goods. According to Rovio, revenue in its "consumer products" category fell from 73.1 million euros in 2013 to 41.4 million in 2014. The company's games division remained strong, raking in 110.7 million euros in 2014 compared with 95.2 million in 2013. Rovio generated nearly 600 million game downloads worldwide in 2014.

Angry Birds is not Rovio's only game, but it is the most successful one by far.

Rovio's tough 2014 was telegraphed by an announcement of massive layoffs. Rovio said in December it would lay off 110 employees out of its global workforce of 800 people and shutter a game development studio in Tampere, Finland, as part of a reorganization.

Looking ahead, Rovio CEO Pekka Rantala said in a statement Thursday that he feels "very good" about his company's upcoming game road map, which includes the company's first title developed specifically for Japan, called Angry Birds Fight.

Rantala is hoping for big things from the company's next major project: the Angry Birds feature film. According to the company, the computer-animated action comedy, which is being distributed by Columbia Pictures, is set for a global premiere in May 2016, and will star Jason Sudeikis, Josh Gad and Peter Dinklage.

Rovio did not immediately respond to CNET's request for comment.