After its launch in 2009, Angry Birds went on to become one of the biggest success stories in mobile gaming, riding high as the top paid mobile app of all time. But as another ornithologically themed game (Flappy Bird - remember that?) shows, what's über-cool in gaming today can quickly be forgotten tomorrow.
Rovio, the Finnish developers behind the Angry Birds series, is learning that lesson the hard way, as interest in the franchise continues to decline. Its profits have fallen 73% in the last year, on the back of a 9% drop in sales revenue, and weakening sales of Angry Birds merchandise, such as branded t-shirts and plush toys.
As Reuters reports, the company is now 'pinning its hopes' on its upcoming Angry Birds 3D movie - first announced in 2012 - to help reverse its decline. But with the gaming series already falling out of favor with many players, who have moved on to newer alternatives, that in itself seems like a bit of a gamble.
Indeed, the success of the movie seems even less certain when you consider that it won't reach cinemas until 2016 - but given how much it will have cost by the time it premieres next year, Rovio needs it to succeed.
The company's CEO, Pekka Rantala, said that production costs alone will hit $80 million, while marketing costs - some of which will be covered by Sony Entertainment - will total at least another $80 million, if not more. Given that Rovio has put so many of its eggs in the Angry Birds basket, it can ill afford to see its movie project flop at the box office.
Rantala claimed that "the upcoming Angry Birds Feature Film is getting very positive reactions from major retail and license partners as well as from consumer focus groups."
But Steve Bailey, games analyst at IHS Technology, pointed out today: "As [Angry Birds] begins to falter, the question of whether it is a one-hit wonder rears up again." And with the movie still well over a year away, the waning interest in the gaming series is clearly a concern.
Bailey added: "The performance of the movie will be very telling about where the franchise can go next and how much life is left in it."
For a firm that relies so heavily on one property - Rovio's homepage, for example, is furnished with absolutely nothing but Angry Birds - the success of the movie may well have a major impact not just on the future of the franchise, but of the company itself.
Source: Reuters | Top image via Rovio