An interesting side effect of The Walt Disney Company’s $4.05 billion buyout of George Lucas’ Lucasfilm empire, announced on Tuesday, is that the deal brings Disney closer to Rovio Entertainment, creators of the massively popular Angry Birds franchise.
In one of its last moves as an independent company, Lucasfilm recently licensed its Star Wars characters to Rovio for use in Angry Birds: Star Wars. The mobile game will be released on November 8.
This translates into Rovio having its first game based on a Disney-owned franchise. If it is another huge success, can a Magic Kingdom-themed Angry Birds be far behind? I can just see those bad green piggies airborne on the Dumbo ride.
In the past, I’ve said that Disney should acquire Rovio. It would strengthen Disney’s position in mobile gaming and further enrich its intellectual property stable.
Still, it’s easy to see why Disney has refrained. Rovio hasn’t yet experienced much success outside the Angry Birds universe. Bob Iger won’t pay billions for what is still a one-trick pony.
By working with Rovio through licensed properties, however, Disney will be able to test the waters for a possible future relationship and, of course, capitalize on the popularity of Angry Birds.
Editor: Of course, Disney has been competing directly with Rovio with Swampy and the Where’s my Water Series. Swampy has actually started to grow on me a bit. How about you? Would you rather see Swampy or Angry Birds in the parks?
For more thoughts on the Disney/Lucasfilm deal, see my post on Big Screen Animation.
Update (November 1, 3:45 PM):
In what I believe is a first, Rovio is now mentioning other Disney-owned characters on its Bad Piggies Twitter account:
“Hey, @MuppetsStudio, does Miss Piggy enjoy long walks in the park and poetry? We need to know.”
Coincidence, or will we be playing a Muppets-themed game soon?