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?
A thought I had last night… Now that Kathleen Kennedy is essentially working for Disney… we’re now 1 step closer to getting Roger Rabbit (and friends) back into the fold (or at least back into the Parks, etc.).
She’s 1/3 of Amblin, the other controlling interest in Roger, correct?
Just a random thought… but still…
that is interesting, but I doubt their prime motivator was to spend $4b to get closer to a game company… personally, I am guessing they (a) want the $$ Star Wars brings in, and (b) want to expand Star Wars-themed areas of the park. I think if one thing could compete with Harry Potter it would be Star Wars (if done right).
Kaz: Of course it wasn’t their prime motivator. Nowhere even remotely close to that. As I wrote, it’s a “side effect”.
I personally love Wheres My Water, and if I had to chose between the two would rather play that then Angry Birds but it is an interesting development and I can’t wait to see what comes from all this.
They will acquire LucasArts as part of this deal, one of the biggest names in gaming. they don’t need Rovio.
ahhh.. Disney’s master plan all along.. “We’ll go after the small fries like Star Wars and Marvel so we can wrap our hands around the big dog.. ANGRY BIRDS!
Think of the possibilities.. Angry Birds and Where’s My Water? Mashup!?
Currently a two-trick pony. Amazing Alex sold really well and sat at the top of the charts for awhile. Rovio is expanding.
Amazing Alex was a purchase, though, not developed by them…