Rovio Entertainment, the Finnish company behind the popular mobile game Angry Birds, is opening a new game studio in London to focus on developing new massively multiplayer online games (MMOs) beyond the Angry Birds universe. Over the next two years, the company said it aims to build a team of over 20 in its London studio - its first one outside Scandinavia. Rovio has four other in-house studios including three in Espoo, Finland, and one in Stockholm, Sweden.
"Our business is profitably growing and London is the most logical place for us to found a new studio that will complement our overall global mix of internal and external developers," Antti Viitanen, senior vice president of studios at Rovio, said in a statement.
The announcement comes after the company has struggled in recent years as profits from the Angry Birds franchise dropped and competition in the global mobile gaming business continues to become increasingly fierce. As its earnings struggled, the company suffered deep job cuts in 2014 and 2015 and sought to diversify its monetisation strategies.
However, Rovio's Angry Birds Movie that released in May 2016 proved to be a massive success, breaking box office records as the second highest-grossing video game movie of all time after Warcraft. CEO Kari Levoranta told the Wall Street Journal in August that they were planning a sequel to the blockbuster.
"We believe that the best game experiences are those that you share with other people," Mark Sorrell, head of studios at Rovio, said. "So we're starting a studio to do exactly this. We look forward to bringing a diverse team together, unique massively multiplayer online games that are creative, inclusive and delightful."
Launched in 2009, Angry Birds quickly became a global mobile success as the top paid for mobile app of all time and inspiring multiple mobile games based on the beloved characters including Nibblers, Bad Piggies and its upcoming multiplayer title called Battle Bay. Now, Rovio is looking to develop new MMOs that venture beyond the world of Red, Chuck and Bomb.
"MMO is a genre that is growing in mobile, but it is not fully saturated. We are not looking for a niche position but a very wide, inclusive game," Wilhelm Taht, head of games, told Reuters.
Rovio's decision also comes as numerous technology companies have decided to expand and open offices in London despite warnings over Brexit.
Last week, Snap Inc, the parent company of popular vanishing messages app Snapchat, decided to set up its global headquarters in London. Following the referendum, tech giants Facebook, Google and Apple have also announced plans to expand their UK presence over the next few years.
Although Britain's tech sector had voiced opposition against an EU exit prior to the vote, British tech deals hit a record in 2016 and saw a 40% increase in the number of investment rounds and takeovers, the Telegraph reports.
"The breadth and depth of talent in London is incredible," Sorrell told Venture Beat. "Its position as a world cultural [centre] is unquestionable, and we don't see Brexit significantly changing either of those things. We already have premises here thanks to our consumer products team, so it really was the obvious choice."