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Angry Birds to angry words: Rovio flings 14% of its staff out the door

Dev studio axed in games biz shakeup

Troubled Finnish gaming studio Rovio has sacked 110 staff, almost 14 per cent of its workforce, but is claiming success as it had planned to dump 130 people.

"Rovio estimates that its workforce will be reduced by approximately 110 employees. As part of its reorganization, several positions have been opened for internal applicants. The final number of employees impacted depends on how many of these new positions are filled," the company said in a statement.

As part of the changes the firm is shutting down its games studio in the Finnish city of Tampere, although some staff will be retained and moved to the corporate headquarters in Espoo. Rovio employs about 800 people.

It has been a rough year for Rovio as the company comes to the realization that one game franchise about flinging fowl does not a successful firm make. Profits have fallen by around 50 per cent in the past year and the family-owned biz fired its CEO in August over poor performance. In 2013, it recorded a net income of €26.9m ($33m) off sales of €156m (up €4m on the previous year).

The Angry Birds franchise is still very popular and Rovio has proved expert at wringing every cent out of the idea with a series of spinoffs and toys. Since the game's inception in 2009, there have been ten followup titles, some with big money sponsorship.

But Rovio is still very much a one-trick pony – take away the ballistic birds and the gaming studio has had no other hits and produced a lot of dross. There's a reason why no one is raving about Tiny Thief, The Croods, or Amazing Alex – they aren't particularly good.

There's still life in the company yet, and it's making millions from its hit franchise. But, as Zynga and King Digital are finding out, building a sustainable gaming business is a very tricky job. ®


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