Angry Birds Maker Rovio Will Now Publish And Market Select Third-Party Games

Rovio Entertainment, maker of the popular line of “Angry Birds” games, announced today that its expanding its business to include third-party titles, which it will publish, distribute and market to consumers. The new program is being called “Rovio Stars,” and makes available the company’s expertise as well as its marketing teams to other publishers. The first title to be released under the new effort is “Icebreaker: A Viking Voyage,” by Nitrome Ltd.

The Icebreaker game, which follows the adventures of a lone Viking, will be followed by medieval adventure and puzzle game “Tiny Thief,” made by 5 Ants.

This is the first time Rovio has included third-party titles in its lineup, the company announced this morning via a blog post and press release.

“We want to help the developers to give these games that last coat of polish, publish the games and find their audience,” said Rovio’s Director of Development Kalle Kaivola. “We’re focusing on a small, select number of games, and each Rovio Stars launch will be an event of its own.”

That “last coat of polish” means Rovio will actually assist its partners in finalizing game production and with post-production, the company explains. Rovio notes that it’s looking for titles in “an advanced stage of production” – that is, in either alpha or playable format.

Rovio’s experts will specifically help to mentor developers in order to “turn their games into blockbusters,” as well as market them, provide PR, and help publishers distribute titles to all the relevant app stores.

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Developers can now apply for consideration as one of Rovio’s next picks on the Rovio Stars dedicated website, where the company provides a submission form. Interested parties can attach screenshots and/or video alongside a description of their game. For now, only mobile titles are being considered. Expecting a high volume of submission, the company says it can’t promise that everyone will receive a response.

Rovio has long since moved beyond being only a games publisher, and is now more of media company offering cartoons, toys, and other merchandise like t-shirts, books, and even soda. It has debuted an “Angry Birds Space Encounter” at the Kennedy Space Center, and Angry Birds-themed parks. It also recently partnered with Dreamworks to release “The Croods,” a game based on the animated film.

These expansions have been working well for the company so far. In April, Rovio announced its 2012 sales were up 101 percent to $195 million, and net profit was up to $71 million. 45 percent of Rovio’s revenue now comes from “consumer products,” versus 30 percent the year prior. The company also has 1.7 billion downloads across its properties, and sees hundreds of millions of active users per month.

Details regarding how Rovio Stars will generate revenue – through a revenue share, perhaps, or other fees, were not immediately provided. We’ve reached out to the company for more information and are waiting on a response. (Update to follow).

Update: Per Rovio, the projects will be chosen depending on their individual merits, and right now the company is planning on publishing a select few games per year under Rovio Stars. As for other considerations, Rovio’s level of involvement in the project depends on what makes sense in the given situation. As for the marketing and polish, it can mean different things for different projects. Just to give an example, Rovio can help with the game’s QA process. As for marketing, Rovio has a wide and dedicated fan base around the world, strong on-line presence and a reputation for publishing polished, quality games. This is certainly a great asset for an independent game developer.