After announcing in August that it would cut up to 260 jobs, Rovio — maker of the Angry Birds games — today released details of the final number: the Finland-based company is letting go of 213 employees, around 25% of staff, as it continues to restructure and cut away unprofitable parts of its business. The whole of the company is being affected, with the exception of those working on the production of The Angry Birds Movie in the U.S. and Canada.
Part of the layoffs will entail a restructuring. Rovio will now focus its efforts around three areas only: games, media and consumer products. A spokesperson confirms that this will include Rovio pulling out of directly running e-learning, while book publishing will continue as a business that it will do itself and through partners.
So, too, will the company downsize its attractions business, which focused around building educational playgrounds and more purely entertaining theme parks. She said that places that are already built, such as enterprises in China, will remain open but there are no plans to continue building more.
Some of the shuttered assets may be combined in a new startup. “We are discontinuing the learning businesses within Rovio,” she said. “A spinoff startup company is looking to find funding to continue the business in a company focusing on Angry Birds Playground and digital learning tools.”
It’s a grim turn of events for a company that effectively defined the casual mobile gaming space with Angry Birds. First released in 2009, Angry Birds and its early spinoffs were a runaway hit and spurred the company to position itself as “the next Disney,” developing a bevy of other games, and a number of different products, from books to licensed bird and piggie toys and other merchandise to help grow the bigger brand.
But while Angry Birds remains the most-downloaded game of all time, it doesn’t mean that it’s getting played the most today.
Gaming is fickle, based very much on consumer taste. So as newer games came along from other publishers and the bottom fell out of the core product — long sitting in the top 10 for free games, Angry Birds has been on a steady decline in the U.S. as one sample market and game — the rest of the house of cards fell down, too.
The layoffs are not happening in a bubble: they are part of a longer-term restructuring that Rovio started over a year ago, when one of the company’s founding team, Mikael Hed, stepped down as CEO.
At the time, the company was already feeling the pinch of having expanded its Angry Birds brand too much and too fast and were putting in place new leadership to get the bird to fly again, so to speak.
Financials from 2014 — the company releases annual numbers every February, so these are the most current public figures — indicate minimal growth in its core business, games, to €110.7 million from €95.2 million. That had a knock-on effect also in the company’s consumer products business, which declined by more than €30 million. There were corresponding declines in overall revenues and margins as well:
There are now 670 working for the company. The Angry Birds Movie is due to come out in May 2016, the company says.
Updated with clarification of which divisions are being restructured. Books will remain, to be published both by Rovio as well as with partners. Learning is being shut down but looks like some are trying to revive it as a separately funded startup venture.