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The only division not affected by the cuts are those working on the upcoming Angry Birds movie
Remember how a few years ago all anyone was talking about was Angry Birds? We all played it. I had at least three versions of the game on my iPhone at one point. The hype has died down considerably since then, and even the successful launch of Angry Birds 2 this summer wasn't enough to put the franchise back into the zeitgeist.
Rovio, the studio behind the game, believes that there is still gas left in that tank, and that the best way to get some more mileage out of it is to refocus. That also means cutting the fat.
Rovio announced on Wednesday that it is cutting 260 jobs out of 670 total employees, a total of nearly 39% of its workforce. The lay offs are happening nearly across the board, with only one division being spared (I will get into that more in a minute).
The idea, Pekka Rantala, who has been CEO of the company for almost exactly one year now, is to make the company leaner and more agile. Or, to put it another way, Rovio's "eagerness to explore new business opportunities over the past few years resulted in the company doing "too many things."
"In our current financial condition we must now put focus on where we are at our best: in creating magnificent gaming experiences, in producing an amazing animation movie and in delighting our fans with great products," said Rantala.
In March, Rovio revealed that its total revenue in 2014 was 158.3 million euros, down 9% year-to-year.
This is the second time in less than a year that Rovio has laid off staff; it previously fired 110 of its employees in October of last year. The company had roughly 800 employees in 2013, so that would mean it has now laid off 370 of those workers, or nearly half its workforce in that time.
These are not the only cuts the studio is planning to make.
"In concentrating our resources on games, consumer products and media (including the forthcoming feature film), we are planning to exit from some non-core businesses and also move to a partner-and-outsource model in other areas," Joseph Knowles, Senior Writer and Communications Manager at Rovio told me.
"At this stage, it is difficult to specify which businesses will be withdrawn from, as the employee consulation process is only just beginning."
You would think that things would be going well right now, as the company released Angry Birds 2 in July and the game was downloaded over 20 million times in its first week alone, and has now been downloaded 50 million times. But it has also been slumping in recent weeks.
While becoming one of the top downloaded apps in its first week, the game quickly fell. According to App Annie, it now ranks at number 40 among all apps in the U.S. To put that into context: the original Angry Birds is still at number 30.
Angry Birds 2 does still remain as the number one puzzle game, though.
The launch of the new game gave Rovio "good momentum this year," Rantala said, while also noting that "fundamental changes are needed to ensure Rovio succeeds in its global ambitions to be the leading entertainment company with mobile games at its heart."
Despite the emphasis on being a leaner company, Rovio is still counting on one big gamble to save it: the long in development Angry Birds movie, which I feel like I've been hearing about for forever.
In fact, the only employees who were spared from the job cuts were those working on the production of the The Angry Birds Movie in the United States and Canada.
The animated movie, which is set to finally come out early next year, will feature the voices of stars like Jason Sudeikis, Josh Gad, Danny McBride, Maya Rudolph, Bill Hader, Kate McKinnon, and Tyrion Lannister himself, Peter Dinklage.
While releasing an Angry Birds movie would have made a lot of sense a couple of years ago, striking while that iron was red hot, now it feels like too little, too late. There's probably been too much time and money poured into the project now to abandon it, but the studio's only hope now is if it can pull off some Lego Movie-like magic.
(Image source: puffleville.wikia.com)
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