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Rovio: Piracy can generate business

CEO says creators must start treating their customers as "fans"

Rovio CEO Mikael Hed told attendees of the Midem Conference in Cannes that the "problem" of piracy is all a matter of perspective, The Guardian reports.

Hed explained that Rovio's apps and consumer products suffer from piracy, particularly in Asian markets. However, he believes it is "futile" to pursue the perpetrators through the courts unless their merchandise is damaging the brand.

"Piracy may not be a bad thing," he said. "It can get us more business at the end of the day."

This, Hed claimed, is the lesson that the global entertainment industry can learn from "the rather terrible ways" the music business attempted to combat piracy.

"We took something from the music industry, which was to stop treating the customers as users, and start treating them as fans. We do that today: we talk about how many fans we have."

"If we lose that fanbase, our business is done, but if we can grow that fanbase, our business will grow."

The discussion surrounding piracy in the games industry intensified around the now-shelved SOPA and PIPA legislation, yet while the scale of the problem is clear the best way to address the situation is still open to debate.

Rovio is not alone in identifying an opportunistic silver-lining in piracy. Speaking to at the Unite 2011 conference, Unity Technologies' John Goodale described how piracy of the company's engine helped seed its business in China - now one of its key territories.

Elsewhere in his presentation, Rovio's Hed also explained that the phenomenal popularity of Angry Birds has allowed the company to start regarding it as a "channel," with many users spending as much time in the app as they do watching popular TV shows.

"We have some discussions with [music] labels about what we could do together to give access," he said. "It is possible to promote music content through our apps as well... We are positively looking for new partnerships, and we have a rather big team working on partnerships, so it's just a case of getting in touch with us and we'll take it from there."

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Matthew Handrahan avatar
Matthew Handrahan: Matthew Handrahan joined GamesIndustry in 2011, bringing long-form feature-writing experience to the team as well as a deep understanding of the video game development business. He previously spent more than five years at award-winning magazine gamesTM.
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