Less than half of Rovio's 800 employees are making games

Of the entertainment company's more than 800 employees, less than half of Rovio's staff are game developers, with more focused on building the Angry Birds brand, executive vice president of games Jami Laes told Venture Beat.

"I think less than half are working on games now," Laes said. "But games will always be at the core of Rovio. That's our heritage. The majority of the folks who have come from different industries to work on different areas of our business, they all experienced the game as their first encounter with the brand. When it comes to future franchises, they'll most likely see the light of day from the games department, rather than another area of our business."

Laes explained that after the success of Angry Birds, rather than focus on putting together a second great mobile hit, Rovio decided to build up the franchise. Laes said Angry Birds "resonated so well" with its audience that the company committed to bolstering the brand, bringing it to new platforms and types of products, "rather than purely focusing on being a games developer."

In response to a question on how the company responds to criticism that the Angry Birds franchise is shallow, Laes responded that the way the company is evolving the games' characters proves its depth. Laes called the series' ongoing animosity between the birds and pigs as an "epic duopoly, an epic battle," and additional media like the Angry Birds Toons cartoon shorts help explain that conflict, as well as each bird's function within the game. Laes added that this conflict "adds heart" to the franchise and gives the series' developers a wide field on which to build Angry Birds-related narratives.

"If you think about some other evergreen franchises, it's not like they had so much going for them in the beginning either," Laes said. "You have a character that resonates. You have a world that makes sense and that's interesting. Then you take it from there, peeling away the layers of the onion and telling stories that resonate with the fans and making the world a richer place."

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