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Rovio's new publishing arm LVL11 is a 'magical place' for experimental games

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Rovio established a new publishing arm, LVL11, to allow developers to work on more experimental titles far from the realm of Angry Birds according to executive vice president of the company's global games operations Jami Laes.

Speaking with Pocket Gamer, Laes said Rovio doesn't just want to be known for the Angry Birds and Bad Piggies franchises — its developers are hard at work developing new game mechanics, new IPs and other forms of entertainment including web and television cartoons. Laes explained that the company needed a space for its more "out there" and experimental projects, things that "don't necessarily fit the normal thinking that people have of what to expect next from the makers of Angry Birds."

Laes described LVL11 as a "magical place" where developers can prototype ideas for games that are not connected to the Angry Birds series of the Rovio Stars indie publishing lineup. LVL11 will be Rovio's internal vehicle for creating new games in genres that don't necessarily mesh with its popular series and appeal to different audience.

"While we have people making Angry Birds, in the next room there are the guys dreaming completely new things," Laes explained. "Some of those things are so different that we wanted to package that in a different way and come up with a publishing title for it, a publishing label if you will. We decided to call it LVL11."

The Angry Birds franchise won't be connected to LVL11's games — the first of which, announced earlier this week, is the Flappy Bird-inspired plane flyer Retry — although Rovio will use its various networks for cross-promotion.

"It's more like a soft label," Laes explained of the need to create a second publishing arm separate from Rovio Stars. "We just want to make fun, we want to do things differently, and maybe disrupt ourselves, and disrupt the market a bit, so we want to come up with something funny, something to kind of set it out apart from Angry Birds a bit more.

"The Angry Birds brand needs to be cultivated carefully and that might not fit in with the different gameplay categories, or meet up to expectations about the family friendlessness of it," he added of the LVL11 endeavor. "If it's a new IP, and it's under LVL11, yes it's a lot more likely that we could actually go into different gameplay categories that are not accessible through the Angry Birds brand."

Currently Rovio LVL11's Retry is available on iOS in Canada, Finland and Poland and will launch in other territories "soon." The company is also preparing to launch a spin-off of the Angry Birds brand focused on the pink bird Stella.