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Deep job cuts planned as Rovio resets course

Owen S. Good is a longtime veteran of video games writing, well known for his coverage of sports and racing games.

Rovio, the maker of Angry Birds, plans to terminate as many as 260 employees in a restructuring that gets the studio back to its core businesses after a period in which it "did too many things," according to its CEO.

"In our current financial condition, we must now put focus on where we are at our best," Pekka Rantala, the Rovio CEO, said in a statement. That means concentrating on making hits like Angry Birds, as well as finishing out an animated movie based on the series.

The job losses will be felt company-wide Rantala said, except for those who are working in the U.S. and Canada on The Angry Birds Movie. Rovio is based in Finland.

"This is personally a difficult decision," Rantala said. "However, it is certain that a leaner and more agile Rovio is absolutely necessary to move forward and take the company to new successes in the future."

Though Rantala touted the 50 million downloads of the free-to-play Angry Birds 2, which launched at the end of July, the company has been unable to recover from a disastrous 2014, which saw a 73 percent drop in profit despite a 16 percent increase in revenue from its bread-and-butter mobile games business. The company's licensing business was mainly blamed for the bad news.

In October, Rovio declared a similar reorganization and refocusing of its efforts, costing 110 employees their jobs. The layoffs amounted to 16 percent of its workforce then. The new round of job cuts would be as much as 40 percent of Rovio's current workforce.

Since 2014, Rovio has launched six Angry Birds games, including Angry Birds Fight!, a match-3 game, Angry Birds Stella Pop!, a tile-matching game, and Angry Birds Transformers, a side-scrolling shooter based on the toy franchise.

The Angry Birds Movie is scheduled to premiere in May 2016. Rovio is collaborating with Sony Pictures on the feature, which is expected to help the studio rebound in its licensing division.