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Piracy Isn't Such a Bad Thing, Says Maker of Angry Birds

By - Source: The Guardian | B 53 comments

In many cases, piracy reels in more "fans" -- or potential customers -- which will eventually bring in a profit.

Angry Birds developer Rovio believes that piracy may not be a bad thing after all, and that the media industries can attract new "fans" -- or rather potential paying customers -- by actually embracing those that steal from them. Rovio chief executive Mikael Hed made this revelation during the Midem conference in Cannes on Monday, claiming that fighting pirates is simply "futile."

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

But that doesn't mean Rovio won't stand up for its rights. In some cases, the company will pursue pirates through the courts if the products they are selling are harmful yo the Angry Birds brand, or ripping off its fans. Otherwise, Rovio doesn't plan to take the music industry's route by suing everyone under the sun, even those who are dead and buried.

"We have some issues with piracy, not only in apps, but also especially in the consumer products," Hed told the audience. "There is tons and tons of merchandise out there, especially in Asia, which is not officially licensed products. We could learn a lot from the music industry, and the rather terrible ways the music industry has tried to combat piracy."

Hed said the music industry's actions have changed Rovio's view on consumers. Instead of users, they are now fans -- even those who pirate Rovio's popular Angry Birds apps.

"We took something from the music industry, which was to stop treating the customers as users, and start treating them as fans," he said. "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."

Rovio now considers its Angry Birds apps as "channels" instead of games, as consumers are reportedly spending so much time flinging birds with a slingshot, that the apps are actually competing with the most popular TV shows here in the States in terms of time spent. That said, pirated Rovio apps can still make revenue for the company by channeling additional content to those naughty "fans" much like Zynga did with Lady Gaga and Michael Buble in its Facebook games.

"Already our apps are becoming channels, and we can use that channel to cross-promote – to sell further content," he said. "The content itself has transformed into the channel, and the traditional distribution channels are no longer the kingmakers."

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Top Comments
  • 26 Hide
    sixdegree , February 1, 2012 3:02 AM
    Rovio has a very, very positive view about piracy and how to elegantly solve it. Respect to you, Rovio.
  • 23 Hide
    the_krasno , February 1, 2012 3:15 AM
    That's the way everyone should see piracy. Me? I'm a pirate. Do I purchase games, music and movies? Yes, the ones I liked. How else am I gonna decide whether or not to buy a game that lacks a demo?
    If you go to a car dealership and ask to have a test drive they won't call the cops on you, calling you a thief. Instead, you actually get to have a feel of how it drives, and then make an informed decision.

    Same thing with games, go for a spin and buckle up the credit card. Or erase the whole damn thing and torch it so it doesn't come back to haunt you in case it was horrible.

    Not all pirates are the pillage and burn them type, some of us just want to find a sweet game and then show our gratitude by actually purchasing it.
  • 20 Hide
    cloudberry , February 1, 2012 3:29 AM
    stm1185Because they make their money off advertising. Duh. Their games are nothing, its like a month's worth of work from a small team. If they started spending 8-9 figures to create real games, and rely solely on the money from sales to recoup their investment they would change their opinion overnight.


    I'll give you the benefit of the doubt and assume we're not talking US dollars here.
Other Comments
    Display all 53 comments.
  • 26 Hide
    sixdegree , February 1, 2012 3:02 AM
    Rovio has a very, very positive view about piracy and how to elegantly solve it. Respect to you, Rovio.
  • -4 Hide
    djtronika , February 1, 2012 3:02 AM
    like, yo.
  • -9 Hide
    acadia11 , February 1, 2012 3:02 AM
    A brain.
  • 20 Hide
    stm1185 , February 1, 2012 3:11 AM
    Because they make their money off advertising. Duh. Their games are nothing, its like a month's worth of work from a small team.

    If they started spending 8-9 figures to create real games, and rely solely on the money from sales to recoup their investment they would change their opinion overnight.
  • 23 Hide
    the_krasno , February 1, 2012 3:15 AM
    That's the way everyone should see piracy. Me? I'm a pirate. Do I purchase games, music and movies? Yes, the ones I liked. How else am I gonna decide whether or not to buy a game that lacks a demo?
    If you go to a car dealership and ask to have a test drive they won't call the cops on you, calling you a thief. Instead, you actually get to have a feel of how it drives, and then make an informed decision.

    Same thing with games, go for a spin and buckle up the credit card. Or erase the whole damn thing and torch it so it doesn't come back to haunt you in case it was horrible.

    Not all pirates are the pillage and burn them type, some of us just want to find a sweet game and then show our gratitude by actually purchasing it.
  • 0 Hide
    fb39ca4 , February 1, 2012 3:18 AM
    im gonna go pirate angry birds...
  • 20 Hide
    cloudberry , February 1, 2012 3:29 AM
    stm1185Because they make their money off advertising. Duh. Their games are nothing, its like a month's worth of work from a small team. If they started spending 8-9 figures to create real games, and rely solely on the money from sales to recoup their investment they would change their opinion overnight.


    I'll give you the benefit of the doubt and assume we're not talking US dollars here.
  • 8 Hide
    mrsphex , February 1, 2012 3:44 AM
    Just to point it out, there is a typo in this article. Says yo instead of to.
  • 8 Hide
    bokuden , February 1, 2012 3:55 AM
    Of course they're pro-piracy. They completely ripped off and made millions from Crush the Castle's design.
  • 3 Hide
    Anonymous , February 1, 2012 4:06 AM
    I pirate things that I'm unsure about. I'll use something for a few hours and if I don't like it (like the shitty mouse control in Skyrim)... gone! Glad I didn't waste $60 on something I hate.. On the other hand, I'm glad I spent the $1500 on Visual Studio Ultimate because I like the HUGE feature difference between the Express edition and the retail edition...

    Its an unrestricted demo, in my opinion.
  • -9 Hide
    elcentral , February 1, 2012 4:12 AM
    hehe i remember i got this game on my n8 frue not to leagal terms and i did enjoy it alot, played for 2 hours before i got bored and for a mobile game its alot for me. headed ower to get it on ovi and for some reason its gotten free for my n8 cristmas give away from nokia. im still not sure howe to solve that. and btw nokia i do not forgive fucking up n8 to point of no return only cuss you gave me a few games. me and my friends will not go back to you ewer agen.
  • 10 Hide
    HEXiT , February 1, 2012 4:23 AM
    finaly a company that gets it... even pirates buy games that they like, and the people that dont buy but pirate were never gonna be customers in the first place.
    the only people that suffer in the long run are the people who buy games with highly intrusive drm... they cant play there games when the drm servers go down while pirates are laughing at em for wasting there money...
    better not to be overly protective and give your paying customers the credit they deserve rather than treating every 1 not just the pirates as potential criminals...

    Well Played Rovio... at least some 1 is taking the rite approach...
  • 1 Hide
    blazorthon , February 1, 2012 4:26 AM
    Glad to finally see a company that realizes there is pretty much nothing that can be done to stop piracy. Even better they use a business model that can tolerate and even be benefited by pirates. Why do so few companies allow people in power to care about their customers and make money? I guarantee that those greedy companies would do even better if they did something similar.
  • 0 Hide
    richboyliang , February 1, 2012 4:28 AM
    See Rovio is quite pleased with themselves, they turned Angry Birds into a nationally recognized name. Almost like Obama's voice; when you hear it, you know it's him, even without seeing anything.
  • 1 Hide
    FloKid , February 1, 2012 5:01 AM
    Naughty Birds
  • 9 Hide
    jezus53 , February 1, 2012 5:39 AM
    They have a very good point. I would have never bought Battlefield 3 if I had never played a pirated copy of Battlefield 2. I used to never like FPS on a PC and would have never tried them if it wasn't for that. So EA, because I pirated a game to test out, you got a customer. WHAT A CONCEPT.

    Hold on guys, I think there's someone at the do-
  • -4 Hide
    acadia11 , February 1, 2012 6:01 AM
    Not only that make it easy, I use iTunes cause relatively it's easy and 2 clicks to buy, Shaalan plus iTunes is the greatet thing ever. Yes I know I could YouTube to mp3, but it's not on the go, and it's not linked to shaxam. The point make it easy and friendly and we will buy and don't try to gouge us.
  • 7 Hide
    Anonymous , February 1, 2012 6:52 AM
    I have to disagree. Piracy is stealing. What was described however is demoing. I've done my share op pirating/copying games in the past. Diablo turned into a full retail disc with music and movies from the soundless version that I had. Diablo 2 was played so much that I needed to buy it. Starcraft got a battlechest with manuals and game guides that I just wanted to have.

    I don't condone piracy (unless you release a piece of crap like mw3 where the dev needs to wake up and smell the technology and gameplay) but I can see how a pirated product can advance sales if it is so good that you MUST own it. I know a few people however that don't buy the games they pirate. They finish the game which I see as taking it too far. It shouldn't go beyond the first 2-3 hours then you should have made up your mind on buying it or leaving it.

    If you like it, buy it. If you dont, get rid of it.
  • 9 Hide
    Goldengoose , February 1, 2012 8:17 AM
    stm1185Because they make their money off advertising. Duh. Their games are nothing, its like a month's worth of work from a small team. If they started spending 8-9 figures to create real games, and rely solely on the money from sales to recoup their investment they would change their opinion overnight.


    Perhaps what you are talking about is an outdated business model then? I think what Rovio is trying to say is that you can't hit piracy head on like a bull because you'll lose your 'fanbase' - so why not change a business model to work with or alongside piracy through adverts.

    For example, there could be a free version full of adverts and a full version with none? Just an example; i'm sure this could go much more indepth.
  • 3 Hide
    jjtober1 , February 1, 2012 8:49 AM
    Most pirates "pirate" gigantic amounts of games, way more than they would even consider actually playing. Most of them are not real customers that would otherwise have bought. There is still some advertising to be gained, people although not paying customer that get excited about a game and talk about it may lead others to buy it. It helps create excitement, which is good as developers want to sell their game at release, not from a bargain bin a year later.
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