Having built perhaps the biggest worldwide gaming brand with Angry Birds, Rovio is ready to turn its hand to games publishing with the launch of its new Rovio Stars initiative. The company already has two partners on board, with Nitrome's adventure game Icebreaker: A Viking Voyage slated to become its first third-party title, followed by the puzzle-based Tiny Thief from 5 Ants. Rovio will help fine-tune the games it selects and assist its partners with marketing and app store submissions.
While the Angry Birds franchise moves beyond the digital space and into merchandising and media deals, Rovio's other games haven't fared so well. Amazing Alex slid down the App Store rankings soon after launch and its games partnership with Dreamworks for The Croods arrived with little fanfare — it's currently ranked in 2,211st position in the App Store. By becoming a games publisher, Rovio could use its position in the industry to find the next Angry Birds by backing independent developers and helping turn their titles into blockbusters. This approach means it doesn't have to invest the same development resources it would with one of its own projects, minimizing the risks involved.