Angry Birds Boss Says Piracy Can Create Fans And Fans Fuel Business

By William Usher 2012-01-31 16:04:29 discussion comments
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It's rare that you hear someone in the world of media entertainment talk about piracy as a positive thing for their business. In fact, it's even rarer that you'll hear a business owner speak about customers as being fans or treating fans with respect because in the end, they're the ones who keep you in business.

Rovio, the company behind the hugely successful Angry Birds, which became a runaway success on mobile phones and computers, is ran by guys who have real heads on their shoulders and they don't completely see the world of interactive entertainment through dollar-sign glasses, especially when it comes to piracy.

Chief executive Mikael Hed, in an interview with the Guardian, stated that...
"We could learn a lot from the music industry, and the rather terrible ways the music industry has tried to combat piracy."..." "We took something from the music industry, which was to stop treating the customers as users, and start treating them as fans. 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."

Yes! Thank you, Hed. Dude, you get it.

A lot of CEOs are thinking about stock prices, investor interest, shareholders, quarterly results, whether or not the revenue is up to par and how well the company's performance hits forecasted profit margins. We see gaming companies basically taking the lowest-common denominator route for games, selling "prettier visuals" with dumbed-down gameplay for top-dollar retail prices and then complaining about all the piracy that follows. The biggest problem is that a lot of bigger publishers alienate their fanbase by focusing on revenue as opposed to the quality of the product.

The reality is that gamers will buy a product and spread the word to friends to also buy the product if the product is good. The fight against piracy, which eventually lead to ludicrous fascist-state legislations for things such as PIPA and SOPA is kind of the complete opposite of what Mikael Hed talks about in regards to creating fans and followers, who will willing lay money down for a product worth owning.

I like how Hed talks about being in control of the product, which is basically where this whole piracy thing falls into grey territory. He mentions, however, that their company is on the right track no matter what people think about Angry Birds, saying...
Already our apps are becoming channels, and we can use that channel to cross-promote to sell further content,"... "The content itself has transformed into the channel, and the traditional distribution channels are no longer the kingmakers."... "It is possible to promote music content through our apps as well... We are positively looking for new partnerships, and we have a rather big team working on partnerships, so it's just a case of getting in touch with us and we'll take it from there."

I may not be a fan of Angry Birds but I'm a fan of what Mikael Hed believes in regarding product integrity and fan support. If more developers and publishers used this kind of reasoning behind their products we wouldn't have to deal with in-fighting currently going on in the community with things such as DRM and consumers being punished by big publishers due to online piracy.

You can check out the entire interview with Hed over at the Guardian.
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