Mobile game publisher Rovio is planning to build theme parks in China revolving around its hit product Angry Birds, months after a local amusement park in the country sought to cash in on the franchise's popularity with its own real-life version of the Angry Birds game.
Rovio has already established an official Angry Birds theme park on its hometurf of Finland. But the company aims to do the same in China, where Rovio has been actively expanding with official Angry Birds games and merchandise localized for the market.
The company plans to build Angry Birds theme parks, ranging from small to large in size, across various cities including Beijing and Shanghai, said Paul Chen, general manager for Rovio China on Wednesday. The first parks will appear this year, but more will roll out over the next 18 to 24 months, he added.
The Angry Birds game itself has reached more than 100 million downloads in China, according to Chen, who spoke at event part of the Global Mobile Internet Conference being held in Beijing this week. But to expand into China, Rovio has been forced to wrestle with online piracy and intellectual property infringement in the country.
This made news last September, when a Chinese theme park opened a new attraction called "The Real Version of Angry Birds," allowing visitors to catapult bird-shaped balls at targets with a large slingshot. The theme park did not receive permission from Rovio to create the game, Chen said. But Rovio is in talks with the Chinese theme park on possible partnerships, he added.
Rovio's own theme parks in China will be more like the one offered in Finland, which features a combination of rides and large play structures for children. But the company also wants to incorporate some digital elements visitors' experience at the parks, Chen said. This will include exclusive Angry Birds content, such as animations or game levels, beamed to smartphones.