Alex Pelletier-Normand, CEO:
My experience as the Head of Games of Rovio has shown me that as a company, we have the right ingredients to be competitive in today’s mobile gaming market. We have focused teams, deep know-how in the Casual segment – the largest segment in mobile games – a brand with a wide appeal and extremely high global awareness, a will to pioneer future paradigm changes in the market, and a strong balance sheet to fuel growth. I am honored to have been appointed as the CEO of such a company at the beginning of the year.
Rovio ended the year 2020 with stable key game bookings, good profitability, and strong cash flow. In the last quarter, games gross bookings grew year-on-year in comparable currencies. Working from home we continued to deliver on our strategy of putting our players first through great live services. I am happy to say that our operations and new game projects are progressing well despite the unusual circumstances brought on by the COVID pandemic. I want to thank all Rovians for their great efforts and perseverance in 2020. They adapted to the challenges brought by remote work fast, resolutely, and flawlessly. Our eagerness to approach new circumstances head-on is deeply representative of how we will tackle market evolutions.
In the fourth quarter, our largest game Angry Birds 2 gross bookings grew year-on-year and we launched a significant update – Arena 2.0 – that was especially targeted at the most engaged and competitive players, showing them a deeper sense of progression. This update was intended to act as a launchpad, opening new opportunities for evolutions, and allowing us to start the year 2021 in a good position. Angry Birds Dream Blast declined year-on-year, attributable to a much lower level of user acquisition. We are in the progress of renewing the game’s visual progression system and introducing new events that we believe will increase player retention. Angry Birds Friends had its best quarter since Q3 2018, and we can now see that the investments we made on this game since 2019 are paying off. During the quarter we continued to gradually scale up our newest game Small Town Murders while introducing new content, new language versions and an end-game loop as important steps to enable increased player engagement and further scalability.
In 2020, we took steps forward on a strategic level. Firstly, we believe it is necessary to think about the shape that will take the industry in years ahead. To be at the forefront of those innovations, we set up a forward-looking studio in Montreal, exploring trends that will drive the games of tomorrow, including games being used as social networks, the switch towards a post-platform paradigm, and the emergence of the metaverse. Secondly, we acquired a studio in Copenhagen for which we identified strong synergies. The combination of the team’s deep knowledge of the action RPG genre and Rovio’s marketing and analytical support gave fruit to significant progress of their game during the fall. I am happy to announce that the studio’s game Darkfire Heroes, which was in soft launch in 2020, is planned to be launched in April of this year.
Lastly, the year ended with my nomination as CEO. Knowing the company very well given my previous role, I expect the transition to continue to unfold smoothly, with the support of Rovians. In 2021, we focus on executing our strategy on all fronts and keep putting our players first. Our live game portfolio is solid, and the new game pipeline is deep with numerous promising projects. At the same time, we are paving the way for the years ahead by continuing to invest into forward-looking products that take advantage of industry shifts that were accelerated by the pandemic. On the M&A front we engage with companies that have innovative games, clear synergies and talented teams that share our vision of the future. My highest priority is to work with fellow Rovians to drive long-term growth through delivering on our mission: craft joy with player-focused gaming experiences that last for decades.
Link to full report here.