Angry Birds heads for outer space

@CNNMoneyTech February 17, 2012: 5:17 PM ET
Rovio's Angry Birds Space trailer teases the game's launch next month.

Rovio's Angry Birds Space trailer teases the game's launch next month.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Move over, Jupiter: Angry Birds is hitting the galaxy.

Rovio, the company behind the wildly popular gaming franchise, said Friday that its next installment will be Angry Birds Space.

"One small fling for a bird. One quantum leap for birdkind," the company teased on a site dedicated to the new game. The game will launch on March 22, along with accompanying "animation, retail, and publishing" tie-ins, Rovio said on its company blog.

Two years after its launch, the Angry Birds empire shows no signs of waning. Angry Birds and its two sequels, "Rio" and "Seasons," have collectively been downloaded more than 500 million times, Rovio said recently.

"What we're building is an entertainment franchise," Rovio marketing chief Peter Vesterbacka recently told CNNMoney. "Obviously entertainment is a lot more than just games. We think that the business we're going after is significantly bigger than just games."

Translating hit digital games to other mediums is always risky, but so far Angry Birds' expansion has been a textbook case for successful brand building. The company has a line of plush toys and apparel, and has licensed its characters for other products like a Mattel game and a line of Angry Birds themed baby products.

"We have more than 20,000 Angry Birds products out there in market already," Vesterbacka says."When you have a loved brand, it will take physical form -- toys, all kinds of physical products.

News of the latest game comes less than a week after the company made Angry Birds available on Facebook.

So will Rovio, a Finnish company that raised $42 million last year from Silicon Valley venture capitalists, be the next big tech brand to go public?

"I would say everything is on the table," Vesterbacka says. "What we're trying to do now is make Angry Birds all it can be." To top of page

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