Angry Birds publisher Rovio is seeking to cash in on a Chinese theme park that has created a real-life Angry Birds game without the company's permission.
The Window of the World theme park, located in the Chinese city of Changsha, opened the new game this month, calling it "The Real Version of Angry Birds". The game allows visitors to catapult bird-shaped balls at targets with an actual slingshot. The iconic cartoon characters from Angry Birds are also used in the promotions for the game.
If you can't beat 'em, join 'em
"The game did not receive any authorization from Rovio," said Daisy Yang, a spokeswoman for the company's China business. Rovio said it learned of the theme park game from recent media reports.
But rather than take legal action, Rovio has entered into talks with the theme park about creating a long-term partnership. "We would welcome a partnership, but Rovio would need to give them permission to use the Angry Birds game," Yang said.
An employee with the theme park claimed it had already received permission from Rovio's Chinese representatives, and that the two parties were in discussions about a long-term partnership. The theme park's Angry Birds game, which will run until the end of the month, was created as a way to help players release stress, he added.
Partnering with the theme park fits into Rovio's strategy to not only expand the presence of its Angry Birds game in China, but also sell more merchandise around the game.
100 million target in China
The company has high hopes for the Chinese market, and wants its Angry Birds game to reach 100 million downloads in the country by the end of this year. To this end, it is working to create Chinese versions of Angry Birds, which the company plans to release this month.
Rovio hopes to eventually turn Angry Birds into an entire entertainment franchise. It has already begun to sell T-shirts, iPhone cases, and Chinese traditional moon cakes, all tied to the Angry Birds game.
But the company is well aware of rampant piracy and counterfeiting in China. While speaking in Beijing in April, Rovio's chief marketing officer Peter Vesterbacka said the company took pride in being one of the top three most copied brands in China. Now the company aims to translate that popularity into sales, he added.