Angry Birds IPO Will Be a Test for Digital Game Industry

"Angry Birds" soon may be catapulting into the stock market, a much riskier game than the mobile one that made the scowling critters famous in the first place.

Rovio Entertainment Ltd., which hit pay dirt with its addictive iPhone game and a hit movie, is widely expected to file an initial public offering on the Helsinki Stock Exchange as early as September, according to a number of media reports. The Finland-based company hopes to raise some $400 million, which would put the value of the company behind those colorful, round birds with the menacing eyebrows as high as $2 billion, Bloomberg News reported.

The potential IPO will be closely watched as a test of the economic durability of the fickle digital game industry: Similar entertainment companies with a hot commodity have disappointed after cashing in by going public. Many wonder if Rovio's branch-out into a film franchise and merchandise will help it fare better than its peers.

"It's probably the best time for them to go public," said Erik Gordon, a professor at the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business, noting the company's recent peak in revenues. "But it's a tough kind of business. You're only as good as your last hit."

Since the "Angry Birds" game first landed on iPhones in 2009, Rovio has been buoyed by a series of hits, although none have made the splash -- or achieved the cultural ubiquitousness -- of "Angry Birds." With more than 3 billion downloads, it was ranked as the most popular game ever on Apple iOS operating system.

Designed on a whim by Jaakko Iisalo, Rovio's sole designer at the time, "Angry Birds" was Rovio's 52nd game and the first to hit the jackpot when first launched in December 2009. It quickly topped the charts as Apple's most downloaded purchased app, holding the No....

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