'Angry Birds' maker branches into third-party app development with Rovio Stars

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Rovio Entertainment launched a new game publishing program, Rovio Stars, which promotes mobile titles from third-party developers, a first for the mobile gaming giant. The first title to be launched through the initiative is Icebreaker: A Viking Voyage from Nitrome Ltd. No release date was given for Icebreaker.

"Rovio Entertainment has positioned itself as one of the powerhouses of mobile entertainment, so moving into publishing is a logical step for us at this point," said Rovio's EVP of Games Jami Laes. "We want to help our fans find quality entertainment among the more than 100,000 games available in app stores. That's where Rovio Stars comes in."

Rovio stated that it is looking for games intended for all ages that are already in a late stage of development. Interested developers can click here to apply.

"We want to help the developers to give these games that last coat of polish, publish the games and find their audience. We're focusing on a small, select number of games, and each Rovio Stars launch will be an event of its own," said Kalle Kaivola, Rovio's director of development.

The move into publishing is one of several changes for Rovio, as the company looks to position itself as more than just a mobile game developer. In February the company launched an advertising division, the Brand Advertising Partnership Team, which allows Rovio to work directly with brands like McDonalds and Campell's to feature in-game product advertising. Then, in March, Rovio launched a video distribution channel to promote its Angry Birds Toons series.

Rovio isn't the first mobile gaming company to create a publishing business. Glu Mobile (NASDAQ:GLUU) in February announced a new publishing division designed to help third-party developers port hit iOS games to Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android and Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows Phone. Glu Publishing will launch its first four partner titles during the second half of this year, ramping up to one new third-party game per month in 2014.

For more:
- see this release
- see this WSJ story (sub. req.)

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