Angry Birds: A Question of Leadership?

Have you heard of Angry Birds lately? Well, its head bird, Mikael Hed, has announced he would be stepping down by year’s end. Why? Because the gaming phenomenon has slowed down in claiming more stars. In short, the pigs has just been winning over the birds for quite a while now.

Rovio Founder and CEO Mikael Hed

Rovio Founder and CEO Mikael Hed

Hmm… always seems to be the case. Profits down, or there are losses – the chief is forced to step down.

Then again, this is a different thing. I mean, it’s gaming. One of the most unpredictable, if not fleeting business environments there is. Gamers are simply insatiable. And obviously, because of the many choices they have, creating a new game doesn’t necessarily translate into heavy usage.

So, if bosses are to be replaced just like how they are forced to resign now – then there would be an even faster turning of the wheels – including that of upcoming CEO Pekka Rantala.

Okay, Rantala may be able to come up with a good strategy but it would only be good while it lasts. Afterwhich, we can again expect another temp at the helm.

In gaming, that’s just how it is.

Angry Birds freemium game. Released just last year, 2013

Rovio’s freemium game: Angry BIrds Go, released 2013

While Hed was faced with choosing between developing freemium games and going for those Angry Bird byproducts like lunchboxes, apparel, movies, animation, and theme parks – he could have just split his team and went for both early on. Or at least, made those tactical adjustments not so far apart to cover ground faster and better.

That could have assured Angry Birds’ continued relevancy. But now, that failure was what angered the flock, and made Mikael Hed a bit irrelevant. Was this a question of leadership? In this case, yes.

And one obvious misstep would be the huge disparity in in-game purchases. Rivals charge players less than $3; while Angry Birds Go though it included upgrades to allow online characters to get to the game’s later stages costs as high as $60. Whew!

Can Pekka Rantala turn the sling around for the birds? Well, it doesn’t matter if he was the chief commercial officer of Nokia – what matters is if he understands the most fickle of customers. Only then could he make Rovio keep slinging those birds.

What’s your take?