Illegal copying nevertheless spreads brand awareness, claims Mikael Hed

Piracy has its benefits, says Angry Birds studio

The CEO of Rovio Mobile, the Finnish studio that built the trailblazing Angry Birds franchise, believes there is some value in games piracy.

Speaking at the Midem conference in Cannes this morning, Mikael Hed said the games industry could learn from “the rather terrible ways the music industry has tried to combat piracy".

“Rovio has some issues with piracy, not only in apps, but also especially in the consumer products,” Hed said, as quoted by The Guardian.

“There are tons and tons of merchandise out there, especially in Asia, which is not officially licensed products.”

But the answer is not brute force legislation, Hed claimed, believing that such practices are rather futile in combating piracy and can actually have a negative effect on brand awareness.

"We took something from the music industry, which was to stop treating the customers as users, and start treating them as fans,” he said.

“We do that today: we talk about how many fans we have. If we lose that fan base, our business is done, but if we can grow that fan base, our business will grow."

Hed said there were exceptions where Rovio would pursue pirates through the courts, such as knock-off products that are deemed harmful to the Angry Birds brand.

But otherwise the company isn’t edgy over piracy, he added.

“Piracy may not be a bad thing: it can get us more business at the end of the day."

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