"Angry Birds" developer aims slingshot at playground
HELSINKI Dec 12 (Reuters Life) - The world's most popular computer game will become live attractions for children next year when the first "Angry Birds" playgrounds appear in Finland.
The developer of the Angry Birds app, found on mobile devices such as iPhones and tablet computers, said on Monday that two Finnish towns will get the first playgrounds kitted out with equipment inspired by the game's characters as it signed a global deal with playground equipment manufacturer Lappset.
Mobile gaming firm Rovio, which plans to go public within a few years, said last month its hit game had reached a record 500 million downloads less than two years after its launch.
Unlike most mobile game crazes, Angry Birds, in which players use a slingshot to attack pigs who steal the birds' eggs, has stayed atop the charts since it was launched for Apple's iPhone in 2009.
Rovio is expanding the brand across traditional merchandising, to items such as toys and baby products, and is taking the birds to the big screen with film studios.
Lappset will manufacture play and activity equipment and ready-made playgrounds or activity parks inspired by the Angry Birds characters.
"The playgrounds fit perfectly into the Angry Birds world and our way of thinking," Rovio marketing chief Peter Vesterbacka said in a statement.
The Angry Birds playground product range features animal spring riders, swings, sandpits and a range of climbing towers with slides, and a unique Angry Birds arcade game.
Earlier this year, Rovio raised $42 million from venture capital firms including Accel Partners, which previously backed Facebook and Baidu, and Skype founder Niklas Zennstroem's venture capital firm Atomico Ventures.
Rovio was founded in 2003 after three students including Niklas Hed -- CEO Mikael Hed's cousin and now Rovio's COO -- won a game-development competition sponsored by Finnish mobile phone maker Nokia Oyj and Hewlett-Packard CO.
(Reporting By Tarmo Virki, editing by Paul Casciato)
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