Beyond the birds: Rovio finally ready to diversify?

For too long now, Angry Birds maker Rovio has talked loftily of becoming the next Disney, on its never-ending road to an IPO.

But, whereas Disney got early hits with Micky Mouse’s Plane Crazy and Steamboat Willie and quickly expanded its portfolio to a host of new characters and franchises, Rovio has appeared a one-hit wonder.

It had developed a whopping 51 under-the-radar mobile games and nearly fell bankrupt before finally finding its Angry Birds hit in December 2009.

Now, however, Rovio appears finally to be looking beyond the birds. This video released by the company on Wednesday to mark a billion Angry Birds downloads also promised “more amazing things coming soon”, and a blonde-haired boy who appears to be a new character…

148apps believes that boy to be Casey, star of an existing game, Casey’s Contraptions, a $2.99 puzzler which lacks in-game purchase options but whose players have created and submitted over 325,000 levels themselves…

If Rovio has acquired Casey’s Contraptions from creator Noel Llopis, that means Rovio has not diversified its franchise offering under its own steam.

But at least it does point to diversficiation – something that investors will demand if Rovio’s IPO bird ever gets off the ground.

“Disney (NYSE: DIS) is worth around $60 billion. That is our goal and there is no reason why we could not build a company that size,” Rovio marketer Peter Vesterbacka told business paper Tekniikka&Talous in Rovio’s native Finland in December.

Rovio’s “archived games” web page lists almost 30 titles it tried making a splash with before Angry Birds.