Angry Birds soars online with App Engine

About Rovio

Rovio Entertainment Corporation is a Finnish games-first entertainment company that creates, develops, and publishes mobile games and acts as a brand licensor in various entertainment and consumer product categories. The company is best known for the global Angry Birds brand, which started from a popular mobile game in 2009.

Industries: Gaming
Location: Finland
Products: App Engine

Google Cloud Platform results

  • Creates highly engaging games that have attracted millions of online users
  • Remains focused on enhancing game features, thanks to minimal setup and maintenance requirements
  • Deploys new games quickly with teams of one or two developers per game
  • Capitalizes on opportunities to expand their audience and grow the business by developing customized games in less than two weeks
  • Integrates features such as Cloud Datastore and the Users API to provide scalable, secure storage and to easily authenticate users

        Rovio, creator of the blockbuster Angry Birds game series, turned to App Engine when it came time to adapt its mobile apps for web browsers. The Finland-based company needed a platform that could support explosive demand and provide robust capabilities to deliver a superior user experience. App Engine provides both while requiring minimal maintenance, which gives the company's developers time to focus on improving the games.

        Challenge

        Rovio knew that bringing its games online presented an enormous opportunity. In early 2011, a development team began planning a version of Angry Birds for Chrome. The company wanted to launch the game at Google's annual I/O conference that spring, just a few months away.

        The developers needed a platform that would scale effortlessly: The mobile app had already hit more than 140 million downloads, and the team expected demand for the free online version to be overwhelming. They also wanted a low-maintenance system that would make it easy to update features and bring new titles online.

        Solution

        The developers chose App Engine to build the game because they knew it would allow them to work quickly and provide the scalability needed to support an enormous user base. Angry Birds Chrome finished on schedule, followed by other titles such as Angry Birds Google+ and Angry Birds Friends. Rovio also created customized versions for companies, sports teams, and other partners.

        "Our web games tend to be popular immediately, so we don't have the option of scaling them over time. Google App Engine makes the process painless, since it can instantly launch as many servers as we need."

        Stefan Hauk, lead server developer for web games, Rovio

        "Google App Engine allows us to launch games very quickly with teams of one or two developers per game," says Stefan Hauk, Rovio's lead server developer for web games. "Because Google manages all the servers, there is little required of us in terms of maintenance."

        Hauk and his fellow developers use a number of App Engine features to improve the games, including:

        • Cloud Datastore for scalable, long-term storage of game data
        • Memcache API to boost performance by providing temporary, high-speed data access through a high-performance memory cache
        • Task queues to run certain complex operations in the background, improving game responsiveness for users
        • Users API to authenticate users with their Google usernames and passwords, which provides a seamless experience when accessing a game

        App Engine allows the developers to add new features easily and continuously improve the games for users. They can deploy new versions with a single command and switch back to the previous version if needed. They can also rely on App Engine to scale automatically to support heavy demand from the moment the games launch.

        "Because our web games are popular immediately, we don't have the option of scaling them over time," Hauk says. "Google App Engine makes the process painless, since it can instantly launch as many servers as we need and scale back down when a game has passed its usage peak."

        Results

        Millions of gamers have flocked to Rovio's web games since their launch. The company's most popular offering, the Facebook game Angry Birds Friends, logs more than 13 million users every month. Since the developers don't need to install or maintain hardware, they can devote their attention to enhancing the games, which have received overwhelmingly positive reviews.

        "Google App Engine automates a lot of processes, which has made our jobs easier," Hauk says. "At other companies I've been with, there was always a need to be on call after hours to deal with server problems. This isn't necessary here, because Google App Engine just works."

        The ability to build and deploy quickly has allowed Rovio to capitalize on expanding its audience and to act on business opportunities.

        "There have been times when we've been asked to build a customized game in a week or two," Hauk says. "We know that App Engine will enable us to do this and that it will scale for us no matter how many users we get."

        About Rovio

        Rovio Entertainment Corporation is a Finnish games-first entertainment company that creates, develops, and publishes mobile games and acts as a brand licensor in various entertainment and consumer product categories. The company is best known for the global Angry Birds brand, which started from a popular mobile game in 2009.

        Industries: Gaming
        Location: Finland