“The world caught us off-guard,” says the website of game startup Lightneer. Lightneer is the new learning-game company founded just as Angry Birds developer Rovio restructured. The comment refers to the fast pace of change in the game industry, but it sounds as if it could also refer to Rovio’s decision to close down its education division and cut more than 200 jobs.
According to the Lightneer website, the company founders, who used to head up Rovio’s education division, want to create the next generation of great learning games. “Learning games are currently in a painstakingly similar situation as mobile games were in 2007; they’re a niche product, produced quickly, often with small budgets and inexperienced game design teams. We want to change this.”
If anyone can do it, the founders of Lightneer—Lauri Järvilehto, Lauri Konttori, Niklas Hed, and Peter Vesterbacka—probably can. Collectively, they’ve shipped more than 50 extremely popular games.
The CEO of Lightneer, Lauri Järvilehto, says the company will release its first game in early 2016.
There isn’t much information available yet about the new game—only that it will be a card game that focuses on history. And that it will make learning fun and seamless.
Rovio’s sales of Angry Birds, one of the most popular mobile games in history, have fallen off steeply in the past year. As a result, Rovio announced that it would restructure and concentrate on media, games, and consumer products. “While we have gathered good momentum this year, especially with the launch of the Angry Birds 2 game—downloaded nearly 50 million times in its first month of release—fundamental changes are needed to ensure Rovio succeeds in its global ambitions to be the leading entertainment company with mobile games at its heart,” said Rovio’s CEO Pekka Rantala. “This is personally a difficult decision. However, it is certain that a leaner and more agile Rovio is absolutely necessary to move forward and take the company to new successes in the future.We will work with and support all our employees through this period of change.”