Sega is reportedly close to buying Rovio Entertainment — the company that owns the Angry Birds mobile game franchise — for a whopping $1 billion, according to The Wall Street Journal. Sega may lock in the big deal by early next week, according to people speaking with WSJ.

It’s surprising to think that Sega — specifically, its parent company Sega Sammy Holdings — would want to spend so much on Rovio given the decline in popularity of the Angry Birds games. The original game was a smash success in 2009, but the franchise has seemingly fallen off since its 2014 peak, when Rovio reported falling profits and layoffs.

In 2016, Rovio tried a movie adaptation, The Angry Birds Movie, which was a box office success and is still the seventh highest grossing video game movie — even if reviews weren’t kind. Its 2019 sequel, The Angry Birds Movie 2, did not achieve the same success. Rovio watched as competitors like Candy Crush grew more and more, eating away interest in Angry Birds.

Perhaps Sega has dreams of launching Angry Birds into the Nights

Recently, Rovio removed its original Angry Birds game from the Google Play Store, and it renamed the iOS version to Red’s First Flight. The move was done seemingly to move players over to its lucrative freemium sequels and obscure the buy once and play forever business model of the original game.

Rovio previously neared an $800 million deal for Israeli developer Playtika to take over, but those talks officially dwindled in March. Now, Sega might soon own the Finland-based Angry Birds company instead.

Rovio’s original Angry Birds game was the first mobile game to reach 1 billion downloads (a record certified by Guinness World Records, in fact), and Rovio claimed its combined library of games had reached 5 billion downloads as of last year. So maybe there’s an argument for the company to valued at a fifth of a dollar per download. Remember that time Take-Two bought social game studio Zynga for $12.7 billion?

Maybe Sega’s got a new set of heroes on par with Sonic and friends, just waiting for an epic mobile games franchise to propel them.

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