February 6, 2019 / 9:44 AM / 10 months ago

Japan's Docomo invests in Finnish Rovio spin-off Hatch

HELSINKI (Reuters) - Japan’s leading mobile operator Docomo has invested in Hatch, a spin-off of Angry Birds game maker Rovio, to bring 5G gaming to Japanese consumers, Rovio said on Wednesday.

FILE PHOTO - The logo of NTT Docomo is seen during its flagship shop's reopening event in Tokyo, Japan June 30, 2017. REUTERS/Toru Hanai

Hatch offers players streaming access to mobile games on Android devices the way Netflix does for movies or Spotify for music. It believes that next-generation, fast 5G mobile connections will mean a shift to cloud-based gaming on smartphones.

Docomo and Hatch described the partnership as “strategic” on Wednesday, without revealing its value.

“Japan is the world’s third largest games market and where the video games industry as we know it was born. In this extremely competitive market we couldn’t be happier to work with a partner like Docomo to help take our vision of cloud gaming mainstream,” Hatch’s founder and CEO Juhani Honkala said.

With its investment in Hatch, Rovio is looking to secure a new revenue stream to ease its heavy dependence of its Angry Birds brand that was first launched as a mobile game in 2009.

Rovio owns 80 percent of Hatch, which operates as an independent subsidiary.

Rovio’s shares were up 6.4 percent by 0932 GMT.

Hatch’s cloud gaming is so far available in the Nordics, the UK and Ireland for Android devices but not for iPhones.

“For the moment, Apple doesn’t accept streaming services in its App Store,” Rovio spokesman Mikko Setala said.

Hatch believes running the service from the cloud rather than locally on the phone should also improve the experience for multiplayer games.

Docomo’s head of consumer business Takanori Ashikawa said in a statement: “Hatch’s vision for cloud gaming changes the way people play and discover games, and our shared goal to enrich the everyday lives of our customers makes Hatch an excellent strategic partner for the long term.”

Reporting by Anne Kauranen; Editing by Georgina Prodhan

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