Rovio’s Bad Piggies Shoots to the Top of the Charts, but Will It Stick?

Rovio is back on top of the iPhone charts today with a game called Bad Piggies, a spinoff of its insanely popular Angry Birds franchise.

In the new game, released today on iOS, Android and Mac, players build elaborate vehicles for their pigs before sending them through elaborate obstacle courses. The goal is to collect as many eggs as possible.

The 99-cent app has already risen to the No. 1 spot on the iPhone and iPad paid charts in the U.S., according to AppData, which tracks user downloads. The game is not yet registering on Google Play. A company spokesperson did not immediately return emails seeking comment.

There’s a lot riding on Bad Piggies for the Finnish game maker Rovio, which attempted to move beyond its core Angry Birds franchise this summer with the release of a game called Amazing Alex. However, while the game initially zoomed to the top of the charts in 54 countries, it failed to stay there. After less than two months, Amazing Alex ranked as the 73rd most-popular paid app worldwide.

As Reuters noted, the stakes are high for Rovio to get this one right:

A hit on app stores would give the Finnish company a boost as it looks to a possible stock market flotation next year. Some analysts put its market value at between $6 billion and $9 billion, nearly on par with another top Finnish tech name, phone maker Nokia Oyj.

Rovio was founded in 2003, and became a global phenomenon after it launched Angry Birds for Apple’s iPhone in late 2009.

The highly-addictive game helped Rovio’s sales jump tenfold to $100 million last year, a fraction of the 38.7 billion euros ($50.2 billion) that Nokia chalked up.

What Rovio has proven with Amazing Alex — and now with Bad Piggies — is that it has the network power to get a game to No. 1 on the first day, a skill any mobile game developer would covet. But whether that alone is worth as much as $9 billion, it’s hard to know.

Will a return to its original hit franchise help justify its sky-high valuation?

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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus