b21c836b67fbb057_800x800arRovio has made a killing selling Angry Birds games and pretty much any type of branded merchandise you can imagine, but they haven't done so hot with games that don't feature angry birds or little green pigs.

Today the company announced a new publishing initiative, called Rovio Stars, which will see Rovio publishing 3rd party titles that they think have the potential to be the next Angry Birds without having to actually dump the time and resources into making their own 1st party games. Think Chillingo, but more Finnish.

It makes total sense, and with the kind of money and established fan base that Rovio has they can provide an opportunity for good games to stand out that might otherwise get buried in the App Store.

While I'm not super surprised to see Rovio moving into publishing, the most exciting part about this news is that the first two Rovio Stars games are both ones we've previewed in the past, were pretty excited for, and then haven't heard much about since.

First up is Nitrome's Icebreaker: A Viking Voyage, a clever-looking physics puzzler we first spotted last December. I know, I know, physics puzzlers. But Icebreaker looked pretty unique in that it had you manipulating and slicing apart different parts of the environment in order to get your little viking dude to its goal. It also didn't hurt that Icebreaker had a top-notch visual style and great sound work. Here's a new Rovio Stars-approved trailer for Icebreaker which looks pretty similar to the first trailer but comes with much more gruff voiceover.

Following Icebreaker, the next Rovio Stars game is set to be Tiny Thief by 5 Ants. You might remember us gushing over Tiny Thief back at GDC last year, which feels like ages ago. Not long after that some new screens popped up and it looked like everything was go for launch in the months that followed. It sort of seemed to fall off the map, though, so I'm extremely happy to see it resurface under Rovio Stars.

Tiny Thief is a puzzle game at its heart, and sees you controlling a tiny thief as you use stealth and ingenuity to successfully steal stuff in a vibrant, cutesy little universe. The really impressive part about Tiny Thief is the level of interactive elements in the game's environments. You can interact with practically anything, and doing so can have a wide variety of results, meaning there's never just one clearcut path through each level. Here's the original trailer again, newly branded by Rovio Stars, so you can get an idea of Tiny Thief in action.

Both Icebreaker: A Viking Voyage and Tiny Thief are said to be coming "soon" so be sure to add both to your TouchArcade [Free] app Watch List if you didn't do so previously and we'll be sure to update you with any more news, like pricing or a specific release date. Also, if you're a developer interested in applying for the Rovio Stars program you can do so on the Rovio website.

It'll be interesting to see how this whole Rovio Stars thing pans out, but at the very least I'm super excited to see two games I had thought went the way of the dodo resurface with new life.

  • http://twitter.com/mguniverse Danny Perski

    Why does Tiny Thief need a publisher?

    • http://twitter.com/ChaoticBox Frank Condello

      As Rovio CEO Peter Vesterbacka said regarding their deal with Chillingo: “You don’t need publishers.” ... So that's why :D

    • roddgreen

      I would say the issue is that regardless of game quality it's very tough to stand out in the stores. They bring attention and existing userbase to games, the game then is only limited by how good it is.

      As a developer it's probably pretty nice to offload all the pr/marketing/testing work and focus on improving gameplay.

  • captainChocolade

    Funny little Flash games.

    • http://www.facebook.com/mat.annal Mat Annal

      Icebreaker is based on our original flash games but the new iOS game is all C++ (and a little Objective C). It is only very loosely based on the old flash Icebreaker games...bejond having the same basic mechanic this is a totally new and more epic adventure that's taken us over a year and a half to make vs the 6 weeks of the original :)

  • mrTofu

    only 3 star games? JK

    • http://www.facebook.com/mat.annal Mat Annal

      Icebreaker doesn't have a 3 star system. I can't speak for Tiny Thief but I would doubt they have one either. Rovio is trying to focus on publishing great games IMO. The three stars I think is just a funny ref to the 3 star system that kicked off after Angry Birds.

  • TheFrost

    Now there is more hope for Super Feed Me to finally arrive! Yay! :)

  • Nick

    I have been waiting for Tiny Thief with great anticipation.

    The sooner it launches, the sooner it's on my idevice, the sooner I can die happy. It looks like a rocking little title.

  • oldgamer dude

    Hmm , another physics based puzzle game in the angry birds vein ? Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzxzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    Oh excuse me :) tiny thief looks interesting though .

    • Adams Immersive

      Icebreaker's not a Crush the Castle clone like Angry Birds. Different kind of game.

      Both look good to me!

    • http://www.facebook.com/mat.annal Mat Annal

      Icebreaker is a lot less linear than your average Physics puzzle game. It has branching maps, bosses, one off set piece events, a story, tons of new elements added with each map and lots of secrets. Oh and it doesn't have a 3 star system either. If you look into the game more writing it off as 'another physics based puzzler' is a bit unfair.

  • Hoggy110

    Icebreaker and Tiny Theif: now with 20% more birds

    • Hoggy110

      *thief

      -_-

  • araczynski

    Viking Voyage looks interesting to me...Tiny Thief, no.

  • garret44

    Worried me to see rovio associated just because they could stock these 2 highly anticipated games with iaps.

    But as long as they're just publishing and helping these developers, I'm all 4 it!

  • Alex Wolf

    Icebreaker is my fav flash game ever!!

    • http://www.facebook.com/mat.annal Mat Annal

      thanks...the iOS version is sooooo much better so your going to love it!

  • tRKe

    Tiny Thief reminds me of the old pc adventure game Gobliiins. Hopefully it's something like it.. Could use a good adventure puzzler and a break from all the physic games. rk

  • kirby83

    i hope these arent ipad only...

    • http://www.facebook.com/mat.annal Mat Annal

      Icebreaker works on iPhone and iPod touch as well. I don't know about Tiny Thief as we didn't make that.

  • PureRumble

    The viking game looks very nice and promising. I thought i had stuffed my ipad with enough physics puzzler as i had seen it all, but im probably gonna make some room :)

  • http://twitter.com/NadiaOrenes Nadia Orenes

    Tiny Thief will be available for iOS and Android tablets and phones. ;)