Candy Crush Saga developer King has filed for its IPO with the Securities and Exchange Commission, revealing some staggering usage figures in the process. For the month of December 2013 alone, King saw 1.2 billion daily game plays across its catalog of titles, including Farm Heroes Saga, Papa Pear Saga, and other games in the “Saga” franchise.
Candy Crush Saga developer King has today announced plans to bring Papa Pear Saga to mobile later this fall. The game was originally released on Facebook in March 2013, and has climbed to over 18.9 million monthly active users, according to our app tracking service AppData.
This news is joined by a company milestone, as King’s entire portfolio of games on mobile, Facebook and King.com have crossed one billion daily plays.
Candy Crush Saga developer King (formerly King.com) has quietly revealed the closure of some of its older, less successful Facebook games. The move will see Bubble Saga, Hoop de Loop Saga, Miner Speed and Puzzle Saga all close on September 10, but the company’s most popular ‘Saga’ games won’t be affected. This closure also affects King’s test project King Gold Games, a Facebook hub for events and new game discovery.
Social and casual games company King (formerly King.com) has passed Zynga to become the top app developer on Facebook by monthly active users.
Guest Post: King.com’s move to pull ads more about user experience and less about the effectiveness of in-game advertising
King’s decision to pull all its in-game advertising from mobile, web and tablet shouldn’t be seen as a judgement on the effectiveness of advertising, but rather as a decision to put the user experience ahead of advertising revenue. With the rise of freemium and paymium apps, we’ve seen rapid growth of in-app advertising both as a key discovery channel and way to drive installs. In addition to this, it signifies advertising as an earner in its own right for any publisher with a big installed base. At first glance then, King’s decision seems to run contrary to the trend of using more advertising, rather than less. After all, with the daily spend on install based advertising passing $80,000 in order to get to the top of Apple’s app store, many developers are prioritizing advertising spend above everything else.
The reality is that King understands very well that there’s a trade-off between in-app ads and retention rates. High retention rates are vital for getting to the top of the app stores if you’re not willing to spend your way to get there. Yes, by reducing advertising spend you may decrease the flow of new users and lower your ARPU, if the number of highly engaged, loyal players that spend more on IAP rises to more than the amount lost from the decrease, the net revenues will be higher.
For a game that is engaging and monetizing as well as Candy Crush Saga, there is an opportunity cost to showing advertising. Poorly integrated advertising can be very jarring and deliver a poor overall experience. This has certainly been an accusation leveled at many freemium games in the past, even those from chart-topping developers. For an app to be successful, retention is as important as acquisition. Retention drives the majority of IAP over time. So King may well have seen that there is a far bigger upside in terms of keeping users playing its games than there in generating revenues through advertising. In response, it has adjusted its strategy to fit this new model.
Perhaps one of the lessons here is that effective In-app advertising isn’t about cramming ads into every spare inch of a game; it’s about fitting into the UI in an unobtrusive way that doesn’t detract from the user experience or gameplay. Done well, advertising is a vital part of the business model behind the majority of apps. Some developers create a user experience which is actually optimised so that the display of adverts like interstitials is seamless within transitions and loading screens, while some will look to focus on in-app purchasing for revenue instead. There is no set method for turning a popular app into a cash-generating one: any developer that takes the advertising route needs to think carefully about how and where in-app ads appears in their games, in the same way they would think about in-app purchasing or the price strategy for a premium title.
Chris Hanage is Managing Director for Europe at mobile distribution and monetisation company PapayaMobile. Prior to joining PapayaMobile in September 2011, Chris spent two years as Business Development Director at branded mobile internet and operator portal site developer Momac.
The London-based game studio behind Candy Crush Saga today announced that it’s launching Pet Rescue Saga on iOS and Android early this summer, while also revealing that it has more than 70 million daily active users (DAU) across all platforms — mobile, Facebook and web.
Pet Rescue Saga, which first launched on Facebook in October 2012, joins Candy Crush Saga and Bubble Witch Saga as the third mobile title from the U.K. company. Pet Rescue Saga is a match-3 puzzler in the same vein as the mega popular Candy Crush Saga. The title will launch with more than 72 levels, providing cross-platform gameplay across mobile and Facebook, meaning a user’s game state including their leaderboards, scores and progress remain synchronized. Cross-platform play has been a feature that has shown to be very successful for King’s mobile games so far. Pet Rescue Saga for mobile was developed by King’s Malmo studio.
King’s 70 DAU is significant because it topped Zynga’s 52 million DAU, which it announced during its latest earnings call. When comparing the companies, King is a private company with 450 employees, while on the other hand, Zynga is a public company with a much larger workforce. (more…)
Farm Heroes Saga is a new Facebook game from the newly-rebranded King, released alongside the recent Papa Pear Saga. Access has been somewhat limited until recently, but the game is now open to all players, and being actively promoted via the front page of Facebook’s App Center.
Like most of King’s other games, Farm Heroes Saga takes very heavy cues from well-established puzzle game mechanics. In this case, it follows the same Bejeweled-like mold as the company’s immensely popular Candy Crush Saga, which is presently being heavily promoted in a variety of different media and topping both the MAU and DAU charts as a result. Farm Heroes Saga is presumably an attempt to ensnare the same 45.5 million (estimated) monthly active users and 15 million (estimated) daily active users who are currently playing Candy Crush Saga on a regular basis — but is releasing an almost-identical game the right way to go about it?
Farm Heroes Saga’s basic gameplay will be immediately familiar to anyone who has played Candy Crush Saga or Bejeweled. Players swap various fruits and vegetables around on a grid in an attempt to make matches of three or more like-colored objects in a horizontal or vertical row. When a match is made, it disappears, causing objects above it to drop down into the space that has been made.
Game company King today announce that it’s adding tech industry veteran and former co-founder and CEO of voice mail supplier Octel Communications Robert Cohn to its board of directors.
“We are excited to have Bob join our board given his broad experience with public and private companies across the globe and the exceptional work he has done with his current and past portfolio of businesses,” said Riccardo Zacconi, co-founder and CEO of King, in a statement.
After founding Octel Communications with Peter Olson, Cohn ran Octel as the chairperson and CEO until it was acquired by Lucent Technologies, where he then took on the role as executive vice president. He also held a position at Sequoia Capital as an investment partner as well as served on or chaired public and private boards from startups to Fortune 500 companies. Lastly, Cohn was a governor of Nasdaq for three years.
“King has seen tremendous growth over the past couple years and has become one of the most prominent companies to impact the games industry today,” said Cohn, in a statement. “I’m impressed with the team, the company’s culture, the stellar business model and the exciting challenges ahead. I look forward to serving on King’s board.”
King, which now sees 12 billion gameplay sessions a month worldwide, was last in the news when it rebranded the company from King.com to King as well as announced two new saga games for Facebook, which were Japanese Pachinko-like title Papa Pear Saga (read our review here) and match-3 puzzler Farm Heroes Saga. King’s match-3 puzzle game Candy Crush Saga was also recently named as the most downloaded free app in March for iOS globally by Distimo.
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