GDC 13: Candy Crush Saga firm King rebrands as mobile audience booms

GDC 13: Candy Crush Saga firm King rebrands as mobile audience booms
Michael French

By Michael French

March 27th 2013 at 2:00AM

Company has 50m daily players and 108m monthly unique players - 49m are mobile

 

King.com's brand is dead. 

And, according to the London HQ'd casual games outfit, long live King.

The company responsible for current Facebook hit Candy Crush Saga is celebrating its tenth birthday at GDC this week with the unveiling of a new brand identity, two new games, and some impressive audience numbers.  

First up is that rebrand. King has dropped the '.com' and the green logo, underlining its movement away from tournament and gambling-style experiences to broader casual games on social platforms and mobile.

"Our positioning is now around sparkly, fun games," chief marketing office Alex Dale told Develop at GDC earlier today.

"We've gone from zero mobile players to 49 million a month and have really focused on casual games - the brand revamp reflects that."

The firm now just known as King also unveiled two more titles that it hopes will follow in Candy Crush Saga's footsteps. 

One is match-three game Farm Heroes Saga, the first game from King's recently established London studio.

The other is physics puzzler Papa Pear Saga, the first game from its Barcelona branch.

King has the stats to prove its success.

Today it has claimed 50m daily players, and 108m monthly unique players - 49m of that monthly number are on mobile.

They are just a few stats amongst many in a year of major growth for the firm. 

It has added over 300 staff to its operation in the last year (going from 120 to 450) via a mix of acquisition and new studio openings. 

The success has been driven in large part by Candy Crush Saga, which itself was born from the acquisition of Tommy Palm's Stockholm-based Fabrication Games a year ago.

In fact, the huge success of the title and the company during the last year resulted in a packed conference for the company today at GDC, with developers lining up out into the hall to hear first-hand why the firm is doing so well.

Palm's first project at the firm was the Saga version of Candy Crush - a browser game originally hosted on King's sites and other portals.

AppData most recently pegged Candy Crush Saga at over 15m daily active users a day - or 45m a month. 

Candy Crush's success on social and mobile has made King one of the current leaders in Western casual games. It's the largest on Facebook in terms of the category. It also boasts a huge cross-platform base, with sync between Canvas and mobile connecting via Facebook's social graph. The mobile game iterations of its Facebook titles are some of the highest grossing on the App Store and Google Play marketplace.

"We have a lot of customers who start on mobile and come to the Facebook games," explained Dale.

"We also see that people who play on two devices play twice as much as they do on one device. Because they simply can - mobile is accessible at different times and in different ways to Facebook. So each platform and all players benefit from cross-platform with our kind of games."

But how will King stop itself being the social-casual flavour of the month? A year ago at GDC, Zynga was the top dog on Facebook, and look at it now - considered by many a falling star.

Dale told Develop the rebrand is designed to help underline how King, ten years old in 2013, is a long-term player in this market compared to its rivals. 

King is privately owned, and had VC funding early on. It's not sharing any specific revenue numbers, but says it has been profitable since 2005, and in the last year had high double-digit percentage revenue growth. 

"Everyone says this, but: to get the numbers we focus on making good games, and then making better games," he said.

King has publicly spent some of the money though, paying for some profile at GDC with logos on lanyard, adds on street corners - and even Candy-themed characters walking the Moscone Center - to "tell the game industry we exist", said Dale.

King has, in many ways, sat on the periphery of the traditional games market for some time, but is a proven gaming success story in online - especially from a UK perspective, given the firm's HQ is in London.

Plus, Palm believes King has picked a better genre than the other Facebook fads. Its match-three and puzzle genres of choice have more enduring appeal and potential, he told Develop.

"The resource management genre is a saturated market - there is more innovation and potential in simpler puzzle games, they are better suited to the screen sizes and interface of smartphones or tablets. You don't need extensive tutorials or anything over complicated.

"We're certainly following that trend. And we're very early in the puzzle genre."

And King believes it can keep its casual games crown - and even grow the market further. 

Said Palm: "We have 100m users - but that's still a tiny amount of the addressable potential audience."

 

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