King (company)

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King Digital Entertainment plc
Type Public limited company
Traded as NYSEKING
Industry Interactive entertainment, social networking service
Founded August 2003
Headquarters London, United Kingdom
Area served Worldwide
Key people Riccardo Zacconi (CEO)
Products Video games
Employees 600+
Website www.king.com

King Digital Entertainment plc,[1] is a casual-social games company, and the largest game developer on Facebook.[2][3] King develops games for the web, for mobile (both iOS and Android), and for Facebook.[4][5]

Company[edit]

King is led by Riccardo Zacconi, who has served in that role since co-founding the company in 2003.[6] Founding partner Melvyn Morris serves as chairman.[7] The company has 665 employees and parcels development out to small, autonomous teams of designers working with a "startup" mentality. In 2013, it spent $110.5 million on research and development, roughly 6 percent of sales.[8]

History[edit]

Prior to founding King, Zacconi, Morris, and Toby Rowland worked together on uDate.com, a site created by Morris. Morris sold the site for $150 million in 2003.[7] The three joined forces with Sebastian Knutsson, Thomas Hartwig, Lars Markgren and Patrik Stymne to found King in 2003.[9] Originally headquartered in Sweden, King nearly went bankrupt before a Christmas Eve cash infusion in 2003.[6] The company raised $43 million in 2005 by selling a large stake to Apax and Index Ventures.[9] The company finished the year with a profit for the first time and has been profitable each year since.[6] Rowland, who had served as co-CEO, departed the company in 2008 and sold his stake back to the company for $3 million in 2011.[7] Angel investor and former board member Klaus Hommels sold his similar stake at the same time.[9]

By the first quarter of 2012, King had 30 million active users. That number jumped to 408 million by the end of 2013.[9] Sales increased from a little over $62 million in 2011 to $1.88 billion in 2013.[9]

Trademark and cloning disputes[edit]

In January 2014, King attracted controversy after attempting to trademark the words "Candy" and "Saga" in game titles.[10] This directly impacted Stoic's trademark request for The Banner Saga to which King filed an opposition, calling the name "deceptively similar" to King games.[10] Stoic said that the dispute hindered work on a planned sequel to their game.[11] The developer Runsome Apps opposed King's trademark of the term "candy" on grounds of "likelihood of confusion", referencing its CandySwipe game, that was published two years before Candy Crush Saga. King subsequently contested the trademark of "CandySwipe". In February 2014, Runsome Apps ceased legal action and opposition towards King, while posting an open letter shaming Kings' business practices regarding trademarks.[12] On April 17, 2014, it was reported that King has settled its disputes with Stoic Studio and Runsome Apps.[13]

Also in January 2014, game developer Matthew Cox accused King of ripping off his game Scamperghost, saying Kings' Pac-Avoid was a clone of it. According to Cox, he was in talks with King about licensing Scamperghost, but when the deal fell through the company released the game Pac-Avoid. Cox said Epicshadows, the developer of Pac-Avoid, told him that King had approached them to "clone the game very quickly".[14] King removed the game from its website, but denied the cloning allegation, stating that they were removing the game "for the avoidance of doubt".[15] Later, in an official statement on the company's website, King stated: "The details of the situation are complex, but the bottom line is that we should never have published Pac-Avoid. We have taken the game down from our site, and we apologise for having published it in the first place. Let me be clear: This unfortunate situation is an exception to the rule. King does not clone games, and we do not want anyone cloning our games."[16]

IPO[edit]

On 26 March 2014, King completed its initial public offering (IPO). Priced at $22.50 a share, the middle of its projected price range, the IPO valued the company at US$7.08 billion. About $500 million was raised through the sale of 22.2 million shares. Of that, 15.3 million shares came from the company and the rest from Apax Ventures and other stakeholders. It was the largest ever IPO for a mobile/social gaming company in the US, narrowly eclipsing Zynga's 2011 offering.[6] To celebrate the debut, Candy Crush mascots took to the New York Stock Exchange.[7]

Shares of King fell 15.6% on the first day of trading, closing at $19.[7] The company trades under the "KING" symbol on the New York Stock Exchange.[6] With approximately 35.6 million shares, Morris is the company's largest shareholder.[7]

Games[edit]

King games offer synchronised play, enabling users to connect to their Facebook account whilst playing on their smartphone or tablet device. This means that the user's progress is updated across all platforms, allowing the player to switch from mobile, to tablet, to Facebook without losing their progress in the game.[17][18] They also offer two of their games to connect to KakaoTalk in Korea.

Candy Crush[edit]

Main article: Candy Crush Saga

King's most popular game is Candy Crush Saga, which was launched on King's website in March 2011.[19] It launched on Facebook in April 2012 and quickly gained popularity. Following its success on Facebook, King launched Candy Crush Saga on mobile (iOS and Android) in November 2012. The game was downloaded over 10 million times in its first month.[20][21] In January 2013, it became the number 1 game on Facebook.[5][22] It had over 45 million monthly users by March.

Other current games[edit]

Bubble Witch Saga was King's first mobile game, released in July 2012 after its successful launch on Facebook in September 2011.[23][24] Bubble Witch Saga and its sequel Bubble Witch 2 Saga are unlicensed clones of Taito Corporation's 1994 game Puzzle Bobble.[25] King has a catalogue of over 150 games available in over 14 languages. In May 2014, Pyramid Solitaire Saga was soft launched on Facebook.[26] In June 2014, Candy Crush Soda Saga was released as a soft launch on Facebook and mobile[27] and Bubble Witch 2 Saga was widely released for Android and iOS devices.[28]

Former games[edit]

App Store Games[edit]

As of September 2014, King has eight games available for download on the App Store. These are Candy Crush, Pet Rescue, Papa Pear, Farm Heroes, Bubble Witch, Bubble Witch 2, Pyramid Solitaire and Diamond Digger. There is one mobile game currently only available in Canada, Sweden, Spain and the Netherlands: Candy Crush Soda Saga.

Kakao games available in Korea[edit]

King currently has two of their games which connect with the Korean app, KakaoTalk, rather than Facebook. They are Candy Crush Kakao[29] and Farm Heroes Kakao.[30]

Awards[edit]

  • Fastest-Growing UK Company – Media Momentum Digital Awards[31]
  • Best Social Game – Candy Crush Saga, International Mobile Gaming Award's 2013[32]
  • Gold Stevie Award – Bubble Witch Saga, 9th Annual International Business Awards (2012)[33]
  • Favorite App - Candy Crush Saga, 2014 Kids' Choice Awards, lost to Despicable Me: Minion Rush

See also[edit]

  • Edge Games, a company which attempted to trademark the word "Edge"

References[edit]

  1. ^ Tomio Geron (26 March 2013). "How King.com Zoomed Up The Social Gaming Charts". Forbes. Retrieved 27 March 2013. 
  2. ^ "King.com from tournament gaming to No. 2 on Facebook". About.King.com. 18 July 2012. Retrieved 12 November 2012. 
  3. ^ "Casual Connect". Retrieved 6 February 2008. 
  4. ^ Sandle, Paul. "Candy Crush Saga leads European charge on Facebook". Reuters. 
  5. ^ a b Yeung, Ken (17 January 2013). "King.com's Candy Crush Saga Ousts Farmville 2 As Top Facebook Game". Thenextweb.com. 
  6. ^ a b c d e "Candy Crush maker King Digital valued at more than $7 bln in IPO". Reuters. 25 March 2014. Retrieved 26 March 2014. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f Ryan Mac (26 March 2014). "Sour Candy: Weak King.Com IPO Robs Chairman And CEO Of Billionaire Status". Forbes. Retrieved 26 March 2014. 
  8. ^ Stock, Kyle (18 February 2014), Highlights From the Candy Crush IPO Filing: 500 Million Downloads and Counting, BusinessWeek.com 
  9. ^ a b c d e Ryan Mac (18 March 2014). "Candy Blush: King.com Cofounder And Investor Gave Up Billions With Early Share Sale". Forbes. Retrieved 26 March 2014. 
  10. ^ a b Geigner, Timothy (24 January 2014). "King Cries Trademark Over The Banner Saga". Retrieved 25 January 2014. 
  11. ^ Lien, Tracey (22 January 2014). "Stoic: Candy Crush creator is hindering Banner Saga sequel". Retrieved 25 January 2014. 
  12. ^ Ransom, Albert. "CandySwipe Open Letter to King regarding trademark". CandySwipe. Retrieved 12 February 2014. 
  13. ^ Lien, Tracey (17 April 2014). "Candy Crush maker King settles trademark disputes with The Banner Saga developer". Polygon. Vox Media. Retrieved 18 April 2014. 
  14. ^ Lien, Tracey (23 January 2014). "Indie developer accuses King of double standard, alleges game was cloned". Retrieved 25 January 2014. 
  15. ^ Geigner, Timothy (24 January 2014). "King denies cloning games, takes down Pac-Avoid". Retrieved 25 January 2014. 
  16. ^ "Our approach to IP", '’King.com '’, 27 January 2014
  17. ^ Dredge, Stuart (24 September 2012). "King.com hails mainstream potential of mobile gaming". The Guardian. 
  18. ^ "King.com bringing Facebook-synchronised version of Bubble Witch Saga to iOS | Bubble Witch Saga news | iPhone". Pocket Gamer. 4 July 2012. 
  19. ^ King's History. Retrieved 9 July 2014.
  20. ^ Victoria Woollaston (14 May 2013). "Candy Crush Saga overtakes Angry Birds as the World's most popular game | Daily Mail". Daily Mail. 
  21. ^ "King.com releases new Candy Crush Saga highlights". Insidesocialgames.com. 29 January 2013. 
  22. ^ Noah Long (18 January 2013). "King's Candy Crush Saga Is Now The Number One Facebook Game". Pulse2.com. 
  23. ^ "King.com is going mobile with Bubble Witch Saga". USA Today. 26 July 2012. 
  24. ^ "Bubble Witch Saga is going mobile". Gamezebo. 27 June 2012. 
  25. ^ http://xeophin.net/en/blog/2013/05/06/puzzle-bobble-clones-bubble-your-bubbles-tobubble
  26. ^ http://www.insidesocialgames.com/2012/05/14/play-cards-the-egyptian-way-with-pyramid-solitaire-saga/
  27. ^ http://toucharcade.com/2014/06/10/candy-crush-soda-saga-soft-launch/
  28. ^ Candy Crush Soda Saga and Bubble Witch Saga 2 Released.
  29. ^ https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.king.candycrushsagakakao
  30. ^ https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.king.farmheroessagakakao
  31. ^ "GP Bullhound Summit 2013 – 2007". Gpbullhoundsummit.com. 23 May 2013. 
  32. ^ "Best Social Game – Candy Crush Saga". Imgawards. 
  33. ^ http://www.stevieawards.com/pubs/iba/awards/408_2657_21737.cfm

External links[edit]