|Public limited company|
|Traded as||NYSE: KING|
|Industry||Interactive entertainment, social networking service|
|Headquarters||London, United Kingdom|
|Riccardo Zacconi (CEO)|
Number of employees
King Digital Entertainment, formerly known as King.com, is a casual-social games company, and the largest game developer on Facebook. King develops games for the web, for mobile (iOS, Android and Windows Phone), and for Facebook.
King is led by Riccardo Zacconi, who has served in that role since co-founding the company in 2003. Founding partner Melvyn Morris serves as chairman. The company has 667 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.
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. The three joined forces with Sebastian Knutsson, Thomas Hartwig, Lars Markgren and Patrik Stymne to found King in 2003. Originally headquartered in Sweden, King nearly went bankrupt before a Christmas Eve cash infusion in 2003. The company raised $43 million in 2005 by selling a large stake to Apax and Index Ventures. The company finished the year with a profit for the first time and has been profitable each year since. 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. Angel investor and former board member Klaus Hommels sold his similar stake at the same time.
By the first quarter of 2012, King had 30 million unique users. Users jumped to 408 million by the end of 2013. Sales increased from a little over $62 million in 2011 to $1.88 billion in 2013. Sales in 2014 were over $2.6 billion, with Candy Crush generating nearly half of that amount. In Q4 2014, King had 356 million monthly unique users, with 8.3 million of them spending money. While 97.7% of people are playing King’s games for free, the 2.3% that pay are spending an average of $23.42 a month within the games.
Trademark and cloning disputes
In January 2014, King attracted controversy after attempting to trademark the words "Candy" and "Saga" in game titles. 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. Stoic said that the dispute hindered work on a planned sequel to their game. 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. On April 17, 2014, it was reported that King has settled its disputes with Stoic Studio and Runsome Apps.
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". King removed the game from its website, but denied the cloning allegation, stating that they were removing the game "for the avoidance of doubt". 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."
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. To celebrate the debut, Candy Crush mascots took to the New York Stock Exchange.
Shares of King fell 15.6% on the first day of trading, closing at $19. The company trades under the "KING" symbol on the New York Stock Exchange. With approximately 35.6 million shares, Morris is the company's largest shareholder.
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. They also offer two of their games to connect to KakaoTalk in South Korea.
Candy Crush Saga
King's most popular game is Candy Crush Saga, which was launched on King's website in March 2011, which is a Match 3 game. 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. In January 2013, it became the number 1 played game on Facebook. It had over 45 million monthly users in March 2013. By January 2014, it had over 150 million monthly users.
Other current games
Bubble Witch Saga was King's first mobile game, released in July 2012 after its launch on Facebook in September 2011. Bubble Witch Saga and its sequel Bubble Witch 2 Saga are variations of Puzzle Bobble. Papa Pear Saga was released in March 2013 on Facebook, it is a Peggle variation. Pepper Panic Saga was released in January 2014 as a matching game on Facebook. It was ranked the 23rd most played game on Facebook in January 2014. Around 2012, Pyramid Solitaire Saga was soft launched on Facebook. It was released on mobile in May 2014. In June 2014, Candy Crush Soda Saga was soft launched on Facebook and mobile and Bubble Witch 2 Saga was widely released for Android and iOS devices. In November 2014, Candy Crush Soda Saga was widely released on Android and iOS. Alpha Betty Saga launched on Facebook in April 2015. This game is a variation of Bookworm.
App Store games
As of November 2014, King has 10 games available for download on the major app stores. The games are: Bubble Witch Saga, Bubble Witch 2 Saga, Candy Crush Saga, Candy Crush Soda Saga, Diamond Digger Saga, Farm Heroes Saga, Papa Pear Saga, Pepper Panic Saga, Pet Rescue Saga, and Pyramid Solitaire Saga.
Kakao games available in South Korea
- Fastest-Growing UK Company – Media Momentum Digital Awards
- Best Social Game – Candy Crush Saga, International Mobile Gaming Awards 2013
- Gold Stevie Award – Bubble Witch Saga, 9th Annual International Business Awards (2012)
- Favorite App - Candy Crush Saga, 2014 Kids' Choice Awards, lost to Despicable Me: Minion Rush
- Edge Games, a company which attempted to trademark the word "Edge"
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- Stock, Kyle (18 February 2014), Highlights From the Candy Crush IPO Filing: 500 Million Downloads and Counting, BusinessWeek.com
- Ryan Mac (18 March 2014). "Candy Blush: King.com Cofounder And Investor Gave Up Billions With Early Share Sale". Forbes. Retrieved 26 March 2014.
- Candy Crush Saga players spent £865m on the game in 2014 alone. The Guardian. 13 February 2015.
- Geigner, Timothy (24 January 2014). "King Cries Trademark Over The Banner Saga". Retrieved 25 January 2014.
- Lien, Tracey (22 January 2014). "Stoic: Candy Crush creator is hindering Banner Saga sequel". Retrieved 25 January 2014.
- Ransom, Albert. "CandySwipe Open Letter to King regarding trademark". CandySwipe. Retrieved 12 February 2014.
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- "Pepper Panic Saga on Facebook - Facebook". facebook.com.
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- "Play cards the Egyptian way with Pyramid Solitaire Saga". insidesocialgames.com.
- "King Soft Launches 'Candy Crush Soda Saga', the Sequel to the Mega-Popular 'Candy Crush Saga'". Touch Arcade.
- Candy Crush Soda Saga and Bubble Witch Saga 2 Released.
- "Candy Crush Maker Launches Sequel to Hit Mobile Game". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved on 15th November 2014.
- King. "Candy Crush Kakao - Android Apps on Google Play". google.com.
- King. "팜히어로사가 for Kakao - Android Apps on Google Play". google.com.
- "GP Bullhound Summit 2013 – 2007". Gpbullhoundsummit.com. 23 May 2013.
- "Best Social Game – Candy Crush Saga". Imgawards.