King (company)

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King Digital Entertainment PLC
Public limited company
Traded as NYSEKING
Industry Interactive entertainment, social networking service
Founded August 2003; 12 years ago (2003-08)
Founders Lars Markgren
Melvyn Morris
Patrik Stymne
Riccardo Zacconi
Sebastian Knutsson
Thomas Hartwig
Toby Rowland
Headquarters Dublin and Stockholm, Sweden
Area served
Worldwide
Key people
Riccardo Zacconi (CEO)
Products Video games
Revenue Increase US$ 2.260 billion (2014)
Increase US$ 661.00 million (2014)
Increase US$ 575.00 million (2014)
Number of employees
~1400
Website www.king.com

King Digital Entertainment PLC,[1] also known as King.com, is a social games company. King develops games for the web, for mobile (iOS, Android, Windows Phone), Facebook, and Windows 10.[2][3] King is led by Riccardo Zacconi, who has served in that role since co-founding the company in 2003.[4] Founding partner Melvyn Morris serves as chairman.[5] The company has 1400 employees[6] 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.[7] On November 2, 2015, it was announced that King would be acquired by Activision Blizzard for $5.9 billion and this deal would be complete by Q2 2016.[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.[5] The three joined forces with Sebastian Knutsson, Thomas Hartwig, Lars Markgren and Patrik Stymne to start King in 2003.[9] Originally headquartered in Sweden, King nearly went bankrupt before a Christmas Eve cash infusion in 2003.[4] 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.[4] 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.[5] 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 unique users. Users 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] Sales in 2014 were over $2.6 billion, with Candy Crush generating nearly half of that amount.[10] 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.[10]

Trademark and cloning disputes[edit]

In January 2014, King attracted controversy after attempting to trademark the words "Candy" and "Saga" in game titles.[11] 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.[11] Stoic said that the dispute hindered work on a planned sequel to their game.[12] 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 King's business practices regarding trademarks.[13] On April 17, 2014, it was reported that King has settled its disputes with Stoic Studio and Runsome Apps.[14]

Also in January 2014, game developer Matthew Cox accused King of ripping off his game Scamperghost, saying King's 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".[15] King removed the game from its website, but denied the cloning allegation, stating that they were removing the game "for the avoidance of doubt".[16] 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."[17]

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.[4] To celebrate the debut, Candy Crush mascots took to the New York Stock Exchange.[5]

Shares of King fell 15.6% on the first day of trading, closing at $19.[5] The company trades under the "KING" symbol on the New York Stock Exchange.[4] With approximately 35.6 million shares, Morris is the company's largest shareholder.[5]

Acquisition[edit]

On November 2, 2015, Activision Blizzard announced a unanimously-voted deal to acquire King for $5.9 billion. In the announcement, both companies stated that the acquisition would help boost King's revenue which has been in decline for the last few years through Activision's global marketing reach. The deal is anticipated to be closed in the second quarter 2016.[8][18]

Key Employees[edit]

  • Riccardo Zaconni – Chief Executive Officer
  • Sebastian Knutsson – Chief Creative Officer
  • Hope Cochran – Chief Financial Officer
  • Rob Miller – Chief Legal Officer and Corporate Secretary
  • Alex Dale – Chief Marketing Officer
  • Stephane Kurgan – Chief Operating Officer
  • Thomas Hartwig – Chief Technology Officer
  • Mark Taylor – Chief People Officer

Games[edit]

King games offer synchronized 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 smartphone, to tablet, to Facebook without losing their progress in the game.[19][20] They also offer two of their games to connect to KakaoTalk in South Korea.

Bubble Witch Saga was King's first mobile game, released in July 2012 after its launch on Facebook in September 2011.[21][22] Bubble Witch Saga and its sequel Bubble Witch 2 Saga are variations of Puzzle Bobble.[23] Papa Pear Saga was released in March 2013 on Facebook, it is a Peggle variation.[24] Pepper Panic Saga was released in January 2014 as a matching game on Facebook.[25] It was ranked the 23rd most played game on Facebook in January 2014.[26] Around 2012, Pyramid Solitaire Saga was soft launched on Facebook. It was released on mobile in May 2014.[27] In late 2012 Pet Rescue Saga was launched on Facebook, then on iOS and Android In June 2013, Candy Crush Soda Saga was soft launched on Facebook and mobile[28] and Bubble Witch 2 Saga was widely released for Android and iOS devices.[29] In November 2014, Candy Crush Soda Saga was widely released on Android and iOS.[30] Alpha Betty Saga launched on Facebook in April 2015. This game is a variation of Bookworm.

Candy Crush Saga[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, which is a Match 3 game.[31] 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.[32][33] In January 2013, it became the number one most played game on Facebook.[3][34] It had over 45 million monthly users in March 2013. By January 2014, it had over 150 million monthly users.[35]

List of Facebook games developed by King[edit]

Game Release date Description
Bubble Witch Saga October 27, 2011 Similar to Puzzle Bobble, players aim colored bubbles at a field, clearing bubbles whenever they make three or more interconnecting matches.
Pyramid Solitaire Saga January 14, 2012 Based on the solitaire card game Pyramid, players attempt to clear a board of cards by selecting cards that have are the next highest or lowest value of the card they just selected or dealt themselves.
Candy Crush Saga April 12, 2012 A match-3 swapping tile game but includes special candy tiles that can be created from matches, and unique goals.
Pet Rescue Saga October 11, 2012 Based on SameGame where the player selects matching adjacent boxes of the same color to clear the game board, freeing animals atop the boxes once they reach the bottom.
Papa Pear Saga February 25, 2013 A variation of Peggle where the player shoots projectiles onto a game board to clear various pegs and land the projectiles into scoring containers at the bottom of the game board.
Farm Heroes Saga March 7, 2013 A match-3 swapping tile game to collect various crops to meet each puzzle's quota.
Pepper Panic Saga October 30, 2013 A match-3 swapping tile game to collect hot peppers, where matches are based on both color and size, and a successful match leaves behind a pepper of a larger size.
Diamond Digger Saga March 13, 2014 Another variation of SameGame, but where matching groups of same-colored tiles clears out dirt and rock to create a route for water to flow between the level's entrance and exit.
Bubble Witch 2 Saga May 12, 2014 A sequel to Bubble Witch Saga, following primarily the same gameplay mechanics but adding new level types.
Candy Crush Soda Saga October 20, 2014 Expanding on Candy Crush Saga by adding additional candy tile types, soda-filling levels that causes candy tiles to float instead of sink, and other puzzle objectives.
Alpha Betty Saga April 13, 2015 A tile-matching game following the concept of Boggle and Bookworm where the player attempts to make words from adjacent letter tiles.
Scrubby Dubby Saga July 11, 2015 A tile-matching game similar to Chuzzle where instead of swapping titles, the player slides a row or column to make matches.
Paradise Bay August 6, 2015 A village simulation game in the nature of Farmville, developed by Z2, a studio acquired by King.[36]
Blossom Blast Saga November 5, 2015
Candy Crush Jelly Saga January 7, 2016 Expanding on Candy Crush Saga and Candy Crush Soda Saga, with many levels requiring players to spread jelly across the game board, and adding boss battles with a computer opponent.[37]

iOS games[edit]

As of January 2016, King has 14 games available for download on the iOS App Store. The games are: Blossom Blast Saga, Bubble Witch Saga, Bubble Witch 2 Saga, Candy Crush Saga, Candy Crush Soda Saga, Candy Crush Jelly Saga, Diamond Digger Saga, Farm Heroes Saga, Papa Pear Saga, Pet Rescue Saga, Pyramid Solitaire Saga, Scrubby Dubby Saga, Alpha Betty Saga and "Paradise Bay".

Android games[edit]

As of January 2016, King has 13 games available for download on the Google Play Store. The games are: Blossom Blast Saga, Bubble Witch Saga, Bubble Witch 2 Saga, Candy Crush Saga, Candy Crush Soda Saga, Candy Crush Jelly Saga, Diamond Digger Saga, Farm Heroes Saga, Papa Pear Saga, Pet Rescue Saga, Pyramid Solitaire Saga, Alpha Betty Saga, and Scrubby Dubby Saga.

Windows games[edit]

As of January 2016, King has three games available for download on the Windows Store. The games are: Candy Crush Saga, Candy Crush Soda Saga and Candy Crush Jelly Saga

Kakao games available in South Korea[edit]

King has two of their games that connect with KakaoTalk. They are Candy Crush Kakao[38] and Farm Heroes Kakao.[39]

Awards[edit]

  • Fastest-Growing UK Company – Media Momentum Digital Awards[40]
  • Best Social Game – Candy Crush Saga, International Mobile Gaming Awards 2013[41]
  • Gold Stevie Award – Bubble Witch Saga, 9th Annual International Business Awards (2012)[42]
  • 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. ^ Sandle, Paul. "Candy Crush Saga leads European charge on Facebook". Reuters. 
  3. ^ a b Yeung, Ken (17 January 2013). "King.com's Candy Crush Saga Ousts Farmville 2 As Top Facebook Game". Thenextweb.com. 
  4. ^ 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. 
  5. ^ 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. 
  6. ^ "NYSE:KING". NYSE. Retrieved 17 August 2015. 
  7. ^ Stock, Kyle (18 February 2014), Highlights From the Candy Crush IPO Filing: 500 Million Downloads and Counting, BusinessWeek.com 
  8. ^ a b "Activision Blizzard to Buy King Digital, Maker of Candy Crush". The New York Times. 2 November 2015. Retrieved 3 November 2015. 
  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 Candy Crush Saga players spent £865m on the game in 2014 alone. The Guardian. 13 February 2015.
  11. ^ a b Geigner, Timothy (24 January 2014). "King Cries Trademark Over The Banner Saga". Retrieved 25 January 2014. 
  12. ^ Lien, Tracey (22 January 2014). "Stoic: Candy Crush creator is hindering Banner Saga sequel". Retrieved 25 January 2014. 
  13. ^ Ransom, Albert. "CandySwipe Open Letter to King regarding trademark". CandySwipe. Retrieved 12 February 2014. 
  14. ^ Lien, Tracey (17 April 2014). "Candy Crush maker King settles trademark disputes with The Banner Saga developer". Polygon. Vox Media. Retrieved 18 April 2014. 
  15. ^ Lien, Tracey (23 January 2014). "Indie developer accuses King of double standard, alleges game was cloned". Retrieved 25 January 2014. 
  16. ^ Geigner, Timothy (24 January 2014). "King denies cloning games, takes down Pac-Avoid". Retrieved 25 January 2014. 
  17. ^ "Our approach to IP", King.com, 27 January 2014
  18. ^ "Candy Crush creator gets gobbled by Activision for $5.9B - CNET". CNET. Retrieved 2015-11-03. 
  19. ^ Dredge, Stuart (24 September 2012). "King.com hails mainstream potential of mobile gaming". The Guardian. 
  20. ^ "King.com bringing Facebook-synchronised version of Bubble Witch Saga to iOS | Bubble Witch Saga news | iPhone". Pocket Gamer. 4 July 2012. 
  21. ^ "King.com is going mobile with Bubble Witch Saga". USA Today. 26 July 2012. 
  22. ^ "Bubble Witch Saga is going mobile". Gamezebo. 27 June 2012. 
  23. ^ http://xeophin.net/en/blog/2013/05/06/puzzle-bobble-clones-bubble-your-bubbles-tobubble
  24. ^ "King.com rebrands as King, launches 2 new Facebook games". insidemobileapps.com. 
  25. ^ "Pepper Panic Saga on Facebook - Facebook". facebook.com. 
  26. ^ "Top 25 Facebook apps: January 2014 — King’s other Saga games rising". insidefacebook.com. 
  27. ^ "Play cards the Egyptian way with Pyramid Solitaire Saga". insidesocialgames.com. 
  28. ^ "King Soft Launches 'Candy Crush Soda Saga', the Sequel to the Mega-Popular 'Candy Crush Saga'". Touch Arcade. 
  29. ^ Candy Crush Soda Saga and Bubble Witch Saga 2 Released.
  30. ^ "Candy Crush Maker Launches Sequel to Hit Mobile Game". The Wall Street Journal.  Retrieved on 15th November 2014.
  31. ^ King's History. Retrieved 9 July 2014.
  32. ^ Victoria Woollaston (14 May 2013). "Candy Crush Saga overtakes Angry Birds as the World's most popular game | Daily Mail". Daily Mail. 
  33. ^ "King.com releases new Candy Crush Saga highlights". Insidesocialgames.com. 29 January 2013. 
  34. ^ Noah Long. "King's Candy Crush Saga Is Now The Number One Facebook Game". 
  35. ^ "So What is King's Contribution to the Games Industry, Anyway?". USgamer.net. 
  36. ^ Cook, John (August 6, 2015). "Z2 launches first title under King Digital, a new simulation game dubbed Paradise Bay". GeekWire. Retrieved January 7, 2016. 
  37. ^ Kamen, Matt (January 6, 2016). "Candy Crush Jelly Saga coming to Android, iOS, and Windows Store". Wired UK. Retrieved January 7, 2016. 
  38. ^ King. "Candy Crush Kakao - Android Apps on Google Play". google.com. 
  39. ^ King. "팜히어로사가 for Kakao - Android Apps on Google Play". google.com. 
  40. ^ "GP Bullhound Summit 2013 – 2007". Gpbullhoundsummit.com. 23 May 2013. 
  41. ^ "Best Social Game – Candy Crush Saga". Imgawards. 
  42. ^ http://www.stevieawards.com/pubs/iba/awards/408_2657_21737.cfm

External links[edit]