King / Candy Crush Saga


King Digital took its time handing out it first earnings report today. But when it got around to it, the company behind Candy Crush delivered good news: Revenue, which had been declining in advance of its IPO this year, has ticked up again. And King is beginning to make the argument that it is not a one-hit wonder.

King generated a staggering $607 million in revenue — up 3x in the last year — and reported adjusted earnings of 61 cents a share, which grew at the same pace. Those numbers beat Wall Street estimates.

But the crucial comparisons are with King’s previous quarter. And those numbers look promising, too.

Revenue, which had declined from Q3 to Q4 last year, started growing again, from $602 million to $606.7 million. But King can boast stronger user growth numbers, which means it is finding new people to play its new games, even as Candy Crush declines. The company has 143 million daily active users, up from 124 million in Q4. And it has 481 million monthly active users, up from 408 million.

Perhaps most important: Candy Crush, which generated 78 percent of King’s business at the end of last year, was only responsible for 67 percent of its business in Q1, as King managed to find new players for games like Farm Heroes Saga.

One notable decline: The number of people spending money on King’s games for virtual power-ups. King says it has 11.9 million “unique payers,” which is down from 12.2 million in Q4, and down from a peak of 13 million in Q3.

That’s crucial, because while King used to sell ads on its games and websites, it got out of that business last year. And since its games are free, it only makes money when a small percentage of its user base pays up.

King says it expected to see that decline, and says those numbers will keep dropping as some Candy Crush players decide they don’t need to spend money on the game anymore. But it notes that the average spend for the players who do pay continues to increase: In Q4, its payers spent an average of $17.32 per month; this quarter, that number was up to $18.02.



Statistically these games never last beyond the fad. As people in general, gain more and more personal social confidence with using their smartphones in public, the insecure folks who huddle on the train and out of panic, pull out their smartphones to play these OCD itch-scratching games in order to avoid making eye contact with the other passengers, realize it isn't as fun as it was anymore, and especially the cost isn't worth it.

I have tried all of them, and after the initial excitement of "Oh so that's how you play it, is that it?? meh..." experience, I usually look for something else to play after the initial $5 odd-average expenditure to "Unlock Hidden Features" or to "Buy more Diamonds", or to "Upgrade your Vehicle", only out of the frustration of having to wait for the "Your upgrade will appear in 1h 22m 45s..." message. I'm at the point now, that if I see that's the model, I don't even bother installing the game.

These business models are all doomed to the inevitable decline in revenue. Angry Birds isn't even mentioned anymore. Because like the console gaming industry has proven, people become numb to "Realistic Graphics" and especially bored with the same old gaming engine. I mean how many time can you use a slingshot! Which is really only that Tank shooting game from the 80's (raise or lower your cannon, increase or decrease your power and hope your guess at parabolic math is dead on).

You are only ever as good as your last game. Proof? Disappointment with Titanfall, which by all accounts should have done much better than it has. 

Gaming needs a Game Change.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 300,468 other followers