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Thanks to its success on social and mobile platforms, King.com’s flagship casual game Candy Crush Saga has become the most popular game on Facebook, beating out Zynga’s top titles, FarmVille 2 and Texas HoldEm Poker.
Measured in daily active users on AppData, King.com’s Candy Crush Saga has 9.7 million users while FarmVille 2 has 8.8 million and Texas HoldEm Poker has 7.1 million. In monthly active users, Zynga still has the top games with FarmVille 2 at 41.8 million and 35.2 million for Texas HoldEm Poker, compared to 25.8 million for Candy Crush Saga. The game is a simple one where you match three pieces of candy together, but it is played in a fast-action, arcade style. Such games have gathered huge momentum on Facebook in the past year.
Still, the daily active user count is significant because it means more when it comes to monetization of users, said Riccardo Zacconi, the chief executive of London-based King.com, in an interview with GamesBeat.
“We’ve seen tremendous growth on social and mobile,” said Zacconi. “Candy Crush Saga is doing well everywhere. We use our existing user base to launch our new games, and that helps each game grow bigger than the last one.”
King.com has been methodically gaining on Zynga for the past 18 months, and its users now play 5 billion game sessions a month, up from 3 billion just months ago. Its strategy is to launch a game or two a month on its web-based and social network platforms. It tweaks those games until it gets the gameplay and monetization right. And then it takes only the most successful titles over to mobile platforms such as iOS. That formula helped it boost revenues from ads in social games more than tenfold in 2012.
Candy Crush Saga, which was the company’s most popular game on Facebook, released on mobile platforms in mid-November. The title is fully social, with leaderboards, scores, and virtual goods synchronized between mobile and social networking platforms.
“People are playing their games on mobile devices even more than they have on their computers,” said Zacconi. “This complements our ‘play everywhere’ strategy.”
What is remarkable about King.com’s progress is that it has been able to create the top game on Facebook with a team of just 400 employees. By comparison, Zynga has more than 3,000 employees. Zynga is strong on Facebook, but King.com’s biggest gains have come on the mobile side. King.com is active on Facebook’s mobile network, and it uses a variety of mobile ad networks to market its games.
On the advertising front, King.com is running ad campaigns in its social games that have attracted major brands such as Samsung, Procter & Gamble, Macy’s, Nestle, and T-Mobile. The click-through rate on King.com’s ads (such as incentivized video, where a user gets something in exchange for watching a video) is more than 5 percent. About 85 percent of the people who start watching videos complete them. That’s higher than the industry average. King.com appeals mainly to women ages 25 to 55, a key demographic for advertisers.
Candy Crush Saga is listed in the top five grossing iPhone and iPad apps in 10 of the top markets, according to market research firm AppAnnie. King.com has three games in Facebook’s top 10 game apps, including Pet Rescue Saga with 3.2 million daily active users and Bubble Witch Saga with 3.6 million daily active users. Bubble Witch Saga launched in September, 2011, and it was in the top 10 through the whole year.
Julien Codorniou, the head of European gaming partnerships at Facebook, said, “In less than 18 months, King.com has become the second largest game developer on the Facebook platform with 70 million monthly active players. They also built what is the most popular game on Facebook right now: Candy Crush Saga, a game played by almost 10 million people every day, on Facebook.com and on mobile. Only a few technology companies in the world have reached so many people so quickly.”
Candy Crush Saga launched on the web in April 2012. Currently, the game is played over 55 million times a day across both Android and iOS (iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch devices). King.com still has a long way to go before it is done converting its titles from its website to Facebook and mobile platforms. Altogether, it has 150 exclusive games in 12 languages. King.com launches a couple of mobile games a quarter.