King had a mixed third quarter, but it continues to bleed players as its older hits lose their luster.
All three of King’s self-identified “key performance indicators” (KPI) are officially trending downward even as Activision gets ready to sign a $5.9 billion check to acquire the mobile giant. The Candy Crush company’s daily average players (DAU) were down 3 percent year-over-year to 133 million last quarter. Monthly active players (MAU) dropped back below 500 million to 474 million, which represents a 4 percent year-over-year dip. And monthly unique players (MUU) are now 330 million, which is down 5 percent from the same period in 2014. All of these metrics are also down for the second quarter in a row and are at a 12-month low. What this really means is that fewer people are opening up their browsers to play Candy Crush and other King games on Facebook even as the company continues to find more mobile players.
For King, most of the blame goes to its biggest hit, Candy Crush Saga.
“The year over year decreases in MAUs and DAUs were due to declines in our more mature games, particularly Candy Crush Saga, partially offset by the introduction of additional games, notably Candy Crush Soda Saga,” reads the King earnings press release.
Most of that decline came from the Web as Facebook gaming continues to evaporate. King explained that its games still saw year-over-year growth in its number of players on mobile, but that doesn’t make up for the exodus of Facebook fans.
But mobile growth is primarily coming from getting the same people to install and play multiple King games. That’s because the publisher’s monthly unique players is actually falling both on mobile and on the Web — although King says that it is mostly losing its “less-engaged players.” And while this is a problem, the company says it is stabilizing its player base.
“MUUs declined at a slower rate than in second quarter 2015,” reads the press release. “Which we believe reflects our efforts to improve retention and engagement through continuous game optimization and implementation of live ops in our franchise games, as well as recent game launches.”
Of course, all of this isn’t news to Activision. The Call of Duty publisher has likely gone over King’s books multiple times before agreeing to spend billions to acquire it. So if Activision knows that King is slowly losing traction, it likely doesn’t see that as a problem, and that’s because — despite the KPIs — King is still making money. And it’s possible that it will only make a lot more under the Activision umbrella.