Candy Crush Saga maker’s stock price soars 13% while rival Zynga’s shares plunge

The video game industry had more losers than winners Friday. King Digital Entertainment crushed it, as shares of the maker of the popular Candy Crush Saga games for mobile devices soared 13%. The jump in stock price, to $16.70, came a day after the company reported quarterly revenue and profit topped analysts’ estimates as newer titles made up for sliding sales of its older games. Dublin-based King Digital on Thursday also said it plans to buy Z2LIve, a Seattle-area game developer. Shares of rival Zynga, maker of FarmVille and other games played on Facebook and mobile devices, plunged the most in 2 1/2 years on Friday, a day after it forecast revenue that came in below expectations. The San Francisco company, which has struggled to keep its titles relevant with gamers, saw its stock price drop nearly 16%, to $2.24. Meanwhile, a report from research firm NPD Group showed the game industry suffered through a holiday hangover. Overall January retail sales of hardware, software and accessories fell 6% from a year ago. Gains in software, up 5% to $12.4 million, and accessories (up 3% to $5.4 million) couldn’t compensate for a 23% drop in hardware sales, to $54 million, NPD said. The top-selling game in January was the zombie survival thriller Dying Light, followed by Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare and Grand Theft Auto V. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

Ebola virus becomes most popular topic discussed on Facebook in 2014

In a big surprise from Facebook Tuesday, Kim Kardashian’s butt failed to make the social-media giant’s Top 10 most popular topics of 2014 in the U.S. The Ebola virus, which spread panic from West Africa to New York City, triggered the highest chatter in the annual reflection of topics that connected U.S. Facebook users. The medical crisis was followed by the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, which included the most liked and commented on video in the country of former President George W. Bush taking an cold-water drenching from wife Laura. The suicide of comedic actor Robin Williams in August came in third, just ahead of the Super Bowl at Met Life Stadium. Protests that erupted in the wake of the police shooting of black teen Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., was the fifth most popular topic among U.S. Facebook users. The FIFA World Cup tournament won by Germany in July, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the Gaza Strip, the Midterm Elections, missing Malaysia Flight 370 and the ISIS terrorist group rounded out the 10 most popular topics for U.S. Facebook fans. Globally, the list of most discussed topics of Facebook’s 1.3 billion users was slightly different with the World Cup coming out No. 1. The soccer tournament was followed by Ebola, the presidential election in Brazil, Williams suicide and the Ice Bucket Challenge as the Top 5 topics in the world. In subcategories analyzed by Facebook, Beyoncé was the No. 1 chatted about entertainer in the U.S., followed by Pharrell Williams, whose hit “Happy” was the top song on Facebook. While Kardashian came in 10th on the entertainers’ list, “Kim Kardashian: Hollywood” was the fifth most popular video game among Facebook users behind “Cookie Jam,” “Bubble Witch 2 Saga” and “Candy Crush Soda Saga.” NBA superstar LaBron James beat out Continue Reading

Tasty IPO: Maker of Candy Crush Saga cellphone game going public, valued at $5 billion

King, the firm behind hit mobile phone game Candy Crush Saga, is planning a U.S. stock market debut which some analysts think could value it at more than $5 billion and herald a flurry of technology company listings this year. The successful flotation of Twitter in November and a surge in Facebook shares have fueled speculation that a string of technology firms could come to market, including Spotify, AirBnB and Square, as well as King. But some analysts question whether King can keep up its breakneck pace of growth, particularly given the difficulty some other games makers have experienced in maintaining success. Zynga, the maker of Farmville, has seen its share price halve since its late 2011 initial public offering (IPO), while Finland's Rovio has struggled to replicate the success of its 2010 hit Angry Birds. "It's (Candy Crush Saga) a hot game and King is a fast-growing company, but obviously you have precedents for these type of companies that have been affected by the boom and bust cycles of the game market," said Josef Schuster, founder of IPOX Schuster, a Chicago-based IPO research and investment house. Candy Crush Saga, which involves moving candies to make a line of three in the same color, was the most downloaded free app of 2013, and the year's top revenue-grossing app. It has been downloaded more than 500 million times since its launch in 2012. The basic games are free, but players need to pay for add-ons or extra lives. The IPO prospectus offered a first glimpse into King's money-making machine, which generated $1.9 billion in revenues in 2013, or $5 million a day. It posted adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) of $825 million in the year, up from $28.5 million in 2012. By comparison, Zynga and Supercell, the company behind Clash of Clans, both earned around $900 million in revenues last year. Adam Krejcik, an analyst at Eilers Research in California, said the results in Continue Reading

Sour start: Shares of Candy Crush Saga maker King Digital down about 10% from IPO price in midday trading

“Candy Crush Saga” maker King Digital Entertainment’s market debut got off on a somewhat sour note on Wednesday. The video game company’s shares, traded under the symbol “KING,” fell as much as 15% in their first day on the New York Stock Exchange. In midday trading, the stock was down about 10% at $20.15. The company’s highly addictive “Candy Crush” puzzle game has been a huge hit, drawing 97 million daily active users and accounting for more than three-quarters of its yearly sales. King racks up revenues from the free game when people pay for extras like additional lives. Some investors are wary, though, that the days of the game’s rapid growth are over. “Candy Crush is definitely in a downturn,” Francis Gaskins, director of research for, told the Daily News. While King may not be a one-hit wonder, “they have to prove that with their other four games they can make money from them, and they just haven't done that yet,” Gaskins said. They have to prove that with their other four games they can make money from them, and they just haven't done that yet. King’s other games include “Farm Heroes Saga” and “Bubble Witch Saga.” Fellow video game maker Zynga has faced similar issues since its 2011 IPO, as it struggles to show it has staying power beyond its widely popular “FarmVille” Facebook game. King raised $500 million in its initial public offering after pricing its shares at $22.50 each, the middle of its proposed $21 to $24 range. The deal values the company at about $7.1 billion. King reported revenue in 2013 of $1.9 billion, about ten times that of the prior year. But sales shrank to $602 million in the fourth quarter from $621 million in the third, Sterne Agee analyst Arvind Bhatia told the News. “I think revenue concentration in one game and slowing growth are what’s Continue Reading

Candy Crush company multi-billion dollar leader in Facebook games

With 100 million people logging on every day for a fix of its games like Candy Crush Saga, global gamemaker King is showing rivals not just how to hook players, but how to get them to pay. King is the latest among European tech firms like Rovio, creator of mega-hit Angry Birds, and Mojang, behind Minecraft, to make it big on the global gaming scene. But its stunning profitability in an industry littered with firms who failed to make money from popular games has made it a totem for others seeking to emulate its success. King's focus on the multi-billion dollar mobile games market - creating short, addictive puzzles for the fastest-growing part of the gaming industry - has helped it reap profits rare in its field. Though the company does not publish numbers, industry experts have estimated its revenues at $1 million-$3 million a day. Media reports now talk about an IPO valuation of $5 billion after a source recently said the company had filed to go public in the United States. King was set up in Sweden a decade ago by friends working at the same tech startup and got 34 million euros funding from Apax Partners and Index Ventures in 2005. It has been profitable since, a fact that analysts put down to its ability to persuade players to pay several times over to continue the same game. Its "freemium model", in which games are free but players can pay for add-ons or extra lives, has been particularly effective because of the success of Candy Crush, described by some analysts as a global phenomenon. "Candy Crush is one of the biggest mass market consumer games in years," said Adam Krejcik at Eilers Research in California. "They have been profitable for a while. This game has certainly brought them into a new category." The puzzle game, in which players line up gleaming 3-D sweets to knock out jelly, chocolate and liquorice, is available online, on smartphone and Facebook. It has held the No. 1 spot for apps on Facebook for nine months and is Apple's Continue Reading

Candy Crush creator trademarks the word ‘candy’

Videogame maker King, creator of the Candy Crush Saga, a game that has millions of fans around the world, said on Tuesday it had trademarked the word "candy" to protect the game from persistent intellectual property infringements. Created in 2003, King has experienced an explosion in popularity since launching on Facebook in 2011 with its saga games, in which players move through a competitive landscape and pass their friends on the way. Candy Crush Saga was the top downloaded free app for 2013, and the year's top revenue grossing app. It has been downloaded more than 500 million times since its launch in 2012. The company now says it wants to protect its game title from imitators who also use the word "candy". It has obtained a trademark from the European Union, which will apply not only to computer games, but also to areas such as clothes and footwear, the European Commission's trademark office told Reuters. "We don't enforce against all uses of 'candy' - some are legitimate and of course, we would not ask app developers who use the term legitimately to stop doing so," King spokesman Martin Bunge-Meyer said. King is still waiting approval for a similar trademark in the United States, Bunge-Meyer added. King's games appeal to a growing trend for players, more and more of them female, to play puzzle games with their friends in short bursts, especially as games are increasingly played on the move on phones or tablets to kill spare minutes. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

Candy Crush Saga is wildly addictive

LOVED IT: Easy and addictive gameplay, engages you from the start, level variations keep you interested HATED IT: It’ll take your money and you won’t even realize it, repetitive music GRAB IT IF: You’ve enjoyed Bejeweled, PuzzleQuest or Columns So this is what it’s like to have a crush on Candy Crush Saga. I tried to resist it, did so for months, even though a friend who knows my iPad gaming habits pretty well kept telling me it was worth a look. And now, here I am, at 12:38 in the morning, with only half a clue why my Lakers are trailing the Rockets. And it’s mostly because I’ve spent the last three hours dashing (ok, well not dashing, but it’s a nice descriptive verb) through levels in Candy Crush Saga, trying to catch friends, accidentally spending five dollars, and then, at long last, realizing that it’s time to write a review. If you haven’t yet experienced Candy Crush Saga, head to the iTunes App Store right now and download the latest iPad craze. It’ll cost you just a few fingertaps (yup, it’s free), or a few moments of Facebook setup. And then you’ll instantly be tossed into a Candyland-like world of Bejeweled-esque gameplay. Except it’s not just Bejeweled. While the Bejeweled influence is obvious – right down to the way more impressive matches yield powerups – Candy Crush draws inspiration from other games as well. There’s a deliberate, patient pace to this title, much like D3Publisher’s PSP-hit PuzzleQuest games, and there are other little touches that seem culled from such simple games as Snood. Add in the competitiveness and camaraderie that comes with a Facebook connection, and you have a sugar-sweet addiction of a game, even if there are moments of frustration. Games of this ilk, these match-three-in-a-row games, have been around for years, and perhaps none has reached the height of Bejeweled Blitz. But Candy Crush comes close. Continue Reading

‘Pokémon Go’ didn’t unleash a wave of copycats. What happened?

 Notice anything different about this summer? How bout: there are fewer monster catchers around.Last year's viral craze, Pokémon Go, is no longer flooding parks, churches and main streets with smartphone-toting users trying to catch the virtual monsters that overlay onto real-world streets, lawns and benches. That doesn't mean the hit game and its money-making engine have gone away. The game has 65 million monthly active users, according to game developer Niantic Labs. That's a drop from its peak of 100 million in August, based on Apptopia estimates. But it's still high enough to stomp on the fanbase of giants like Candy Crush Saga (61 million) and Clash Royale (8.5 million). It's generated $1.2 billion in revenue, the research firm says, and gave part-owner Nintendo a needed boost to its brand. It's also generated a surge of interest in augmented reality (AR), with tech giants including Apple and Facebook announcing plans to invest in the medium earlier this year. Most smartphone users who aren't chasing Pokémon around the mall may not have used AR. They may soon. “It put validity to this notion augmented reality could be successful on a smartphone,” said Gartner analyst Brian Blau. Rewind to summer 2016: But to some surprise, Pokémon Go ended up being that mythical tech unicorn — a hugely popular game that others just couldn't replicate. Flouting expectations, it didn't result in copycat experiences following the launch of a viral mobile game, such as the flock of apps launched in the wake of mobile gaming phenomenon Flappy Bird's ascent in 2014.John Hanke, CEO of Niantic Labs, attributes this to the complex map data the game requires to discover Pokémon, combined with millions of users searching at once. "It's more like a World of Warcraft than a Flappy Bird," said Hanke during an interview with USA TODAY, referring to the massive Continue Reading

10 things to do at Westgate in Glendale

If you're headed to University of Phoenix Stadium for the Final Four, there are plenty of dining and entertainment options, as well as some shopping and services. Whether it's live music, hands-on arcade fun, or a relaxing spa treatment, it's easy to score a well-rounded day while in Glendale.The district includes more than 20 restaurants, bars and entertainment venues. The newest additions include Dave & Buster's, Hot N Juicy Crawfish, Fractured Prune Doughnuts and Crave Gourmet Waffle Sandwich Creations.All these options are at Westgate Entertainment District, Loop 101 and Glendale Avenue, unless noted otherwise. 623-385-7502, and at Glendale entertainment destination, open since November 2015, features a large, circular sports bar with massive walls of high-definition televisions on either side and lots of seating for sports enthusiasts and gaming fanatics. It holds more than 160 arcade games such as Candy Crush Saga and Angry Birds Arcade. Prizes at the Winner's Circle include choices for kids and adults ranging from giant Pokemon Pikachus to Xboxes to iPads and Beats by Dre headphones.Details: 11 a.m. to midnight Sundays-Thursdays, 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays. 9460 W. Hanna Lane, Glendale. 623-759-7800, since Dec. 20, 2015, this 40,000-square-foot casino is packed with 1,089 gaming machines. The Tohono O'odham Nation purchased the land for its Desert Diamond Casino West Valley near Glendale more than 10 years ago. A larger permanent casino, hotel and convention center complex will be developed within several years.Details: 9431 W. Northern Ave., Glendale. 623-877-7777, Friday and Saturday nights, the lineup ranges from country to rock to pop to jazz to R&B. Upcoming concerts include Come Back Buddy, a three-piece Buddy Holly tribute band; Ratio, a Continue Reading

Fiesta and Cactus Bowl 2016 fan events in metro Phoenix

As most people are getting ready to ring in the New Year, fans of four teams will be preparing for two big football games here in the Valley.The PlayStation Fiesta Bowl at University of Phoenix Stadium on New Year's Eve is home to this year's College Football Playoff, with Clemson University and Ohio State University facing off to snag the coveted spot in the College Football Championship. In downtown Phoenix on Dec. 27, the Motel 6 Cactus Bowl will feature Boise State University battling Baylor University at Chase Field.All four teams have events planned around the games, including tailgates, rallies, watch parties and other meet-ups. Here's a guide to official fan events and places to check out near the venues. Fiesta Bowl Fan Fest Pregame PartyStop here before the big game to mingle and get fired up with pep rallies, cheerleaders and marching bands. There will be interactive games and food and drink booths.Details: Time TBA. Saturday, Dec. 31. Great Lawn, University of Phoenix Stadium, Loop 101 and Glendale Avenue, Glendale. Included with game ticket. Fiesta Bowl Stadium Club Pregame PartyWant a VIP experience? Buy tickets to the Stadium Club for an all-you-can-eat buffet, seven drink tickets, big-screen televisions and live entertainment.Details: Time TBA. Saturday, Dec. 31. Great Lawn, University of Phoenix Stadium, Loop 101 and Glendale Avenue, Glendale. $100. Fiesta Bowl ParadeNow in its 46th year, the parade features colorful floats and balloons, marching bands, equestrian groups, charity organizations and local celebrities.Details: 10 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 31. Central and Montebello avenues, Phoenix. Free general admission, $10 for reserved accessible seating, $25 for bleacher seating. club: Ohio State Alumni Club of Phoenix​. Within the organization is a group called the Young Buckeyes Continue Reading