One of the longest, most expensive and complicated movements in the video game industry has been the purchase for 68.7 billion dollars (65.182 million euros) by Microsoft of Activision Blizzard and King. Until 20 months after the announcement of the acquisition, the operation has not received the last approval needed to be carried out, that of the CMA, the UK’s antitrust body.
The relevance of Activision and Blizzard, two heavyweights in the industry, has relegated to the background in the media focus to the second surname of this union, King, but the company is a true colossus in mobile games thanks to its video game series Candy Crush Saga, Candy Crush Soda Saga and Farm Heroes Saga. According to data from the company itself, only the first of them has Raised $20 billion (€18.9 billion) in revenue since launching in April 2012 first on Facebook and then on mobile platforms, not bad for a free game.
From browser games to Facebook
King, who celebrates its twentieth anniversary this year, I was born in Stockholm (Sweden). When businessman Melvyn Morris sold the dating website uDate.com, two of his workers, Riccardo Zacconi and Toby Rowland, teamed up with Sebastian Knutsson, Thomas Hartwig, Lars Markgren and Patrik Styme, with whom Zacconni had worked at the Swedish portal Spray Network. , one of those affected by the bursting of the dotcom bubble. With Morris as president and Zacconi and Rowland as co-directors, Midasplayer.com was born. a page to play video games in the browser in which players competed to see who could finish a game first by betting money.
What a priori was a good idea It was not profitable initially. The company went through bad times those first Christmases that it overcame thanks to a financial injection from Apax Parners and Index Ventures. This allows you to move forward and profit in 2005, when it changed its name to King. The great success was knowing how to take advantage of the change that occurred around 2009 thanks to social networks when users began to go from playing in the browser to doing it within Facebook, a trend led by Zynga with its Farmvillebut King knew how to get on that train in time.
Midasplayer, testing ground
When the number of players on his pages began to drop, King decided use Midasplayer.com as a testing ground to see which games could work well on the social network and how they could monetize them. The majority of players played for free, others paid with microtransactions to save time and others did so to access tournaments.
He match 3 Miner Speed In 2011, it was the first King game that could be played on cross platforms: Facebook and mobile. and it arrived that same year Bubble Witch Saga. That saga The title implies that the player had to complete the objective of the levels in a certain number of turns and that what he played had a progression that encouraged him to play again.
The goose that lays the golden eggs
The formula worked and with his next game,Candy Crush Saga King found a goose that lays the golden eggs that has exceeded 5 billion downloads, It was a social revolution (everyone played candy crush everywhere), opened video games to a new audience and meant the takeoff of a new platform, mobile phones. A fact that shows the extent of its success is the fact that in the second month of its launch, King raised a million dollars in a single day, almost all thanks to Candy Crush Saga. Players of the series have completed more than 5 billion levels in total in these 11 years.
The success of the game Not only was it due to a friendly appearance and quick game design, Other factors that were key are as disparate as their appearance in the video of the song Gentleman by Psy (Korean singer then very fashionable for the song Gangnam Style) and the refinement of data analysis, of how people played.
The desEsports Extrasof mobile games was subordinated to the metrics that converted the player’s experience into numbers in number of games, their duration, how they were played and under what conditions the player spent the most money. For this, the data scientist They joined the development teams to that the levels were difficult without being frustrating and the player would be more inclined to pay to be able to play more moves or other advantages.
A tournament with 250,000 dollars in prizes
The phenomenon of Candy Crush Saga It has tempered over the years but it is still a very popular game. In 2023, a Candy Crush Saga All Stars tournament has been held with $250,000 in prizes. King will soon release level 15,000 designed by the latest members to join the team.
King has since launched other series – although none have achieved the same as his star game – such as Candy Crush Soda Saga, Farm Heroes Saga, Bubble Witch, Diamond Digger Saga either Papa Pear Saga.
In 2016, Activision bought King for $5.9 billion. (5.6 billion euros), hence it is now part of the package formed by Activision, Blizzard and King. King currently has headquarters in London, England, Stockholm and Barcelona, and offices around the world. Its games have more than 200 million monthly active players.