Candy Crush Saga
Less than two years from its first release, Candy Crush Saga has become the first game that ranked as No. 1 on iOS, Android and Facebook at the same time. On Facebook alone, the Candy Crash Saga has 150 million active monthly users according to Facebook App Center. Players are so addicted to it that they have left their children stranded at school, abandoned housework and even injured themselves as they try to reach new levels of the game (Docketerman, 2013). The game was developed by King, a ten-year-old firm from Stockholm with studios in London and three other cities. Formerly known as King.
This company thrives on developing mobile games for Facebook and mobile device users. King is founded by Apax Partners, Index Ventures and Klaus Hommels. All three of these organizations have provided King with a total of 50 million dollars to date. Since its first release on April 2012, Candy Crush has been installed 500 million times across Facebook, iOS and Android devices as of November 2013 (“Candy Crush Saga”, n.
d. ). The rules of Candy Crush are simple. Players move a variety of brightly colored sweets around a grid and line up at least three of the same sweet in a row or on a column.
Every time a row or column is completed, the line explodes, making way for more sweets to drop in. More details on the game itself can be found in the “Key Success Factors” section. The mobile game industry is expected to grow at a compounded rate of 6. 7%, and the market value is forecasted to reach $86. 1 billion by 2016 according to Market researcher Newzoo (2013). One of the key drivers is the growing usage of the mobile devices. According to Gartner (October 2013), mobile phone shipments are projected to grow by 3. 7%, with a volume of more than 1. 8 billion units.
Meanwhile, traditional PCs including desktops and notebooks are forecasted to decline by 11. 2% from 2102. Tablet shipments are expected to grow 53. 4% in 2013, with shipments reaching 184 million units. If this trend continues, game companies will invest less in PC-based games and more in mobile games. Given the limited development resources of game companies, the supply of mobile gaming would outweigh that of PC- based gaming and influence how PC-based games are designed. As a result, many few big game companies such as Zynga have developed a mobile first strategy. There are mainly three types of business models for mobile gaming.
The first is a “freemium” business model, which involves free apps with in-app purchases. The other two models are paid apps with or without in-app purchases. A Distimo report (Schoger 2013) showed that the freemium model takes the lead in terms of revenue generation. The proportion of in-app purchase games increased from 77% to 92% in the Apple store and from 89% to 98% on Google Play. However, there are noticeable differences across countries. For example, in the App Store, paid apps occupy 4% of the market share in Unites States, while the same indicator is 1% in Japan.
The mobile game developers should consider incorporating market-based strategies in order to maximize revenues in each one. Clearly, the in-app purchase games are the main source of revenue in the market, but the strategy with regards to the timing of the purchase is key to the success of Candy Crush. This will also be further discussed in the “Key Success Factors” section. Although King has been the top rank in the Apple Store and Google Play Store by generating revenues at a rate of 1-3 million dollars per day, the market share leaders in this industry are frequently leapfrogging one another in ranking.
Many games are popular for a while, but then are quickly forgotten. Angry Birds, Draw Something and Temple Run were all once the most popular games but have been overshadowed by newer releases. Keeping the momentum of the Candy Crush Saga is a key challenge for King. This report will highlight in detail why Candy Crush has been so successful, as well as some recommendations to help it retain its top position in the mobile gaming industry. Key Success Factors
We have identified four main contributors to Candy Crush’s success: the nature and design of the game, the company’s marketing strategy, the simplicity of payment, and its diversification. Nature and Design of the Game First of all, the game itself is very well designed and attractive. Every detail is well polished. The design of the game and the tutorial at the beginning makes it easy to start with for almost anyone. Its colorful theme makes it appealing to women, while the difficulty of the game makes it challenging for men. The game has a level cap, but very few people have played to the end.
Furthermore, the developers are creating more levels on an ongoing basis. Every 10-15 levels are gathered as one “episode”. Each episode has a different theme, and starts and ends with a short scene to motivate users to go to the next chapter. There are many games of this kind in the market, but the unique aspect about Candy Crush’s design is the variety of its challenges. Each episode has a specific challenge such as eliminating all the shadow or knocking down all the chocolate. It is the little things that people at King added to this game’s technology that make it special and attractive to users.
Difficulty is another aspect that King got right on the technology side. This game is seriously challenging. It is common to see people stuck at one level for days. As a result, there are blogs and forums on many websites where people discuss how to break each level. Videos of walkthrough are easy to find on YouTube. In spite of the difficulty, it is easy to recover from failure, preventing users from simply giving up. In addition, the sound effects and voices like “sweet” are encouraging and motivating to users. When the user feels good about him/herself, they are more likely to keep playing.
These features are used to attract, and more importantly, retain more users. Marketing Strategy The second key contributor of Candy Crush’s success is its marketing strategy. Every player has five lives to start with. After you use up all the lives, there are two options. One is to wait 30 minutes for the system to recover one life automatically. In other words, the waiting time for full life is over two hours. The other way is to connect the game to your Facebook account and ask friends on Facebook to “give” you a life. Most people choose this option because it is usually quicker.
Time is especially important if the user is in the mood of playing, knowing that they can pass the level if given another chance to try. As a result, Candy Crush essentially gets free advertisement on Facebook. If you have at least one friend who plays this game, then the “news” section on Facebook would show something like “your friend needs your help”. Curiosity drives people to find out what their friends are playing, thus they download the game and start playing as well. In the game, only so many levels are free to play.
The number of free levels is just enough to attract people to continue playing but not too many that people would only play those free ones without going any further. To unlock a new episode, one will also need Facebook friends’ help. The app sends notifications to your contacts to unlock a new level for you, with your permission of course. Also, Candy Crush publishes your progress of the game for you on Facebook. It shows friends your progress, and allows you to check theirs. This not only creates awareness of the game among friends, but also creates a sense of competition.
With this marketing strategy, Candy Crush has advertisement all over Facebook pages for free. King even brought Candy Crush to TV advertisement, making it is the first mobile game to promote on TV. In spite of there being no metric to indicate how much revenue is brought in due to TV advertisement (since the app is free to download), this certainly increases awareness of the game. This increase in number of downloads eventually translates to in-app purchases and more revenue. In-App Purchase System The third contributor to success is the in-app purchase system.
As an alternative to asking for help from Facebook friends, you can also choose to pay to avoid all the hassle. It is usually $0. 99 to purchase a full set of five lives or to unlock a new episode. This purchase entirely eliminates the wait time. Moreover, there are some tools that can be purchased to help pass the game, usually at $1. 99. Certain levels are extremely difficulty. Without help of these tools, it is very difficult to advance beyond a certain point. This is intentionally priced such that a typical user does not think twice before purchasing.
That being said, with so many opportunities for purchases, the money spent per user accumulates. This is how Candy Crush makes most of its revenue. Diversification Lastly, Candy Crush retains players by its availability on all kinds of platforms: PC, iPhone, iPad, and Android devices. Using one Facebook account, you can synchronize across all devices. The intent is to allow the user to play anywhere at any time, picking up right where he/she left off. You can continue playing on your iPhone where you left off on computer. As an added benefit to using Candy Crush on multiple platforms, lives do not sync across devices.
Once you change platforms, you can continue playing with a full set of lives. That encourages cross-platform playing and users become more addicted because of the ease of availability. Multi-platform compatibility isn’t the only way that Candy Crush diversifies itself. Being free of violence and adult material allows it to be suitable for all ages. Furthermore, studies have shown that this makes Candy Crush more attractive to women than men. According to the game’s creators, King. com, women aged between 25 and 55 are the demographics that are most loyal to the game (Foster, 2013).
The competitive aspect of the game is catered towards the male demographic as well. Alternatives King has created a profitable game in Candy Crush Saga. Any business that relies on technology needs to continue to innovate to remain a significant force in its industry. Candy Crush has performed well, but there still exists the possibility for improvement. As we have discovered, there are multiple possible areas of improvement. Continue current development efforts Games that have success are able to keep the users coming back, and enjoying themselves.
Candy Crush has recently expanded its game, and started television advertising in Asia. We recommend that the makers of Candy Crush continue to their marketing campaign, as well as their efforts to further grow and develop the game. This appears to be low risk, although this option alone may not provide the innovation necessary to maintain relevance. King needs to do more than the status quo. Pursue advertising revenue By principle, Candy Crush has not included banner ads in the game.
While users enjoy this, we see an opportunity of growth in this area. Now that Candy Crush has established itself as an addictive game that is popular worldwide, this option becomes quite promising. Facebook increased its revenue by allowing advertisements while continuing to grow. Candy Crush users are already addicted, so we are not concerned about losing retention. Furthermore, King can use this opportunity to market its other games, recycling the benefit back into the company. The ideal method would be to utilize data from Facebook users to do targeted ads. It is likely that King already has this data due to links with Facebook and other sites. This has the potential to dramatically increase revenue.
Another potential option is to partner with companies that make candy to generate profit from product placement in the game. The possible drawback of this option is that existing customers may be dissatisfied. This change could lead to complaints or people finding other ad-free games. Though Facebook continued to grow despite increasing advertisements, this does not mean Candy Crush will experience the same growth. Adjust the luck involved in the game Candy Crush levels start out fairly easy to complete. They get harder as you advance, but instead of increasing the skill required, it becomes more focused on luck.
You can put a good combination together, and still fail. It is true that this encourages the user to purchase lives as they lose them more often, but some users may be deterred from the game if they feel that minimum skill is involved. Reducing the luck required in higher levels could reduce the churn and keep users invested longer, which would in turn increase monetization and popularity. The downside of doing this is again a potential loss of customers, old and new. Current customers enjoy being able to play a game that doesn’t require too much thought.
There is a risk that increasing the skill in an effort to attract different customers could turn current users off. Capture new customers While we have acknowledged that Candy Crush does a good job diversifying its user base, again there exists a potential for improvement in this category. Candy Crush has done an excellent job at focusing on the 30-45 female market, while attracting others. There does exist some negative response to Candy Crush, citing that it “tricks” people into spending money once they are emotionally invested in the game. To combat this, and to continue to innovate, King should introduce new games that target different demographics.
These new games should require more strategy than Candy Crush, and be accompanied with in-depth storylines. Incorporating a story into new games is another effective way to keep the users engaged and enhance their overall experience. Furthermore, as mentioned in the previous section, the mobile gaming industry is very volatile in terms of which games are popular. Historically, games that become prevalent do not experience long-term popularity. Keeping that in mind, it would be foolish for King to invest too much in the Candy Crush game itself.
Developing other games will allow King to prepare itself for the very realistic possibility that Candy Crush loses its edge in time. Making other games before the popularity is lost is crucial in order to harness the marketing capability of Candy Crush. Franchise the app Successful games in the past have created a market for non-digital products, such as angry birds stuffed animals. It appears that King wants to do this, as they have “recently inked a partnership deal to sell Candy Crush-branded socks” (Wortham, 2013). It is worthwhile to explore this type of branding and awareness.
The risk of this approach is that it may not increase revenue as desired. Since this is not King’s specialty, it may produce an underwhelming product or be unsuccessful in marketing. Although Angry Birds appears to have been successful, this success may not be replicated by Candy Crush. There is a high cost involved, and this may be a sunk cost at the point they would realize it isn’t worth it. Penetrate to the Asian market Asia has the fastest growth of mobile app revenue. According to Distimo’s report, Asia has become a big force in the mobile game space, accounting 41% of the entire global revenue in December 2013.
The North American market has shrined to 31%. The top three countries in mobile app revenue growth are South Korea, China and Japan (Schoger 2013). Candy crash only ranks No. 47 in China and No 17 in Japan as for the iPhone revenue generation. To capitalize the Candy Crush Sage game in the fast growing mobile game market, King need to make strategic efforts to penetrate the Asia market effectively. These efforts include partnering with local mobile providers and add local characteristics to the game. Analysis and Recommendation We explored the 6 alternatives according to 4 metrics.
These metrics include: Potential Revenue, Cost, Risk Level, and Ease of Implementation. We ranked the options from 1-6, with 1 being the most favorable, versus 6 as the lease favorable for each factor. Our table is shown below. RecommendationPotential RevenueCostRisk LevelEase of ImplementationTotal Continue Current Development Efforts532111 Pursue Advertising Revenue414211 Adjust Luck625417 Capture New Customers153514 Franchise the App366621 Penetrate Asian Market241310 Our recommendation is for Candy Crush Saga to Penetrate the Asian market.
After our analysis above, we determined that this is the best option going forward for King. It should also be noted that King could pursue many of these alternatives at once, as they could all result in sustainability and success. As discussed, there is room for further growth in this region. Conclusion Candy crush is one of the most successful mobile games of all time. As the only application to ever be leading the market ion iOS, Android, and Facebook at the same time, it has enjoyed great success through its design, marketing strategy, in-app purchase system, and diversification.
Our challenge was to find an attractive course of action for a venture that is already so successful. Through the analysis of six recommendations, including the status quo, we determined that the best course of action is to further infiltrate the Asian market. We have also made it clear that many alternatives can be pursued at the same time, so there is no single clear-cut path for Candy Crush to pursue. Having seen the relatively short-lived success of other top-selling mobile apps in the past, King must seize this opportunity and maximize its profits while it can.