King.com, the publisher of Candy Crush Saga, is running a huge TV ad campaign in the U.S. right now. Spots for Candy Crush and other King games, such as Bubble Witch Saga, are appearing all over cable TV. The move comes after the company postponed an expected IPO because Candy Crush was “too successful.” (It wants to prove to investors it is more than a one-hot wonder.)
It’s rare for mobile app companies to advertise in traditional media, because a mark of success in mobile is organic, viral interest in your apps.
There are a few possible explanations for King’s turn to mainstream paid media, some good and one bad:
- King realises a huge number of people got new iPhones, iPads and Android devices for Christmas, and wants to lock those new users in as early as possible before they discover smaller rivals like QuizUp.
- King isn’t stupid, and will continue to run ads as long as they cost less than the in-game revenue Candy Crush creates. Candy Crush gets $US633,000 per day in sales.
- King began an ad campaign in Japan earlier this month. In just a few days, Candy Crush went from not appearing in the top 100 to being the No.1 game in the country. It’s hoping for similar results in the U.S.
- The company is having difficulty sustaining its pre-IPO revenue increases from Candy Crush, and needs to get more users now so that it can demonstrate Candy Crush can still grow in the future. Investors generally like to invest in future potential growth, not in revenue models that are in decline.
We have no visibility into King’s revenues, of course. We do know that Candy Crush is a huge success. But how sustainable is it? This Google Trends chart shows search queries for Candy Crush, Farmville and Angry Birds over time. They all follow a similar pattern. Candy Crush, in blue, appears to be following the same trail.
Whether that translates into declining revenues is a separate issue, of course.
Here’s the Japanese advertising for Candy Crush: