Big marketing beats and AI-powered events are helping King hit record revenue


It’s easy to overlook King’s importance to Activision Blizzard, especially after all the hullabaloo around Call of Duty in the last year.

King reported record revenue in Activision Blizzard’s Q2 2023 financial results, showing year-on-year net revenue growth of 9% to $747m, an all-time high. King’s MAU was down YoY slightly from 240m last year to 238m.

Split out by label, King accounted for 31% of Activision Blizzard’s net revenue in Q223, and 36% for the first half of 2023 – numbers that would be higher were it not for the spectacular launch of Diablo IV, an event 11 years in the making.

King’s slice of Activision Blizzard’s financials would have been bigger were it not for Diablo IV’s monster launch.

And King’s 2022 acquisition of AI firm Peltarion appears to be bearing fruit – so much so it was namechecked in Activision’s Q2 financials.

“Peltarion’s machine learning technology is helping King to accelerate the production and testing of Candy Crush live operations and to offer more relevant game content to players,” the company said. “King is now working on additional use cases involving generative AI to assist its developers in accelerating their workflow.”

And on top of those AI-powered live ops, celebrities and musicians are increasingly visible within the game. King recently ran a ‘Barbie Quest’ event that included featurettes with the film’s director and talent. It has also been promoting a collab with fashion designer Christian Cowen, who created a bizarre Candy Crush-themed ‘wearable seat’.

And from March through to May, it enlisted rapper Saweetie to promote a Candy Crush All Stars Tournament, the winner of which won $100,000 and a lavish championship ring.

“We’ve worked on some really exciting partnerships recently that have continued to push the boundaries of what people would expect from a mobile game,” King marketing VP Luken Aragon told us.

“The [All Stars] tournament really helps to drive engagement across our community. 300 billion candies were collected throughout the tournament, with 1.1 billion main menu views.”

Pop stars that might appeal to a typical Candy Crush player are also part of the mix. As part of a Candy Cup tournament that ran across September and October last year, singer Meghan Trainor launched her new music video, Made You Look, in Candy Crush Saga before it hit streaming and video services.

“This saw incredible engagement securing impressive in-game impressions and unique visits to the exclusive content hub which exceeded our expectations,” says Aragon. “We also saw a huge amount of engagement on the in-game music video.”

A similar tie-in with the Jonas Brothers went live in May, which saw the band debut two tracks in the game as part of a push for their new album. A Music Tour Bus series of live ops saw “a huge amount of engagement,” says Aragon.

“These types of partnerships allow us to combine people’s passions for both gaming and music,” he continues. “The artists benefit from the reach of our games and the potential to attract new fans and our players benefit from exciting new experiences that go beyond the core gameplay.”

King is clearly doing plenty to keep its existing 238m MAU happy, of course. But it hasn’t launched a new game for over two years, and its last new release, Crash: On the Run, was shut down in February. Kart racer Rebel Riders has been in soft launch for over a year, and remains a very low-key project.

So we asked Aragon to wrap-up with his thoughts on releasing new games in the current climate:

King’s last global launch was Crash On The Run back in March 2021. The game has since been closed down.

“The gaming industry was traditionally all about the launch cycle,” he added. “You launched a new game, it peaked, it declined and then you launched a new game. But over the last decade, we’ve started to think differently about what success means for our games.”

“It’s not always about looking for the next big thing but also thinking about how we can make our existing games the best that they can be. In terms of launching new games, there’s nothing I can say on this right now, but we are continually testing new ideas and features.”

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