Candy Crush boss Todd Green on live ops excellence, new games – and that Microsoft takeover


Let’s get the Microsoft takeover question out of the way first, shall we?

When asked about the proposed acquisition – and indeed Microsoft’s desire to open its own app store – King’s Candy Crush general manager Todd Green told us:

“We continue to focus on King and our business, but what I can say is that King is excited about the possibilities the merger could bring.”

“Microsoft has said that an important part of the deal is their ability to expand into the mobile space. We’re thrilled that King could be a part of that potential future although we continue to operate as two separate companies for now.”

Right, back to Candy Crush Saga and King. Most notably, the reason Green is doing media is because of Candy Crush Saga’s 2023 All Stars tournament, in which players compete to win a share of $250,000 and three championship rings worth over $60,000. King has also got rapper Saweetie on promotional duties for the event.

Alongside offering big prize money, Green reels off some big numbers: he says that Candy Crush Saga has been downloaded over three billion times, and King now has 233 million monthly active users across its portfolio (you can assume the vast majority of that figure is Candy Crush Saga players).

He also reiterates that Candy Crush Saga revenue grew approximately 20% year-over-year for every quarter of 2022. So first Green takes the chance to hail his team’s talent for live service games, and drilling into player data.

We are unusually strong at developing and operating live games over time,” says Green. “We balance data-driven analysis and creative excellence. That enables us to listen to our players and create something spectacular for them. Every player’s journey is unique, and our player base is broad.”

It’s been downloaded 3 billion times already, but Candy Crush Saga still gets around 17m installs a month, as we reported earlier this week.

“We work very hard on both the product and the organisation, continually trying to improve both, over many years, with the new ideas and the contribution of very many talented people,” Green continues. “Over time those improvements compound to make up the Candy you see today, and the Candy we have in mind for the future.”

Still, new game launches are something of a rarity for King these days. Its last major launch was Crash Bandicoot: On The Run in March 2021, which was closed down in February 2023 after generating around $4m in IAP revenue from 60m downloads, according to Appmagic.

King has also been running beta tests for kart battler Rebel Riders in Canada, Germany, Indonesia and Malaysia, and will be adding another country to the soft launch at the end of April, according to an announcement on the game’s Discord.

So naturally, Green is a little coy on the subject of new games. “Our strategy has always been about delivering great content and experiences to players, wherever they enjoy playing the most, we can do that through live titles or through new ones,” he says.

Does a lack of new game launches recently reflect a tougher environment overall, then? “Not at all,” says Green. “We’re focused on delivering games that we believe our players will want to play for the long term. We set the quality bar very high, figure out where there are opportunities, and decide how to tackle them.”

“We test a lot of ideas to try to find the best ones,” he continues. “And sometimes we’ve found that the best place to test, then to scale, good ideas is actually to implement them in our live games.”

Green says his team tests new ideas in its existing live titles, and describes its new game pipeline as “focused”.

“When we put a great new experience into Candy, it can reach tens of millions of players on day one. So, we think that our ability to be nimble and continue to implement new ideas will continue to work well no matter the market conditions.”

Indeed, Green describes King’s new games slate as a “focused pipeline”, which suggests there’s not too much incoming. The company is, however, planning its 20th birthday party.

“King is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, which of course makes us look back to the past and forward to the future,” adds Green.

“We are in a fortunate position – with so many beloved games and lots of great ideas still to come the challenge for us is to keep on learning, keep on innovating, keep inventing, and finding new ways to serve our current and future players.”

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