Candy Crush
Candy Crush iTunes

Candy Crush never going to last

THERE'S not much high-fiving going on at King at the moment.

On Tuesday night it announced figures for the second-quarter revealing gross bookings - how much users spend in-game while playing - had dropped nearly $30m from the previous three months to $611.1m.

The problem? Candy Crush - the title that has been labelled the crack cocaine of smartphone games, and which accounts for roughly 60% of King's total revenues - had "declined more than we had expected", according to chief executive Riccardo Zacconi, and its other titles hadn't stepped up to make the difference.

Who could have seen this coming? Quite a lot of people, to be honest. There was no shortage of warnings that King was floating on the basis of one hit game, and that this game wasn't enough to justify a valuation of $6b.

There was also the obvious comparison to be made with fellow games developer Zynga, which launched its own $7b float at the end of 2011 off the back of the success of FarmVille and Words with Friends (remember those?) but currently trades at less than 30% of that.

For its part, King claims it has a formula to follow up Candy Crush with other hits, pointing out that other games contributed 41% of gross bookings in the second quarter, up from 33% in the previous three months.

Whether you believe that's enough depends partly on whether you think creating a hit game is an art or a science.

The market is certainly showing what it thinks. King's five months on the stock exchange has already had their fair share of drama, with the shares dropping more than 15% on their debut before last month moving - albeit briefly - above the $22.5 float price for the first time.

Yesterday the shares fell by as much as a quarter, touching new all-time lows during trading by dropping below $14. Whether King can bounce back depends on what it can pull out of the hat.


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