Appealing to Players
Creating games that attract a diverse audience, King’s titles are easy to learn but challenging to master. Great to pick up and play for short periods of time, fans can enjoy the games anywhere; they are accessible to anyone and on any device. A player can start on an iPhone and switch to a tablet or computer and still have their progress synchronized across platforms. Understanding the importance of accessibility is due to the experience King possesses in the gaming space.
As a leader in mobile gaming and gaming in general, King knows how to reach the mobile consumer efficiently. The company has figured out the science of not only bringing users to its games, but also keeping them there and introducing them to new games.
“Cross promoting new games is key,” Kalborg says. “We have a reputation in the market, and we’ve been able to find experienced people and technology that allows us to excel in the digital world.”
Overall, King’s goal is to continuously reinvest in its games and franchises, building long-term titles. In fact, it will soon launch a Candy Crush sister title called Candy Crush Soda Saga. The company also invests into territorial expansion. This summer, King announced that a localized version of Candy Crush Saga is available for players in China, integrated with Tencent’s Mobile QQ and Weixin social network. Tencent is a leading provider of comprehensive Internet services in China.
“What we also need to do is invest in content development,” Kalborg says. “That is key to expansion in any territory, as we must have the best, coolest games.”
Extending the Brands
King has 345 million unique monthly users, and its games are played a billion times per day. Already possessing a strong global presence and engaged in ongoing brand building, King feels a strong licensing effort can also help achieve its goals. In North America, King has partnered with Striker Entertainment, a premier licensing agency that represents many top entertainment properties. Striker’s industry expertise, innovation and creativity can help King create world-class licensing programs that can best position its properties.
For King, licensing is mainly about brand building and long-term relationships with its audience. Although the revenue-generation aspect of licensing is appealing, the company believes that relevant licensed products can help it reach a wide target audience.
“We will not have 500 licensees; instead we’ll have maybe 100 on a global scale,” Kalborg says. “The goal is to develop products that are true to the brand alongside the game titles.”
“King has an objective of maintaining and sustaining a long-term brand development exercise and to create great products that people talk about,” Striker President Russell Binder adds. “We are helping them find the right categories that target the deeply engaged Candy Crush player, while outlining a retail strategy that services that fan base.”
Different from some gaming brands, King’s properties are not targeted at kids. Instead, the target demographic is heavily female in the 20 to 50 age range. That means that focusing on toy licenses or simply slapping a logo on a t-shirt won’t do. Instead, targeted categories include lifestyle, fashion and décor.
“We want to embrace fashion and embed the brand into what is fashionable,” Binder says. “We are launching the program with fashion tops and bottoms, room and home décor, and health and beauty items. It’s all about targeting the right product for the Candy Crush consumer.”
The quality of the licensees, along with the size of King’s audience, can help its brands overcome many of the challenges in the modern retail world. Striker is helping King establish relationships with category leaders that have an inherent appeal to retailers. In addition, titles like Candy Crush saga have massive audiences. For example, the Candy Crush Facebook page has over 70 million fans.
“King allows for carefully selected merchandise to be shared with that audience,” Binder says. “We can communicate directly to the fans about a product line and where to purchase it, and retailers love that.”
“We want to work closely with licensees and retailers,” Kalborg adds. “We want to drive traffic for them and bridge the gap between the digital space and brick and mortar.”
In the years ahead, King will continue to communicate about the evolution, expansion and introduction of its titles. It will strive to ensure that its games resonate with audiences, licensees and retailers and have mass engagement across multiple platforms and product categories. Ultimately, both King and Striker feel that titles such as Candy Crush are more than just a fad. Each believes the games have created a deeply engaged audience. As new content and products hit the market, King and Striker believe the games can keep the audience engaged for years.
“We must be able to sit down with retailers and share who we are and what is in the pipe,” Kalborg says. “We must be able to show how we are constantly reinvesting in our brands.”
“King can elevate their brands in an impactful way because of their ability to leverage their massive network and to speak directly to players and fans,” Binder says. “King understands that they are a gaming company first, but that they are also developing global brands. Licensing efforts must focus on creating products and experiences that elevate the brand and keep users engaged regardless of touch point.”