King Digital Entertainment, a digital-gaming provider perhaps best known for its Candy Crush Saga title, has filed papers with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to go public.
King's statement with the SEC is exceedingly short on details, due mainly to the company still needing to decide how many shares will be offered, who will be offering those shares, and when it will go public. However, the filing statement does indicate that nearly 120 million shares were outstanding as of 2013. It's not clear how many of those will be offered to the public. If King follows through with the IPO, its shares will trade on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol "KING."
Still, the filing peels back the curtain on just how big a casual-gaming company can be. According to its filing, King Digital generated $1.9 billion in revenue last year, up from $164 million in the prior year and $63.9 million in 2011. Its profits jumped to $567.6 million. The massive growth is due in large part to a significant uptick in gamers playing its titles. The average monthly unique users for all its games in 2013's fourth quarter was 304 million. In the fourth quarter of 2012, that figure stood at 43 million.
Although King has more than 180 games to its name, the crown jewel in its lineup is Candy Crush Saga. That title, according to the company, has 93 million daily users and more than 1 billion daily game plays. Its second-most-popular game, Pet Rescue Saga, comes in at 15 million daily users and 129 million daily game plays.
Despite these figures that may sound promising to King's future investors, it might be hard for the company to shake the Zynga comparisons. After that company went public on the back of its popular FarmVille and CityVille franchises, investors that initially seemed ready to support the company found significant issues in the firm's business. Before long, investors decided that relying on a few franchises and not having enough of a business outside of game development wasn't enough. Zynga has since tried to change its focus and become more well-rounded as a casual-gaming destination. Investors, however, still seem unsure.
Unlike Zynga, King makes most of its money in the mobile space. King has also created a gaming network online that has proven popular among casual gamers. Still, the company will need to prove as time goes on that it can continue to deliver such impressive financial results if its top franchises lose steam. The issue with casual gaming is that while massive user bases can grow quickly, history has shown that they can also fall quickly as gamers find other games.