King Has Eyes on China, Japan
After the disappointing debut of King’s initial public offering, it’s obvious that King execs have been scrambling to regain lost ground. With stock prices hovering around $18, it is crucial for King to act boldly if it’s going to avoid a slow decline into obscurity. But few people foresaw King’s new strategy: cracking the Asian market.
In December of last year, King unleashed its first Japanese ad campaign. The TV spots featured a woman playing Candy Crush outside as candy pours over her like rain. After the campaign got rolling, Candy Crush shot up the charts to become the top iTunes game downloaded in Japan and the number 2 contender on the Google Play store. Downloads have since dropped off, but Candy Crush remains popular amongst Japanese social gamers. To bolster their ratings and revenue, King has now begun a new ad campaign featuring Junichi Okada and Kenichi Endo, a boy band member and dramatic actor respectively. The ads are peculiar, to say the least, and have thus caused quite a stir on the Internet. Watch them for yourself.
With such big names behind it, Candy Crush is poised for another big bump in Japan–so King’s eyes have moved slightly to the west and are gazing on China. King has entered into a partnership with Tencent Holdings to create a localized edition of Candy Crush Saga for Chinese players. Tencent is already well-positioned to deliver Candy Crush to a huge segment of the population, with social platforms like the QQ instant messenger and search engine QQ.com, both used by millions of Chinese citizens. Their QQ Game Platform crested 180 million active accounts last year. This translates to massive numbers of Tencent patrons that can be easily diverted to the app download page. King and Tencent are clearly a powerful combination.
The only question is whether this partnership will be enough to propel King’s share price above twenty dollars again. Only time will tell, but the market rewarded King with a gentle gain of 3% after the news broke. If reception in China is anything like it has been in Japan, King will be ready to take another huge slice of the gaming industry’s pie.