NEW YORK — The company behind “Candy Crush Saga” is going public, hoping the popularity of its addictive online game will translate to sweet returns for itself and its investors.
King Digital Entertainment PLC, which makes lesser-known games such as “Bubble Witch Saga” and “Pet Rescue Saga,” did not disclose how many shares it expects to offer in the IPO or a projected price range for the stock. In papers filed Tuesday with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the company said it hopes to raise as much as $500 million in the offering. The amount may change in the coming weeks as the company and the IPO’s underwriting banks gauge investor demand.
“Candy Crush” was the most downloaded free app on iPhones and iPads in 2013, beating Facebook, Google Maps and YouTube. The game’s success helped King replace Zynga Inc. — maker of “FarmVille” and “Mafia Wars”— as No. 1 producer of games played on Facebook.
Zynga, too, once ruled the realm of online games. And in 2011, the company went public riding the popularity of an addictive game, “FarmVille.” Founded in 2002, King only decided to go public once “Candy Crush” had achieved the pinnacle of popularity. But several analysts say any comparisons between King and Zynga are unfair — to both companies.
King is five years older than San Francisco’s Zynga, and thanks largely to in-app purchases people make while playing “Candy Crush,” it generated 2013 revenue of $1.88 billion, more than 10 times its 2012 revenue of $164.4 million. Zynga’s 2013 revenue was $873.3 million, down from $1.28 billion in 2012.