Candy Crush Saga: Marketing, Success & the Future

by Justin Carroll

Candy Crush Saga

If you’re one of the biggest hits in mobile game history, how do you stay on top? I talked with King about the success and marketing of Candy Crush Saga.

Candy Crush Saga is a household name. And its developer, King, is a household name in the video games industry. To be clear, King is one of the highest-grossing mobile game developers in the world. And they recently closed their acquisition by video games giant, Activision Blizzard, for a whopping 5.9 billion dollars.

In the midst of that action, I talked with Andreas Olofsson, Lead Producer at King, about the marketing and success of Candy Crush Saga. Basically, he’s the guy responsible for operating the Candy Crush franchise.

Here’s what he had to say…

Hey, Andreas. Thanks for taking time to chat. I know how busy you must be right now. Let’s get right to it… How is Candy Crush Saga unlike anything you’ve done before, what’s most exciting about this for you?

I think the most exciting thing for us was being able to launch Candy Crush Saga on various platforms and seeing how much of an impact it had on the way people play games nowadays. At King we have developed cross platform games that can be enjoyed across mobile, Facebook and PC.

All of our games are designed in such a way that they can be picked up and played by everyone at any time, allowing players to switch seamlessly between devices.

A lot of our players choose to play when they want to relax and unwind or just want to spend a few minutes having fun while they’re on their commute.

What are some of the big successes you’ve had with Candy Crush Saga since its release?

I don’t think we ever imagined we’d have the success on the scale that we have had with Candy Crush. Since it’s launch onto mobile in 2012, we have released two sister titles – Candy Crush Soda Saga in 2014 and more recently at the beginning of this year, Candy Crush Jelly Saga.

All three games are designed to be played alongside each other and offer players new and exciting challenges. Candy Crush Jelly Saga has launched with a new competitive element – the chance to compete against the Jelly Queen in the boss mode levels.

In terms of some of the wider successes we’ve had since the launch of Candy Crush Saga, King has a network of 318 million monthly unique users as of the fourth quarter of 2015, and have developed more than 200 exclusive games.

We also reported that two of our games were in the top 5 grossing games on the Apple App Store and on Google Play in the US according to analytics service App Annie, and it is our long-term strategy to grow and develop our franchises, which now include Candy Crush, Farm Heroes, Pet Rescue and Bubble Witch.

What are some specific marketing strategies or tactics that you’ve been successful with?

When we launch our games, we use multiple marketing channels available to us which can include TV, PR, performance marketing and cross promotion.

In addition to this, our games team continue to add new content and elements over time to keep players engaged and happy. For example, we often run events in our games that allow players to compete against each other, collaborate or to achieve a certain goal in a limited amount of time. We market some of these events so that players can choose themselves if they want to engage with these features or not.

By giving the players more choice, we can reach a broader audience and allow for a unique gameplay experience.

Did you do anything notably different in marketing Candy Crush Saga than other games in the past?

We’ve always taken an ROI-based approach to marketing and launching Candy Crush Saga was no different. Since then, we have launched a number of TV ads and will often run marketing campaigns around live ops, events, updates and new features in the game.

In your career experience what’s been most difficult about selling mobile games?

First of all, our audience has increased massively and with the surge of smartphones and apps over the last few years, it’s so easy to pick up our phones and play a game. This has resulted in the competitive landscape changing greatly with many new entrants flooding into the market every year.

Many more developers are making games nowadays and the barriers for entry continue to be low, which can be challenging. This means that players can be overwhelmed by the offering in the market place and their attention span is even shorter. For developers in this space, it means that the expectations on the products are very high.

We make games that we’re proud of at King and our developers spend many hours creating games that will be enjoyed by millions of people around the world. All of our games have been through rigorous testing to ensure they are the best quality they can be and will entertain our players for years to come.

What does the future of mobile gaming look like?

I think that as the general technological advancements in mobile phones continue grow, the development and future of mobile gaming will result in developers being able to create even more beautiful, deep and sophisticated games that fans and players can enjoy on their mobile devices.

And finally, what are you most excited about for the future of King?

We can’t give away and specific information about our games pipeline but I can say we’ll continue to make great games that our players love and enjoy as well building longstanding gaming franchises.

We recently launched the third game in the Candy Crush franchise, Candy Crush Jelly Saga, which is already proving popular with our players.

We continue to add new content and new levels to all the Candy Crush franchise games every few weeks. In the past twelve months we’ve also launched regular live events in all our franchise games, as well as significant feature extensions and these have proved extremely popular with players.

Thanks again for everything. Super excited to see what you do next!

Andreas Olofsson is the Lead Producer at King who’s worked as a producer and developer for the phenomenon, Candy Crush Saga. He also manages cross functional teams developing and operating the biggest hit in the history of mobile gaming.