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Candy Crush Saga is a variation on a match-three game developed by London-based casual social game company King Digital Entertainment in April 2012. By January 2013, it had surpassed FarmVille 2 as the most popular game on Facebook.
Long before the release of Candy Crush, online match-three games were popularized in 2001 with the launch of the browser game Bejeweled by PopCap Games. On April 12th, 2012, casual gaming company King Digital Entertainment released Candy Crush Saga as on app on Facebook with 65 available levels. In the days following its release, the game was featured on Gamezebo, Indie Social Games and Games.com. Within 11 days, the game had become the fastest-growing game on Facebook after gaining 1.04 million monthly users that week.
By April 30th, Candy Crush Saga was seeing 4.2 million active users. In May 2012, AllFacebook reported that Candy Crush Saga’s daily active users had doubled, thanks to the game immediately showing a player’s Facebook friends’ faces on the game board and the way the game encourages gifting to one another. That November, King reported 5 million daily players before the game launched on Apple’s mobile operating system that seamlessly integrated with the Facebook app. By January 2013, some mobile phone users reported changing the time on their device in order to get more lives in the game. That same month, the game attracted 9.7 million players, making it the most popular game on Facebook. As of September 2013, Candy Crush attracts more than 50 million players on Facebook per day and is the top-grossing app in the Apple store for both iPhone and iPad.
Initial Public Offering
On February 18th, 2014, King.com officially filed its F-1 form with the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission to make its initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange, hoping to raise up to $500 millions. In the filing, registered under the name King Digital Entertainment, the company reported a profit of $567.6 million (USD) on $1.89 billion in total revenue, the vast majority of which, approximately 78%, came from Candy Crush Saga. While the announcement quickly made the headlines across the tech business news sites in the United States, some news outlets were more skeptical about the company’s long-term viability than others, citing its heavy reliance on Candy Crush for revenues and the trends of numerous other case studies in the mobile gaming sector.
Each player begins with maximum number of five lives and must use one to play a level, in which they must swap up to six colors of candies, creating combinations of at least three in a row.. There are five different types of levels, including reaching a certain score, clearing spaces covered in jelly, bringing a special ingredient to the bottom of the board, reaching a certain score within a time limit and crushing a specific amount of colored candies. Additionally, if players combine four or more of the same color candy, they unlock special candies that can further be combined to create new combinations resulting in different effects. As of September 2013, the Facebook app has 470 levels and the mobile app has 410.
The game has been often described as a prime example of a mobile app running on the “freemium” model, in which games are provided without charge but players can opt to pay for add-ons, items and other downloadable content packages.
By May 2012, YouTubers began sharing their solutions to certain levels through video, resulting in more than 145,000 search results for “Candy Crush Level” on the site as of September 2013. The game is also a popular topic of discussion on Tumblr, Reddit, Instagram, Buzzfeed and Twitter, where “Candy Crush” has been mentioned more than 1.6 million times since its release. In June 2013, the Candy Crush Saga Wiki was created, and has gained more than 580 pages in three months. By July 2013, Candy Crush was bringing in approximately $633,000 per day in revenue.
In February 2014, Albert Ransom, founder and president of Runsome Apps Inc., published an open letter via his company website to address certain similarities between Candy Crush Saga and his own match-three puzzle game called CandySwipe, which was released months before the former on November 15th, 2010.
Congratulations! You win! I created my game CandySwipe in memory of my late mother who passed away at an early age of 62 of leukemia. I released CandySwipe in 2010 five months after she passed and I made it because she always liked these sorts of games. In fact, if you beat the full version of the android game, you will still get the message saying “…the game was made in memory of my mother, Layla…” I created this game for warmhearted people like her and to help support my family, wife and two boys 10 and 4. Two years after I released CandySwipe, you released Candy Crush Saga on mobile; the app icon, candy pieces, and even the rewarding, “Sweet!” are nearly identical. So much so, that I have hundreds of instances of actual confusion from users who think CandySwipe is Candy Crush Saga, or that CandySwipe is a Candy Crush Saga knockoff. So when you attempted to register your trademark in 2012, I opposed it for “likelihood of confusion” (which is within my legal right) given I filed for my registered trademark back in 2010 (two years before Candy Crush Saga existed). Now, after quietly battling this trademark opposition for a year, I have learned that you now want to cancel my CandySwipe trademark so that I don’t have the right to use my own game’s name. You are able to do this because only within the last month you purchased the rights to a game named Candy Crusher (which is nothing like CandySwipe or even Candy Crush Saga). Good for you, you win. I hope you’re happy taking the food out of my family’s mouth when CandySwipe clearly existed well before Candy Crush Saga.
I have spent over three years working on this game as an independent app developer. I learned how to code on my own after my mother passed and CandySwipe was my first and most successful game; it’s my livelihood, and you are now attempting to take that away from me. You have taken away the possibility of CandySwipe blossoming into what it has the potential of becoming. I have been quiet, not to exploit the situation, hoping that both sides could agree on a peaceful resolution. However, your move to buy a trademark for the sole purpose of getting away with infringing on the CandySwipe trademark and goodwill just sickens me.
This also contradicts your recent quote by Riccardo in “An open letter on intellectual property” posted on your website which states, “We believe in a thriving game development community, and believe that good game developers – both small and large – have every right to protect the hard work they do and the games they create.”
I myself was only trying to protect my hard work.
I wanted to take this moment to write you this letter so that you know who I am. Because I now know exactly what you are. Congratulations on your success!
President (Founder), Runsome Apps Inc.
Inside Social Games – King.com breaking into match-3 genre with Candy Crush Saga on Facebook
Inside Social Games – Candy Crush Saga dominates this week’s list of fastest-growing Facebook games by MAU