Headline Dec 28, 2014/

''' GAMES - MAKERS '''

LINE up three icky sweets of the same colour; they vanish. Not because some greedy children have stolen them:

This is a part of a game called  ''Candy Crush Saga''. Unlike real sweets, the virtual never run out.

The game continues for  365 levels, and more are added all the time.

A startling 15 million people  play   ''Candy Crush Saga''    on Facebook each day, making it the most popular application on the social network.

It is also the  top-grossing- app in Apple's and  Google stores.

''Candy Crush Saga''  is made by King, a ten-year old firm from Stockholm with studios in London and three other cities.

''Match three''  games are far from new. An older  variant involves jewels; in King's newest,  ''Farm Heroes Saga'',  which already has 3.6 million daily players, the fun is in fruit and vegetables.

But for  King  it is still a winner.

The firm reckons that its games of all kinds draw  66 million players a day, up from 10 million a year ago and  50 million in March, 2013.

On that count, King claims to have deposed Zynga, an American company best known for  ''Farmville'' , a world of virtual husbandry and tillage.

Zynga said some time back that its daily player count had fallen to 52 million from 72 million. It still has more players on Facebook, the core of its business, than anyone else.

Bit it has stumbled, losing  $ 209 million in 2012, though it made a profit of $4 million in the first quarter of 2013.

It is trying to widen its appeal, notably through poker and casino games for real money, which it launched in Britain recently.

Unlike Zynga, which was listed on the stockmarket in December, 2011, King is still in private hands.

Riccardo Zacconi,  its chief executive and one of its founders, says it has been in profit since 2005, the last year in which it raised money from investors.

Revenues come from the small fraction of players who pay for help to pass a level, and from advertisements.

''We're in no rush,''  says Mr Zacconi, anticipating a question about a public offering. He's in a hurry for labour rather than capital. Staff numbers are expected to rise from  450  to  700  by the end of the year. 

King's origins predate the rise of social media and smartphones. They lie in a website that boasts about  150  ''casual''  games   -simple ones that last a couple of minutes- and is still the company's main test bed.

King arrived on  Facebook  late,  in April 2011,  with  ''Bubble Saga''   -a variant on another classic genre,  the  ''bubble shooter''.

Its first mobile app came only in July, 2012.  The combination of social media and mobility has been like a sugar rush.

On Facebook,  people can boast to their friends about reaching a new level or beg them to send extra lives if they get stuck.

It helps,  too, that players can pick up one device at the point they had reached on another.

Before they were on Facebook King's games were played  300 million times a month.

The latest figure is over  16 billion.

The elusive ambition of  games-makers, like film studios or record labels, is to keep out churning out successes rather than be one-hit wonders

''Without question, a games company with a string of hits is unusual,''  says Brian Blau of  Gartner,  a research firm.

King has been one of the exceptions.

With respectful dedication to all the lovers and addicts of casual games the world over. See Ya all on !WOW!   -the World Students Society Computers-Internet-Wireless:

''' The Buzz '''

'''Good Night and God Bless

SAM Daily Times - the Voice of the Voiceless


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