King Digital Entertainment (NYSE:KING) develops and markets games on Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) and mobile platforms and is best known for its success with the highly addictive Candy Crush Saga. Its IPO in March 2014 opened with pricing at $22.50 per share, a number most agree was too high for the game developer. After a disappointing IPO, King is now showing signs of growth and expansion, appearing much more adept to consumer's interests than competitors Zynga (NASDAQ:ZNGA) and Glu Mobile (NASDAQ:GLUU).
King's business model of perfecting a handful of games every year to give each game a better chance of becoming successful has worked thus far, and should continue to in the future. King has consolidated its game offerings to a select list, but makes them widely playable on any device and for all gamers alike: casual, hardcore, and everything in between. With the synchronized play feature, the company allows games to be played on Facebook or online, and then pick up at the same location on a mobile device or tablet. This increased functionality plays a large role in attracting King's 352 million average monthly unique users.
As King rises to power, others fall
Unfortunately, for King to succeed, others had to fail. Zynga looks increasingly disappointing to investors as time progresses and share prices continue to fall. After launching the Facebook game Farmville in 2009, the company grabbed an unprecedented market share on Facebook gaming and rapidly accelerated it into a viable outlet for game developers. However, the success of Farmville was not enough to keep Zynga on top of the Facebook gaming industry, being displaced by King in 2013.
Problems for Zynga
Just this month, Zynga received a noncompliance notice from Nasdaq, informing the company that it violated rules established for leadership positions after two directors stepped down. Besides management issues, the company has struggled with its transition into mobile gaming, leaving a void to be filled by King in both Facebook and mobile gaming industries. A year after displacing Zynga, King now produces three of the top five most played Facebook games today.
It's tough to make great games
Mobile gaming developer Glu Mobile is seeing the same adversity on its side of the gaming market. After following its business plan of producing game after game, desperately hoping that one sticks, the company can't seem to make a hit. The enjoyment consumers get from playing games like Kim Kardashian: Hollywood and Zombies Ate My Friends just isn't enough to carry it along, although it does look better than Zynga because of the solid leadership in place. An adaptation of King's business plan to perfect a handful of games might allow Glu to succeed, but for now it stays bearish.
Vini, vidi, vici
In the highly competitive field of game developing, King has launched itself to the top of web and mobile gaming. By producing addictive and desirable games for a broad range of users over all platforms, King has given consumers the enjoyment and versatility other companies before have lacked. King's track record with producing popular games allows the investment to be very rewarding, but only time will tell if it will end up like Zynga and Glu Mobile. If King can continue making popular games, it will be able to pay its investors handsomely for taking the risk.
Andy Kazewych has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Apple and Facebook. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple and Facebook. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.
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