1）据Venturbeat报道，King Digital Entertainment将于美国时间3月26日在纽约证券交易所上市，筹资可能超过5亿美元，市值将达到76亿美元。
King旗下热门游戏《Candy Crush Saga》最初仅有3名游戏开发者，但目前该游戏在其2013年的18.9亿美元收益中占据多数比例，King现在已有665名员工。
早在《Candy Crush Saga》问世两年之前，于2010年发布的《割绳子》早其游戏关卡中就出现了“喂糖果”（feed with candy）这个标志性语句。
这三家工作室分别是Evolution Studios、Guerrilla Cambridge以及SCE London Studio，该公司称此项目和人事调整之后，公司将专注这三家工作室的业务重组，但《Driveclub》的开发将不会受到裁员的影响，该公司也并未透露具体裁员人数。
Oculus VR首席执行官Brendan Iribe表示，虚拟现实将以一种充满魔力的新颖方式极大影响人们的社交体验，它是一种具有变革性的技术。Oculus将继续保留位于加州南部的总部，预计本轮交易将于今天第二季度完成。（本文为游戏邦/gamerboom.com编译，拒绝任何不保留版权的转载，如需转载请联系：游戏邦）
1）Analysts and game company CEOs eagerly await King’s initial public offering
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The game industry and Wall Street are eagerly awaiting the initial public offering of King Digital Entertainment, which may raise more than $500 million at a $7.6 billion valuation as early as Wednesday.
The West hasn’t seen a major game company IPO since Zynga went public in 2011. And that was a bust after Zynga’s poor financial performance sent its stock downward, dashing the hopes that others would soon follow in its footsteps. If King is successful, it could open the doors for many others to raise money, both in the public and private sectors.
King made its gargantuan hit Candy Crush Saga with only three game developers. That hit generated a huge chunk of the company’s $1.89 billion in revenue in 2013, and now the company has 665 employees trying to knock out one hit after another. The European mobile and social game maker hopes that investors will buy its story that it will be a hit factory, churning out hits like Candy Crush for years to come.
Chris DeWolfe, the CEO of mobile and social game publisher SGN, said in an interview, “One or two events can have such a large impact on this industry. It’s incredible. The King IPO, everyone is watching that with an eagle eye. If they make the first two or three earnings calls, we’re smooth sailing for another six to nine months. If they stumble, it could have a disastrous effect on investment in our industry.”
Privco’s objections to investing in King
Not everyone is convinced. After first describing King’s user growth as “astonishing,” Privco said on Monday that it advised investors to avoid the King investment because of some major red flags. Privco is a private company-analysis firm headed by Sam Hamadeh, whose pronouncements about upcoming IPOs have often been controversial. But analyzing the numbers that Privco brings up yields some interesting observations for potential investors.
Privco pointed to six major problems that King faces, including the obvious one that King is overly reliant on revenues from a single game whose user base shows signs of a decline. Privco also noted that King’s metrics make its number of users look bigger than it is. It said that management and investors have already cashed out much of their ownership. Privco noted there is very little information on a development pipeline at King, and the risks seem very similar to Zynga’s IPO in 2011, which left investors feeling burned as the stock value fell from $9 billion to under $3 billion (it has now bounced back to $4.5 billion).
Of course, Privco’s stance has to be taken in context. Most of the figures that it cites come directly from King’s March 12 IPO filing document. It’s not like King is hiding these facts.
It is pointing out the risks in its own business as it is required to do so by regulators.
Privco notes that 4 percent of King’s monthly unique users (MUUs) are paying customers. (That’s a relatively high percentage compared to some other companies.) The loss of these players could have a big impact on revenues. Privco noted that monthly unique players (MUPs) peaked in the first quarter of 2013 and have declined ever since. The average life span of players is around two to nine months, and Privco says that many of the paying Candy Crush players may soon reach the end of their life span.
“This will be a big risk for King as its business is based on its ability to keep its MUPs engaged,” Privco said.
Privco also said that the way King counts its users, which are based on industry practices, results in an inflated view. The number of monthly average users is 408 million. These include users who are double-counted since they play King games on multiple devices and King does not “de-duplicate” them. The number of monthly unique users (MUU) is only about 304 million. That shows the effects of double counting.
As for the over-reliance on Candy Crush, Privco noted that 78 percent of gross bookings came from Candy Crush in the fourth quarter. Between December 2013 and February 2014, Candy Crush’s daily active users increased from 93 million to 97 million. That means the growth of the game has dramatically slowed.
Privco also pointed out that management and investors have “cashed out.” In the six months leading up to the IPO, the King board paid $504 million in two separate dividends to management, investors, and other shareholders. King also gave “discretionary bonus units” to shareholders $58 million. Altogether, management, shareholders, and investors will receive cash payments of $621 million without having to sell any shares in the offering. Two other companies that did this prior to their IPOs were Zynga and Groupon.
“King has paid out more in dividends than it will raise in its IPO,” Privco said.
However, King did not point out one of the plain facts in the filing. Riccardo Zacconi, the CEO of King, holds about 10.4 percent of the overall shares of the company before the offering, and he will hold 9.5 percent of the shares after it. So management still owns a sizable chunk, and it truly hasn’t cashed out.
Privco also says that King hasn’t discussed much about its game pipeline, nor has it described how it is different from the once high-flying Zynga, which crashed after its IPO.（source：venturebeat）
2）Cut the Rope’s Zeptolab files motion against King’s ‘Candy’ trademark attempt in EU
by Matthew Diener
Cut the Rope developer ZeptoLab has launched a campaign to cancel King’s trademark registration of the word ‘Candy’ in the European Union.
At the end of February, King abandoned its ‘Candy’ trademark attempt in the United States following a backlash from media outlets and developers alike. But while King left ‘Candy’ alone in the US, it hasn’t abandoned its trademark campaign in the European Union.
ZeptoLab has caught on to this disccrepancy and has recently filed a brief with the EU objecting to King’s attempt to trademark ‘candy’ and thus prevent others from using the term in games.
If ZeptoLab’s legal filling is successful, all applications for the registration of ‘candy’ based on the EU registration will be dissolved.
I want candy
ZeptoLab’s filing comes just as King is set for a $7.6 billion valuation ahead of its NYSE debut on 26 March – but it isn’t aimed at dampening King’s spirits.
Instead, it’s intended to protect what ZeptoLab feels is a pivotal part of its games.
“Candy is an integral part of the Cut the Rope franchise,” said ZeptoLab CEO Misha Lyalin, “And we do not support King.com trademarking and preventing others from using it.”
Since launching back in 2010 – two years before Candy Crush Saga’s Facebook debut - Cut the Rope has featured the words “feed with candy” prominently in its early game levels and cinematics.（source：pocketgamer）
3）Report: Japan’s Smartphone Game Market Worth US$5.4 Billion In 2013, Up 178% Y-O-Y
by Serkan Toto
CyberZ, a subsidiary of Toky0-based Internet conglomerate CyberAgent (4751), released a report on the size of the Japanese market for smartphone games today.
According to the report, the domestic market was worth 546.8 billion yen (US$5.4 billion) in 2013, up a staggering 178% from 2012.
What’s interesting is that this industry now reached roughly 50% of the Japanese gaming industry overall, which is sized at 1103.6 billion yen (US$10.8 billion) in 2013.
Observe how that ratio increased from less than 30% a year earlier:
The reason why CyberZ focuses on smartphones in particular is that Japan is the only country in the world that still has a big feature phone game industry: Japan’s Mobile Content Forum (MCF) last year said that industry by itself was still worth US$2.4 billion in 2012 (see here for details).
By way of comparison: MCF estimated a size of US$2.7 billion for Japan’s smartphone game market in 2012, while the chart above, at roughly US$3 billion, lands in the same ballpark for that year.
Japan’s Smartphone Game Market Is Poised To Grow Further In 2014
Staying with smartphone games only, CyberZ projects that segment will grow from US$5.4 billion in 2013 to US$6.5 billion this year.
In the chart below, you see the segment broken down to native apps and browser games: apart from feature phone gaming, Japan is also the only country in the world in which millions of people play (and pay for) games inside the smartphone browser (not as apps).
While apps are booming, CyberZ projects the market for mobile browser games in Japan to stay flat year-on-year:
Further Growth For Mobile Games In Japan Projected Through 2016
But growth is not to stop in 2014.
According to CyberZ’ s report, Japan’s mobile game makers can expect to see the industry to grow until at least 2016.
As can be seen below, the jumps are getting smaller year over year, but the smartphone game segment is expected to reach 823.8 yen (US$8.1 billion) in size by 2016.（source：serkantoto）
4）China’s mobile gaming market: A quantitative deep dive
by Ibrahim Dai
Ibrahim Dai is chief evangelist and director of global business development for TalkingData, China’s leading analytics provider for mobile.
Prior to leading expansion efforts at TalkingData, he worked at renowned big data giants like BEA/Oracle leading its global efforts. Mr. Dai has a penchant for Big Data, the Golden State Warriors, and Phil Collins.
China’s mobile gaming industry underwent an unprecedented explosive growth in 2013. Prior research discusses the numbers behind this growth at a high level, but few enumerate on the why.
What pivotal factors contributed to the growth? Let’s take a look at the numbers.
As of the fourth quarter of 2013, the total number of mobile devices (smartphones and tablets) in use within China reached 550 million. Of those users, a staggering 528 million are mobile gamers.
This is to say, nearly all mobile devices in China have at least one mobile game installed.
Achieving this colossal reach did not happen over night. This phenomenon is a result of the complex app distribution ecosystem and the sheer number of distribution networks in China – pre-installs on Android devices, different carrier apps, the ubiquity of WeChat, and nearly every single mobile website and mobile app with their own app or game recommendation channel.
Unless you are a Chinese mobile phone owner and have had to misfortune to never have had played a single mobile game, chances are, your exposure to mobile games are a near-guarantee. Even a newly purchased device is likely to have pre-installed games along with the latest apps.
The rise of the gamer
The ubiquity of gaming can be measured and inferred through KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) like installs, DAU, etc. The trend is clear: more and more users are increasingly becoming as gamers at neck-break rates. As of the end of December, the number of gamers who have tried five games or more in Q4 was up 2.7 times of that in Q1.
In Q4 of 2013, the percentage of hardcore gamers (players who spent an hour or more on a mobile game per day) had increased to 28% that of all gamers, up 3 times of that in Q1. These trends indicate a maturing mobile gaming market in China with the penetration of paying versus non-paying ratio rising.
A non-existent console era shaping gamers
Where there are overlaps in playing and purchase habits in countries like Europe and the United States, Chinese gamer habits are unique. Unlike a majority of countries, China’s consumer market did not enjoy the console gaming boom era. Consoles like PlayStation, Dreamcast, and Xbox were banned from being sold inside China for a decade. Only recently has this band been lifted.
During this period in China, the gaming market was predominantly led by PC games. The fight for market share was so fierce that gaming companies adopted a free-to-play model, whereby instead of profits being derived by sale of the actual game, it would instead be made through value-add services like the sale of virtual items. For years to come, gamers grew accustomed to play these online games entirely for free.
As of December 2013, of all mobile gamers in China, a cumulative 9.76% are paid users, which is 2.5 times greater than at the beginning of the year. The absolute number of payers has increased by more than 5 times. Roughly 80% of the profits for all the Chinese mobile gaming companies can be attributed to this seemingly small percentage. Also dubbed “whale users”, Chinese game companies employ different methodologies to get users to spend.
Not only this, they also invite extremely competitive and powerful gamers to play together, increasing the competition and consequently increasing revenue.
Android. commoditization, and democracy
2013 saw a massive effort in commoditizing the smartphone market, largely due to the sustained efforts of major corporations like Xiaomi, Huawei, and Lenovo providing cheap phones under 1000 Yuan ($160) leveraging the MediaTek MTK series chipset.
This effort has had a huge impact on the mobile OS market share increasing Android’s share to iOS from 6:4 to 7:3. These mid-to-low end devices have accelerated the transition of feature phone to smartphone for Chinese mobile subscribers in second and third tier cities. This transition has also consequently opened access to smart phone gaming to millions of users who otherwise would not have due to socioeconomic barriers.
Even though the prices of devices like RedMi, built on MTK platform are not high, their device functionality support covers even the latest games.
Therefore, even though they use different devices of varying performance, in reality the Chinese gamers do not experience the content any differently. Aided by the fast spread of mid-to-low end Android devices, the revenues from mobile games on the Android platform in China have been continuously increasing.
As of the fourth quarter of 2013, revenues from mobile games on the Android platform has surpassed the incumbent Apple’s iOS. Android has become the most profitable smart platform for mobile games in China which can be reflected by the growth rate of almost 10% in terms of revenue share by OS.
So what can game developers domestically in China as well as entrants abroad like in the United States and Europe do tap into a market with unprecedented massive revenue potential?
The most crucial thing is to understand who these players are, the games they play, and why they pay. After studying these behaviors, developers can make the appropriate adjustments to their game development strategy.（source：pocketgamer）
5）Multiple British Sony studios hit by layoffs
By Mike Rose
Sony Computer Entertainment Europe confirmed this morning that it has laid off staffers at three of its largest UK-based studios, including the team that is currently working on Driveclub for PlayStation 4.
Sony told VideoGamer that staff at Evolution Studios (Driveclub), Guerrilla Cambridge (Killzone: Mercenary) and SCE London Studio (Singstar) have been affected by the round of layoffs.
The company noted, “We have reviewed and assessed all current projects and have decided to make some changes to some of our European Studios. As a result of this, there will be a focused restructure within London Studio, Guerrilla Cambridge Studio and Evolution Studio to ensure that the SCE WWS is in the best position to achieve their goals going forward.”
And Sony reassured PlayStation 4 owners that “the development of Driveclub will not be affected” by the layoffs. The company did not say how many people have been laid off.（source：gamasutra）
6） Facebook to acquire Oculus for $2 billion
By Christian Nutt
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“Mobile is the platform of today, and now we’re also getting ready for the platforms of tomorrow, Oculus has the chance to create the most social platform ever, and change the way we work, play and communicate.”
Those are the words of Facebook founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg on the announcement that the company has entered into an agreement to acquire VR company Oculus for $2 billion — $400 million in cash and 23.1 million shares of Facebook common stock. There is also an earn-out potential of $300 million in cash and stock based on “the achievement of certain milestones.”
“We believe virtual reality will be heavily defined by social experiences that connect people in magical, new ways. It is a transformative and disruptive technology, that enables the world to experience the impossible, and it’s only just the beginning,” Brendan Iribe, co-founder and CEO of Oculus VR, said in a statement released by Facebook.
Oculus will continue to be headquartered in Southern California, in Irvine. Facebook is headquartered in Menlo Park, in the San Francisco Bay Area. The acquisition of the VR company by the social networking giant is expected to close in the second quarter of this year.
The companies are planning to hold a conference call today to discuss this announcement, and Gamasutra will report on details that emerge later today.（source：gamasutra）