King的成功是以《Candy Crush Saga》这款游戏以及Saga系列为基础的。《Candy Crush Saga》在该公司交易额中占比78%，《Candy Crush Saga》、《Pet Rescue Saga》和《Farm Heroes Saga》这三者在总交易额中占比95%。该公司发展迅速，其收益从2011年的6400万美元增长至2013年时的19亿美元，其中主要贡献力量是《Candy Crush Saga》。
这同时也需要一点运气。《Candy Crush Saga》与《Flappy Bird》和《江南Style》一样是一种抓住了时代思潮的文化现象。
King的估值是在《Candy Crush Saga》及其继承者持续成功的基础之上的一种预测。这75亿美元的估值相当于该公司2013年10倍的营业利润，如果你认为它2013年的营业利润能够代表未来表现的话，那么这种估值还是低了。
在2013年的19亿美元收益中，《Candy Crush Saga》占比78%（14.7亿美元），它与《Pet Rescue Saga》和《Farm Heroes Saga》合并占公司总收益的95%，也就是说排除了《Candy Crush Saga》，这两款游戏在2013年的收益就是3.2亿美元。所以根据我的估算，一款稳定的King游戏年收益约1.6亿美元。
这里还有一些夸张的假设。这78%和95%的比例是基于总交易额，我想它也同样适用于收益。我将《Pet Rescue Saga》等同于《Farm Heroes Saga》，尽管前者拥有1500万DAU，后者DAU仅为800万。我相信King是在没有《Candy Crush Saga 》交叉推广及连锁反应的情况下创造了这两款游戏。
《Candy Crush Saga》的未来何去何从？
当然，这一估值忽略了《Candy Crush Saga》。你无法忽略这款游戏，因为如果没有它，King也就不会有今天。但如何对这款King已经无法再复制其成功性的热作进行估值呢？King在去年第四季度的收益数据有所下滑，从6.21亿美元降至6.02亿美元。据分析师Arvind Bhatai所称，《Candy Crush Saga》可能在2013年7月曾达到高峰。
也就是说一个下滑的项目年收益仍可达到15亿美元，实现3.15亿美元的利润。也许它的销售额会增加1倍（15亿美元），利润会增长10倍（31亿美元）。让我们折衷一下算为23亿美元。但我们已经在之前的稳定状态估值中将估值5亿美元的《Candy Crush Saga》纳入其中，所以这款游戏的“溢价”应该是18亿美元。
这对股市来说可不是个儿戏。让我们假设King还是有可能推出另一款热作。我将为其添加额外的5.75亿，这是《Candy Crush Saga》一个季度的估值，意味着它有四分之一的可能。这已经是很乐观的估计了。
*23亿美元，《Candy Crush Saga》的溢价
有人可能会指责我在乐观和消极两个极端上进行了夸张的假设。我假设King在平台分成后保持30%的利润率，这远低于它现在的实际利润率（因《Candy Crush Saga》的成功而增强，并且高于其历史上的利润率）。营销成本将持续上升，因为这个市场已变得更具竞争性。我是根据历史数据进行自己的估算，任何分析师都知道预测很重要。Arvind Bhatia预测King在2014年的收益将达26.2亿美元。我此前还没看过详细的预测，但如果其利润率保持在占总收益38%这个稳定状态，那么营业利润就是10亿美元。在这个基础上，75亿美元的估值听起来并不高。
Why I think King’s share price will fall by half
By Nicholas Lovell
The valuation of King has me terrified.
If King tanks after its stock market debut this week (and I think it will), that will be bad news for the games industry for the next three years.
Zynga’s miserable performance is still fresh in people’s minds. Zynga convinced the market that its metrics-driven design process had eliminated the risky nature of the games industry. It had two proven “franchises” in the “Wars” games (although these had peaked) and the “-Ville” games and acquired a third (“With Friends”) through acquisition.
Yet all the metrics in the world couldn’t hide the fact that the titles were formulaic and derivative. Zynga has indeed brought metrics into the mainstream of the games industry, much to the good, but it has also demonstrated the limits of metrics. Metrics-led design can only seek out local maxima. It can make what already exists better. What it can’t do is take designers and players on new journeys, to new experiences that inspire their souls. Metrics-led design is good; creative-led, metrics-informed design is way better.
Which brings me back to King, which is expected to price an IPO this week with a valuation of $7.5 billion. My rough estimate is that King’s valuation should be is nearer to half that.
King’s success is predicated on one game, Candy Crush Saga, and one franchise, the “Saga” series, which it humorously calls its “first” franchise. Candy Crush Saga makes up 78% of gross bookings for the company. Three games – Candy Crush Saga, Pet Rescue Saga and Farm Heroes Saga – make up 95% of gross bookings. The company has also grown sharply. Revenues rose from $64 million in 2011 to $164 million to an astonishing $1.9 billion in 2013, mainly on the back of Candy Crush Saga.
What can grow ten fold in a year can fall ten fold in a year
I am in awe of what King has achieved in the past 11 years. Founded in 2003 as a skill gaming business, King has pivoted three times, first away from skill gaming, then from the browser to Facebook, then from Facebook to mobile. Any company that can achieve a successful pivot once deserves our respect. A business that can do it three times is impressive indeed.
It has also got lucky. Candy Crush Saga is a phenomenon up there with 50 Shades of Grey, Flappy Birds and Gangnam Style. A global phenomenon that captured the zeitgeist. Psy, the creator of Gangnam Style, was sanguine about his success. “It wasn’t me. It was the people. And what happens if they don’t do it again next time.” And they didn’t. Can you name Psy’s next YouTube hit after Gangnam Style? *
King’s valuation is predicated on the continued success both of Candy Crush Saga and of a successor to Candy Crush Saga. It’s $7.5 billion expected valuation is barely 10x the operating profit the company made in 2013. Which is a steal if you believe the 2013 operating profit is a good proxy for performance in the future.
Which I don’t.
What does King look like as a steady state company
I believe that King is a three product company that has a good track record of putting out high-quality casual games on multiple platforms. It has also struck oil once. I am nervous valuing it on the basis of striking gold again.
I have tried to “normalise” King’s business. Out of its $1.9 billion in 2013 revenues, Candy Crush Saga represented 78% or $1.47 billion. It makes 95% of gross bookings when added to Pet Rescue Saga and Farm Heroes Saga. Stripping Candy Crush Saga out suggests that Pet Rescue Saga and Farm Heroes Saga made $320 million in 2013, or $160 million each. So a steady-state King game, by my estimations, makes around $160 million a year.
There are some heroic assumptions in here. The 78% and 95% figures are based on gross bookings, and I am assuming they apply equally to revenue. I am treating Pet Rescue Saga and Farm Heroes Saga equally, even though Pet Rescue Saga has 15 million DAUs and Farm Heroes Saga has 8 million DAUs. I am crediting King with being able to create these franchises without the halo effect and cross promotional benefits of the Candy Crush leviathan. But bear with me.
So looking forward, let’s assume that King has three “steady state games” (CCS, PRS, FHS) and can produce another in 2014. That would suggest revenues of $640 million. (4 x steady state game revenues of $160 million). Strip out 30% platform holders fee leaves $450 million in net revenue (or gross profit depending on your definitions). Margins are likely to be under pressure, as King invests heavily both in new development but mostly in defending its position with marketing spend, so I estimate a 30% operating margin on the net revenue, leaving operating profit of $135 million.
Put that on a multiple of 15x and you get a valuation of just over $2 billion. Put it on a multiple of 20x and the valuation is $2.7 billion.
But what about Candy Crush?
Of course that valuation ignores Candy Crush. And you can’t ignore Candy Crush Saga, because without it King wouldn’t be floating. But how to value a one-off hit that King has not been able to replicate and that appears to have peaked? King’s Q4 2013 revenue numbers fell in the fourth quarter of 2013, the last quarter for which numbers are available, from $621 million to $602 million. Candy Crush Saga may have peaked in July, according to analyst Arvind Bhatai at Stern Agee.
But peaking doesn’t mean the same as “is over”. It’s a still a single game making around $1.5 billion a year. It has 93 million Daily Active Users (although King does count the same user playing on tablet, smartphone and Facebook as three Active Users). It is a profitable, declining business. If you knock off the platform fee of 30% and assume a 30% margin on net revenue, it is still making $315 million of profit a year.
So a declining business making $1.5 billion in revenue and $315 million in profit. Perhaps its worth 1x sales ($1.5 billion). Or 10x profits ($3.1 billion). Let’s split the difference and call it $2.3 billion. But we’ve already included $500 million of value for Candy Crush Saga in the steady state valuation above, so the Candy Crush Saga “premium” is $1.8 billion.
What about the next hit?
All of this is valuing King on its fundamentals. But what about the potential for it to make the next big hit?
At one level, what about it? That is not a game you should play in the stock market. That is for investors with high risk tolerance, probably in the public markets. But let’s be generous. Let’s assume that there is some valuation sizzle for the potential for King to knock another one of the park. I’ll add an extra $575 million for this, which is a quarter of the Candy Crush Saga valuation and implies a one in four chance of it happening. I think I’m being generous.
So what is the valuation
This process gives me three components to King’s valuation:
$2,000 million, the lower of the steady state valuations
$2,300 million, the Candy Crush Saga premium
$575 million, the sizzle factor in case King gets another blow out hit.
Combined, that is a valuation of $4,875 million.
I could be accused of making aggressive assumptions both for the bull case and the bear. I have assumed King maintains a 30% margin after the platform share, which is much lower than its current margin, which is enhanced by the success of Candy Crush and much higher than its historic margins – the company was loss making in 2011, for example. Marketing costs are going up as the market becomes more competitive. I have based my valuation on historic figures when any analyst worth his salt knows that it is only forecasts that matter. Arvind Bhatia estimates that King’s 2014 revenues will be $2.62 billion. I haven’t seen a detailed forecast, but if margins stay steady at 38% of gross revenue, that’s $1 billion in operating profit. On that basis, a $7.5 billion deal sounds cheap.
Which is the whole conundrum of King’s valuation. The company has struck oil. It is not pricing at the top end of the comparables on the basis of this dependence on a single title. It probably seems to executives and shareholders at the company as if this valuation is a steal.
I have enormous admiration for King. Its three pivots, its doggedness, its ability to not only bottle lightning but then to harness it to launch other titles have all been enormously impressive. To the risk takers and entrepreneurs who founded and invested in the business, it’s looking great. But to the investors in the public markets, the pension funds and life insurance companies and widows and orphans, their tolerance for risk is much lower.
So my conclusion is that King’s real valuation is below $5 billion, not over $7.5 billion. I expect that the banks will get the IPO away, because I have rarely seen an IPO get to this stage and not happen. But I expect the buyers to be the ill-informed and the followers, not the price setters. I expect the price to fall over the next four weeks. If it does, it won’t fall to my $5 billion. The market will get angry and fearful. The price will plummet.
I hope it doesn’t. I really do. Because of my respect for what King has achieved and because of my fear for what a second failed IPO would do to the market. （source：gamesbrief）