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Casual games: Sweet spot

April 25, 2013

LINE up three icky sweets of the same colour; they vanish. Not because your greedy children have stolen them: this is part of a game called ?Candy Crush Saga?. Unlike real sweets, the virtual ones never run out. The game continues for 365 levels, and more are added all the time. A startling 15m 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?s 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 3.6m 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 66m players a day, up from 10m a year ago and 50m only last month.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 on April 24th that its daily player count had fallen to 52m, from 72m in the second quarter of last year. It still has more players on Facebook, the core of its business, than anyone else. But it has stumbled, losing $209m in 2012, though it made a profit of $4m in the first quarter of 2013. It is trying to widen its...

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