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Candy crushing the competition: The 'stars have aligned' for King, says Tommy Palm

#GDCEurope And Facebook is still a force
Candy crushing the competition: The 'stars have aligned' for King, says Tommy Palm
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While many casual gaming commentators would have you believe Facebook is becoming something of a spent force, King's games guru Tommy Palm thinks there's still life in the old dog yet.

Not necessarily as a gaming platform in its own right long term, however, but rather as a tool to drive growth on mobile.

Speaking during his talk at GDC Europe in Cologne, Palm admitted King had been "late to join the Facebook train in 2010" but nonetheless found itself as the 7th biggest developer on the platform thanks to the launch of Bubble Saga.

A year or two on, however, and it was clear that developers like King couldn't afford to rely on Facebook alone anymore.

Sweet move

"Mobile is the fastest scaling games platform of all time, and we realised that we had to make more than just games for PC," offered Palm.

"Computers started to decline in share, and yet smartphones and tablets were picking up. You couldn't just rely on Facebook any more."

However, King quickly found that, when it launched its mobile line-up, take-up of the corresponding Facebook titles also received a boost.

This was no one way street, either. Candy Crush Saga currently has 40 million plus Facebook fans and is played 600 million times a day on mobile devices alone. The two versions of the game, Palm said, actively feed into each other.

Two become one

"Discoverability on Facebook is mostly viral," added Palm.

"On mobile, on the other hand, discovery is mainly driven by the app stores themselves. So one thing that's been very successful for King is to use Facebook to push the mobile games. Half of all mobile users connected to Facebook more than 500 million so it's a great place for games to be discovered."

King's mobile games, therefore, are directly linked to on Facebook if someone picks up a request on their mobile, helping to spread growth across both platforms.

What would Palm say was the one key trick the studio employed to achieve success with Candy Crush Saga, however?

"I think marketing and branded is one of the holy grails when it comes to mobile games," he concluded when questioned.

"There are a lot of great games that don't make it through the noise. Any really popular game, you look into it and you'll see all the stars are aligned, but if pushed I would say accessibility and the social aspects are definitely the most important."

Planning for success

That's not to say developers shouldn't pin down a strategy, though.

"With marketing, a broad approach is often the best, and you want to try and use all the different channels at once," he concluded.

"PR, advertising, Facebook, cross promotion, word of mouth, getting featured but this last one is not easy to secure.

"Apple is still very much a hardware company, so anything that's seen as promoting their hardware they'll pick up on. Their goal is still ultimately to sell the hardware - the smartphones and the tablets."