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“I’m proud of what we do at King but I’m even prouder of how we do things”

King’s VP of product for Candy Crush Soda Paula Ingvar shares on turning a hobby into a profession
“I’m proud of what we do at King but I’m even prouder of how we do things”
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King’s Candy Crush Saga was originally released on Facebook and has since achieved incredible success on mobile. But it isn’t just the original game performing well for the studio. Candy Crush Saga’s sister title, Candy Crush Soda, has been a great success in its own right as the title approaches the significant milestone of 10 years.

In this interview, we spoke with Paula Ingvar, VP of product for Candy Crush Soda, about joining the games industry and what it has been like working at King for the past eight years. Ingvar shares advice to others looking to enter the industry, what it means to lead the games product teams, and what comes next as Candy Crush Soda turns ten. Please tell us a little about yourself. How did you get started in the games industry and what led you to King?

Paula Ingvar: I lead the Candy Crush Soda Saga Product team and have been at King for almost ten years. Before joining King, I was a traffic engineer and a big fan of Candy Crush Soda Saga. What I didn't realise was that there was so much opportunity within the gaming industry and that a hobby could turn into a job.

I was initially drawn to King because of its culture and values, which are lived throughout the organisation.

It's been almost a decade at King! How do you reflect on that journey from your first role to where you are now?

I joined King in a central business performance role and then had the opportunity to move to finance and then into product. This has given me a really good understanding of the company as a whole, and I’ve certainly evolved as a leader in that time. But the biggest difference from when I joined is how much the industry has changed during the past decade. It has really evolved, and our players have taught us so many great lessons along the way. Initially, mobile gaming was all about ‘the next big thing’. But we’ve seen that if you’re providing content that’s fun and engaging, players are loyal even in a fast-moving world. It’s been brilliant to see the evolution of our games as we work to keep up with the ever-increasing expectations of players.

“King really celebrates diversity and it makes us stronger for it.”
Paula Ingvar

What do you enjoy most about working at King?

The best thing about working at King is the people. It's a friendly and supportive community that makes collaborative problem solving a joy. It’s incredibly rewarding to work with such talented people.

I’m proud of what we do at King, but I’m even prouder of how we do things. Everyone has a voice, we each feel connected to our overall goals, and we work well together. King really celebrates diversity and it makes us stronger for it. If our games are going to last the way we want them to, the way we work needs to be sustainable, as well as reflective of our players.

What can you tell us about leading the Candy Crush Soda team? What does your role look like on a daily basis?

Leading the Candy Crush Soda Saga product team involves setting strategic visions and ensuring our game's development is on track to meet its goals. The game is at an important point in its life as we work to define what the next ten years will look like.

On a daily basis, this means I lead the product teams to continue developing the game, work with the Head of Tech and Head of Creative to ensure we have one cohesive strategy, and collaborate with our central functions to ensure Soda is getting the support it needs to continue delighting our players. I’m ultimately responsible for delivering on leadership expectations for a game that is played by millions of people - which is an honour!

People management is really important to me in my role. It’s so rewarding to see someone take on a new challenge and watch them flourish. I’m also an active mentor with newer leaders at King. Having personally benefited from a number of mentors during my time here, it’s important to me to give back.

“Originally, we thought Soda might be the next Candy Crush, and we quickly found out that many players enjoyed playing both.”
Paula Ingvar

Can you tell us a little about the development process behind the game? What was it like to create something that feels linked to the world of Candy Crush but is separate enough to stand on its own merits?

Originally, we thought Soda might be the next Candy Crush, and we quickly found out that many players enjoyed playing both. We now see them as sister games that complement each other but are free to seek their own unique destiny. Although the games function in a similar way, Soda has its own nuances - like its fluid physics or quirky sense of humour. We’re constantly looking for what players want next while balancing this with the overall cohesion of the game.

After ten years, the development process is about taking care of the game and keeping up with the market. Our team takes great pride in constantly elevating the player experience. We also ensure all new features are inclusive by assessing sound, language and visual effects. It’s important to us that Soda is enjoyable for all of our players. We also work to localise content and events as much as possible. Our aim is to raise the expectations of what an inclusive game should look like.

The game celebrates ten years this year. What do you think has played a major role in its success?

We wouldn’t be here without the continued support of our players, many of whom have been around since the game launched. We’ve also never been complacent. Our games have grown alongside our players, constantly offering something new through innovation and brilliant execution. As a team, we’re all about the flow, consistently questioning ourselves and changing accordingly - just like our game, we want to be frictionless and fluid.

“I wish I had known sooner that there are many entry points into the gaming industry - you don’t have to be a developer!”
Paula Ingvar

The dedication of our team, especially the puzzle setters who meticulously balance challenge and fun, has been instrumental in keeping the game fresh and engaging. I sit near them in the office, and they take such personal pride in their work, drawing heavily on both data and player feedback.

You've had an amazing journey with King. Is there any advice you would offer to others looking to pursue a career in games?

From my experience, I wish I had known sooner that there are many entry points into the gaming industry - you don’t have to be a developer! It took me a while to understand that I had something valuable to add, but with curiosity and hard work, it’s certainly possible. My advice is to be open-minded and understand the value of your transferable skills. Believe it or not, sometimes I still draw on my traffic engineering experience!

Finally, is there a particular achievement you are most proud of so far in your career, and is there anything we should be on the lookout for next from your work at King?

One of my proudest moments was leading a level-design workshop at our all-employee conference in 2019. Everyone - from Finance to Marketing - got to design their own levels, and this created huge appreciation across the business for our core craft, which brought me so much joy.

As for the future, look out for the next evolution of Soda! We are excited to celebrate our 10th anniversary and are committed to continuing to innovate to delight our players around the world.