Spouting a fountain of cash, King sees 2014 sales up 20% to $2.4 billion

More players, less payers but they're paying more

Spouting a fountain of cash, King sees 2014 sales up 20% to $2.4 billion

Facebook and mobile game publisher King (NYSE:KING) has announced its FY14 financials, for the 12 months ending 31 December 2014.

GAAP revenue for 2014 was $2.4 billion, up 20 percent compared to 2013.

King doesn't break out the platform split for GAAP revenue, but mobile accounts for around 75 percent of its revenue.

Profit was $575 million, up 1 percent year-on-year.

Despite paying out $364 million in dividends and launching a $150 million share buyback scheme, King ended the year with cash and equivalents of $964 million.

This is up $555 million from a year ago. King generated $661 million of net cash during 2014.

The company will also pay out another dividend worth $300 million during March 2015.

Mixed quarter

During the year, King launched three games on Facebook and five on mobile. Four of the mobile games were top 15 top grossing games in the US, which is King's biggest market.

Looking at King's FY14 Q4, revenue was $546 million, down 9 percent year-on-year, but up 6 percent quarter-on-quarter.

The release of Candy Crush Soda Saga boosted franchise DAUs

Q4 profit was $141 million, down 12 percent year-on-year and down 1 percent quarter-on-quarter.

During the quarter, King had three top 10 top grossing games in the US App Store and four top 10 top grossing games in the US Google Play charts.

Non-Candy Crush Saga revenues in Q4 were $324 million or 55 percent of Q4 total gross bookings.

Big reach

Breaking down King's audience, the launch of Candy Crush Soda Saga resulted in the Candy Crush franchise growing its daily active userbase quarter-on-quarter.

More generally, King's games had 149 million daily active players, up 20 percent compared to the same period in 2013. Monthly active players were up 31 percent.

Unique payers were down 32% to 8.3 million, but average bookings were up to $23.42 per payer

However, when it comes to King's paying players, there were two contrary trends.

The number of unique payers was down 32 percent to 8.3 million, while the amount they paid (technically described by the unwieldy term Monthly gross average bookings per unique user) was up 35 percent to $23.42.

King says both were due to its introduction of virtual currency across its games.

Going live

In terms of expanding its audience, King announced it had purchased Seattle developer Z2Live.

It paid $45 million in cash, with a further $105 million due depending on the performance of future games.

One of the original core F2P mobile developers, Z2Live is best known for its Trade Nations trading sims and air combat franchise MetalStorm. It also operates racing game Nitro and military sim Battle Nations.

King commented that the acquisition, gave it a proven team focused on contributing to diversification into new genres.

It also pointed out Z2 would be its first studio in the US. In 2014, King bought Singapore-based midcore developer Nonstop in deal worth up to $100 million.

[source: King]

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A Pocket Gamer co-founder, Jon is Contributing Editor at which means he acts like a slightly confused uncle who's forgotten where he's left his glasses. As well as letters and cameras, he likes imaginary numbers and legumes.