King has been making headlines lately thanks to trademark claims that are, frankly, insane. But it looks like the creators of Candy Crush Saga are doing something right: the Wall Street Journal reports that the company is filing for an initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange, preparing to sell as much as $500 million in initial stock.
King's collection of simple Facebook, iOS, and Android games are almost entirely driven by the free-to-play model, with headliner Candy Crush Saga being downloaded more than 100 million times on Android alone. The company has also become a lightning rod for controversy ever since it won extremely broad trademark claims on the term "Candy" (applied to video games and clothing) in January. It earned even more ire from gamers after filing to block the trademark for The Banner Saga, a Viking-themed strategy game for the PC that bears no resemblance to any of its properties. Other bruises on the company's image include various accusations of blatantly copied games. The creator of Candy Swipe, which predates Candy Crush by two years, claims that King purchased the rights to an even earlier game in order to invalidate his own trademark filing against the company.
An IPO is good for an influx of quick cash, but it might not be a good strategy for a company which has risen so quickly in the highly changeable casual game market. Take Zynga, the former "king" of Facebook games: after an IPO in 2012, their stock price is roughly one third of its $15 high point, thanks in part to waning interest in former hits like Draw Something and Words With Friends. Tellingly, Angry Birds developer Rovio seems to have little interest in an IPO.
King has been around since 2002, but has seen a meteoric rise in popularity with the debut of Candy Crush Saga and other free-to-play games. In 2012 the company reported a profit of $7.8 million, which grew over 7,000% in 2013 to $567 million. Currently King hasn't settled on its initial stock price or market valuation.
Source: The Wall Street Journal