King's fortunes falter as Candy Crush Saga grows older

Newly-acquired Activision Blizzard subsidiary King has reported its revenues for its holiday quarter as well as its full 2015 fiscal year, and everything seems to be trending downward.

Newly-acquired Activision Blizzard subsidiary King has reported its revenues for its holiday quarter, the three months ended December 31, 2015, as well as its full 2015 fiscal year, and everything seems to be trending downward.

The (non-GAAP) numbers are notable, so let's start with the quarterly results: Payments made by players in King's free-to-play games (what the company calls "gross bookings") fell year-over-year, down to $509 million from $586 million it saw in the same period a year prior.

King blames the drop on a few things, including fluctuations in currency value, but it primarily places blame on the decline in gross bookings from its more mature games -- including company flagship Candy Crush Saga.

"The year over year decreases in both gross bookings and revenue were primarily due to lower gross bookings from our more mature games, in particular Candy Crush Saga," read an excerpt of the company's earnings report, which went on to note that the drop was "partially offset by increased gross bookings from our newer games, in particular Candy Crush Soda Saga."

The company still posted a $91 million profit for the quarter, though that's $50 million less than it reaped in profits during the same quarter a year prior.

During its fourth quarter King also saw year-over-year drops in both its daily and monthly active users (down 21 million/14 percent and 84 million/16 percent year over year, respectively), which it once again blamed on the growing age of its popular games -- most notably, again, Candy Crush Saga, which was first released in 2012. More of the decline is among web players than mobile players, something King believes is tied to the general decline of Facebook desktop game players.

Incidentally, the company said much the same thing three months ago to explain similar drops in monthly and daily active players.

King also saw a year-over-year drop in revenue and profits for the full 2015 year, though it still managed to report an adjusted profit $617 million on $2.02 billion in revenue. That's quite a chunk of change, but it's a bit smaller than the $738 million profit it reaped from adjusted revenues of $2.38 billion in 2014.

The company also saw a relatively minor slide in active player counts in 2015 compared to the prior year, slipping to 494 million monthly active users and 141 million daily active users from the 499 million and 142 million (respectively) it saw in 2014. 

However, the company reports a marked year-over-year uptick in in how much its getting out of each paying player; in 2015 King's monthly gross average bookings per paying user hit $24.20, up from $20.21 the year prior.

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