SHANGHAI, April 16 Chinese tech giant Tencent
Holdings Ltd will launch a Chinese version of King
Digital Entertainment Plc's explosively popular "Candy
Crush Saga" game in China, as the UK-based mobile games maker
looks to woo new users to support flagging sales in the United
States and Europe.
The web-based game, which involves lining up colourful
candies, will roll out through Tencent's Mobile QQ and Weixin
platforms. Weixin, or WeChat, had 225 million active users in
January, according to Beijing-based consultancy iResearch.
"Tencent has the largest mobile social network in China,"
King Digital Chief Executive Riccardo Zacconi said in a
statement, adding that he hoped the tie-up would make Candy
Crush "as popular in China as in the rest of the world".
Candy Crush, which brought in about $493 million in the last
three months of 2013 alone, has topped sales charts around the
world and was one of the most downloaded apps in 2013, according
to King Digital's IPO registration filing this year.
The tie-up will also help Tencent, China's biggest listed
Internet company, attract users to its wide array of online and
mobile offerings, ranging from social media platforms to online
Tencent is locked in a fierce battle for online supremacy in
China with IPO-bound rival Alibaba Group Holding. IPO-ALIB.N
Tencent has also been making forays into the online game
market, snapping up a stake of 28 percent in South Korean mobile
gaming firm CJ Games for $500 million in March.
Candy Crush, a free game that makes money by selling virtual
items to gamers, has suffered a fall from grace. Its gross
bookings have started to dwindle, significant because it
accounts for close to 80 percent of King Digital's total.
Shares in King Digital fell as much as 16 percent when they
debuted in late March, underscoring investor concern about the
company's reliance on the game and wider scepticism over a
notoriously fickle and volatile market.
The New York listing was the largest U.S. tech initial
public offering since gaming company Zynga Inc went
public in 2011.
But with around 93 million daily average users last year,
the game could help lure China's more than 500 million mobile
internet users to Tencent's platforms. Tencent is more than
one-third owned by South African publishers Naspers Ltd
The collaboration "will combine King's enjoyable mobile
gaming experience and Tencent's strong game publishing and
operation capabilities in China," Tencent Senior Vice President
Steven Ma said in the statement.
"We are looking forward to bringing great moments of fun to
Chinese users soon."
(Reporting by Adam Jourdan; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)