King.com, the maker of mobile game Candy Crush Saga, has filed for a "secret" IPO in the U.S., according to The Telegraph.
The public offering of stock promises to be the biggest casual game company deal since EA bought PopCap in 2011 for $1.3 billion.
The Telegraph notes:
Few financial details are available, but it was turning over around £300m at the start of this year and has grown rapidly since then. Its games were played an average of 300m times a month in 2011 but that figure now tops 30bn, helped by the success of Candy Crush Saga, which is the most popular game played on Facebook.
Turnover is the U.K. term for total topline revenues.
Smaller companies with revenues of less than $1 billion annually are allowed to file S-1 papers confidentially with the SEC in the U.S. After a quiet period, the S-1 will eventually be unveiled for public scrutiny.
Twitter recently did the same thing.
The fact that King believes it can make a market for its equity among ordinary investors shows the addictive power of "match-three" games. The original match-three variant was PopCap's Bejeweled. Its format has been copied and, in King's case, arguably improved by Candy Crush, which features 300 or more increasingly bizarre levels in which players must match three identical fruits on a checkered board in order to make them disappear.
In the U.S., game IPOs have had a rocky recent history. They cycle on fads and trends.
Take Zynga, for instance. In Q1 2013, its revenue declined 17% to $264 million, as users got bored of Farmville and Zynga Poker. 520 workers lost their jobs. Zynga acquired OMGPop for $180 million in 2012, to obtain its super hot Draw Something app brand. In 2013, it laid off the entire OMGPop staff. Few play Draw Something now. ZNGA once traded at more than $14 but now sits around $3.61. Zynga's Q2 2013 revenue fell to $231 million, down another 31% year-over-year.
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