On Tuesday, mobile gamemaker King Entertainment released its long-awaited Candy Crush sequel. At its peak popularity in 2013, the original Candy Crush was the most popular app in the world with over 45 million users, twice as many as Pinterest had at the time. Now King is hoping it can port Candy Crush's popularity from virtual app stores to brick-and-mortar shopping malls.
New York-based womenswear retailer Zara Terez has partnered with King to launch a clothing collection featuring Candy Crush's vibrant design aesthetic. A pair of leggings adorned with Odus the owl retails for a mere $78; a skater dress covered with multi-hued confections will set you back $114.
"We've been very careful with what merchandise we create," King's Chief Creative Office Sebastian Knutsson tells Wired UK. "It's about creating a loyal player-base, not creating a business line."
This official collaboration is not the first time that a mobile game has leveraged its viral popularity to launch tie-in opportunities and boost a game's presence beyond the smartphone screen.
Rovio, the creator of Angry Birds, practically rivaled the likes of Disney and Nintendo for creating far-reaching tie-ins off the back of one incredibly successful mobile game. Angry Birds addicts can now get their fix with plush toys, beanies, board games, t-shirts, costumes, an animated series and a cookbook (only egg recipes, of course).
In a matter of months, Angry Birds became a household name with each product contributing to an overall sense of cultural ubiquity. While it can be argued that Rovio's too-many Angry Birds tie-ins might have actually diluted the brand, there's something to be said for striking while the frying pan is hot.
Brand fatigue is always a risk for hit franchises. But mobile game crazes like Candy Crush, Angry Birds and Words With Friends don't come around often, and they typically don't maintain their peak popularity for very long.
Just ask Zynga.
In 2012 the Farmville gamemaker paid $200 million to acquire OMGPop, the creator of Draw Something. The social drawing game was downloaded 50 million times right up to the acquistion. Shortly after, however, and with no rhyme or reason besides social gaming fatigue, Draw Something's popularity petered out. Zynga eventually partnered with Hasbro to launch Draw Something and other of its best-known titles as board games.