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It’s up there as one of the most irritating things about Facebook – along with the fact your entire extended family just joined. A few years ago, FarmVille invitation notifications were the scourge of the social network (I don’t want to play with virtual sheep, but thank you) – now it is invites to play the puzzle game Candy Crush Saga. But there is hope. Mark Zuckerberg has announced at a question-and-answer session that his team of developers are working on a solution. The top-rated comment, with 7,500 likes, in response to Zuckerberg’s call-out for users’ questions before his talk at the the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Delhi was a straight-to-the-point: “I don’t want any more invitations to Candy Crush. How can I stop it?” When the question was read out at the talk, people cheered. “This is where these Town Hall Q&As are really useful because I actually saw this question, that it was the top voted question on my thread,” Zuckerberg said. “So I sent a message to the person who runs the team in charge of our developer platform and I said by the time I do this Town Hall Q&A, I think it would be good if we had a solution to this problem.” In response to a wider question about games notifications being an annoyance for people who don’t play games on Facebook, Zuckerberg added: “We hadn’t prioritised shutting that down because we just had other priorities but if this is the top thing that people care about then we’ll prioritise that and we’ll do it.” Zuckerberg didn’t elaborate further on how the changes would work in practice, and the maker of Candy Crush Saga, King, hasn’t commented. Candy Crush Saga remains a mobile gaming phenomenon: the top grossing app worldwide on both Apple’s App Store and Android’s Google Play store according to analytics firm Distimo. Now the game’s publisher, King, has revealed its latest milestone: 500m installations of Candy Crush Saga across mobile devices and Facebook. The game launched on the social network in April 2012, and was then ported to mobile in November that year.The 500m figure was announced to celebrate the one-year anniversary of that mobile debut, although King hasn’t provided any stats on how many active players Candy Crush Saga has, or how much money it’s making. The most regularly-quoted figure comes from US company Think Gaming, which claims the free-to-play game is generating more than $875,000 a day from in-app purchases on iOS in the US alone, based on 5.4 million daily active users (DAUs) there. But this is just an estimate, as was the recent claim by Michael Acton Smith, CEO of games firm Mind Candy, that Candy Crush Saga had “made about $180m in the last six months”. In September, King said that Candy Crush Saga was being played 700m times a day on mobile devices alone, with that figure accounting for 70% of the company’s 1bn daily plays for all its games across Facebook and mobile. King is expected to file for an initial public offering (IPO) on the back of the game’s success, with reports in September that it was using the same US financial rules that Twitter used for its IPO to keep the filing secret until just before its “roadshow” for potential investors.
Candy Crush Saga has some way to go to become the most popular mobile game franchise in the world. Yesterday, at the Slush conference in Finland, Rovio announced that its Angry Birds games have now been downloaded more than 2bn times. However, Rovio’s revenues of €152.2m ($204.8m) for the whole of 2012 suggests that King is likely making more money. The company’s next challenge is to follow up Candy Crush Saga. The first successor on mobile, Pet Rescue Saga, is gathering a head of steam of its own, with Distimo claiming it was the fifth top grossing game globally on Apple’s App Store in October. King is also preparing to release another of its Facebook games, Papa Pear Saga, for smartphones and tablets. The game was due to be released in October but the launch was put back at the last minute.But if Zuckerberg implements changes that also stop our grandmothers asking us to play online Scrabble, it’s a win for us all.