Why Candy Crush Saga is such a total con

candycrush

Written like that, it’s a statement rather than a question. Is it a fact? Not particularly but it’s my opinion and there’s enough compelling evidence out there to back it up.

Candy Crush is played by 93 million people every day, and it accrues an estimated $800,000 daily through players purchasing new lives and boosters that help them to conquer new levels. All told, half a billion people have downloaded the free app, and King Digital Entertainment, the company behind the phenomenon, reportedly netted $568m last year alone.

Players have spent 73 billion hours – or 8.3 million years – playing Candy Crush Saga since its launch in 2012. The game has been played on all seven continents, including Antarctica, and players have swiped a total distance of 167 million miles. That’s enough swipes to travel from the Earth to Mars five times. In other words, a lot of candies have been crushed.

A1DKCjIVaUL.jpg

The mobile app was also one of the first examples of the ‘freemium’ model, meaning that the game is free to download and can be played without spending any money. However, players have the option to spend real money on in-game purchases for things like power-ups. It’s something we’re used to seeing now in many popular games, like Fortnite, and it’s even a move the most established series are making – you need only take a look at the upcoming Call Of Duty: Mobile to feel the free-to-play model’s influence.

‘You can play the game completely free if you want to,’ executive producer Andreas Olofsson told Metro. ‘That opens it up for more people to test it out and see if it’s for them, rather than paying an upfront payment.’

So this is my first point of call when panning this world of fruit, jelly and headaches because you are bombarded with ‘deals’ for boosters in order to make faster progress.

Why would you want to pay for a game or an app when it’s supposedly a free-to-play like other games?

candy-crush1

The sad truth is though that people do and King makes zillions of bucks fleecing us with this game that is rigged to fuck and frankly, has many many levels that are impossible to do, mostly because you have way too few moves.

King are very clever in what they do and there’s no law preventing them doing it, just that there is zero help from support. Ask anyone who’s ever emailed them by a contact form.

You’ll be very lucky indeed to receive a response and all you have online for help is forums where people are at their wits end complaining that they can’t do these puzzles.

What you need to understand first and foremost is how it actually works. The levels are designed (aside the first one hundred that are easy and the ones that lure you in) so that you will just have to wait for the ‘lucky’ board. Every level has one. When it comes you will get through instantly and you’re left scratching your head in bewilderment as to why it has taken three weeks of your life.

Key-Art--770x433

Let’s take combinations or combos for example. A level asks you to connect a striped candy with a jelly four times in a level. You arrange the combo but before you can activate it the whole lot just explodes across the screen.

When I realised what it was doing and how it was set up, it became obvious on each go that the board was lame and often I would quit the level after as little as give turns, simply because you can tell you’re being mugged off.

Frankly Candy Crush Saga has little or no skill involved, you may just as well play a slot machine… though you’d need cash for that and this is what King want you to do.

You can collect gold bars, sure, which you can exchange for more lives but if you want to play longer the emphasis is… PAY.

My answer is… DON’T.

Cosmic-Climb-key-art-770x433

Candy Crush Saga has 272 million monthly active players, and according to King’s Alex Dale more than 9 million of them play for more than three hours a day. A figure so shocking, when he revealed it to MPs last week, that King retracted the statement, citing it as ‘inaccurate’.

And yet the figures will not surprise many, who understand how the game has found a sweet spot between relaxation and challenge that makes it the go-to in casual gaming; a distraction for people on their commute or while double-screening in front of the TV. These players are also kept active with the huge volume of new content always being introduced to the game.

New features are released for the game every second week, and new levels are released in between those. It really is called Candy Crush Saga for a reason, and despite controversies around the model, the team behind it have no plans for changing their approach. ‘We built this as a Saga game that wasn’t supposed to end,’ says Sommestad.

Level_408_V3_HTML5

‘We had a plan from the beginning that we should build a game where we can continue to deliver levels to our players.’ ‘The game has really evolved a lot; it’s not the same game that we launched with 65 levels, back in 2012. I think that’s helped us to stay relevant. But we need to keep innovating and find new ways of staying relevant to entertain our players,’ they added.

The company has already experimented with Candy Crush in virtual reality. ‘Yes, we experimented a bit with that. But the challenge that we see right now with that is more in research and design. There’s not a lot of people that have it,’ explains Sommestad. ‘Maybe augmented reality, that’s something that I can see us doing more of in the future.

Maybe we’ll bring something like that into Candy Crush at some point… we’ve done some experimentation in that area, but nothing that we’re ready to bring to the table.’ ‘If the tech gets you there, then you should probably use it,’ says Olofsson with regards to augmented reality.

‘But I don’t agree with the notion that you should start with tech and then build the game around it. I think you should start with what makes the game fun, and then try to use whatever is needed in order to get there.’

Candy Crush’s 5,000th level in-game event will be available to all players above level 10 with a minimum app version of 1.152 on Apple App Store, Google Play Store, Microsoft Windows, App Store, and Amazon Appstore.

Commentary by myself AND Rebecca April May via Metro online