When it first launched a year ago, it was too easy to overlook Candy Crush Saga. This free Match-3 game looked like Bejeweled with a Candyland makeover, but after a year of topping the App Store charts, we couldn’t ignore Candy Crush any longer. Here’s our long-overdue analysis of how Candy Crush has crushed the competition to become one of iOS’s biggest moneymakers.
The secret of Candy Crush’s appeal is in its novel monetization system, which rewards patience by giving players an extra life every half an hour, up to five total. This allows players to start playing the game for free, trip up on challenging levels, and then either wait to resume playing, or pay to continue. You can also send out requests for extra lives to your Facebook friends, which allows the game to spread virally across social media.
While these arbitrary time limits are designed to disrupt your game, they also offer an extremely fair deal for players. Candy Crush gets millions of users actively checking in on their app throughout the day, and players get over 400 levels for free, if they’ve got the skills and patience to power through them all. This is how Candy Crush has built an empire that, according to one jealous app developer who we spoke to, earns King.com over a million dollars a day.
Candy Crush also contains unique social experiences that make it feel more personalized. As you progress through the levels, you’ll be able to view the progress of your friends who have signed in through Facebook. In addition to their placement on the map, you can see their high scores, giving you an extra incentive to replay levels.
The levels themselves are remarkably varied. Like Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get. The levels are all variations of match-3 conventions, like sinking a certain tile to the bottom of the screen, eliminating the “jelly” tiles within a certain number of matches, or reaching a high score with limited time. With Candy Crush’s outstanding menus and backgrounds, these never feel stale.
Tying the entire package together is a bright and appealing visual style, with colorful tiles consisting of sweets such as gummies, gumdrops, and jelly beans. Like Bejeweled’s glittering gems, you can never get enough candy in your life, and watching rows of treats fly by satisfies a greedy hunger that players may never even realize they had.
Candy Crush Saga has reached astronomical success on the App Store not just because it does one or two things right. It‘s successful because it does everything right, from the cheery visuals to the fast gameplay mechanics and overall balance. This Must Have app is perfect for a quick few minutes of entertainment, and it will also make you want to sit down and play through it as much as possible. Candy Crush’s greatest trick is not just providing a great gameplay experience, but in making players feel like they owe money for having such a good time.