Candy Crush: An Analysis

My name is Jordan and I have a Candy Crush addiction. I’m currently on level 3451 and am blissfully unaware of the amount of money I’ve spent on it. It started when I was in high school and I was trying to kick my Starbucks addiction, so logically I found a new one. In case you’ve been under a rock for the past ten years, Candy Crush Saga is a free-to-play match-three puzzle video game released by King on April 12, 2012.

Originally released on Facebook, other versions are available for iOS, Android, Windows Phone, and Windows 10. In the game, players complete levels by swapping colored pieces of candy on a game board to make a match of three or more of the same color, eliminating those candies from the board and replacing them with new ones, which could potentially create further matches. Each level has a goal that must be completed within a fixed number of moves, such as a certain score or collecting a specific number of a type of candy.

The company King, also known as Limited and King Digital Entertainment, is a Maltese video game developer and publisher based in Malta that specializes in social games. Founded in August 2003, King was acquired by Activision Blizzard in February 2016 for $5.9 billion and operates as its own entity within that company. As of 2017, King employs 2,000 people.

Candy Crush is considered one of the first and most successful uses of a freemium model; while the game can be played completely through without spending money, players can buy special actions to help clear more difficult levels, from which King makes its revenues—at its peak the company was reportedly earning almost $1 million per day. Around 2014, over 93 million people were playing Candy Crush Saga, while revenue over a three-month period as reported by King was over $493 million. Five years after its release on mobile, the Candy Crush Saga series has received over 2.7 billion downloads, and the game has been one of the highest-grossing and most-played mobile apps in that time frame.

The app is considered to be an addictive game as it uses a compulsion loop that provides pleasurable reinforcement the more one plays. The game was investigated by the UK Office of Fair Trading concerning exploitative game mechanics with regards to younger users, but it still remains as the top-grossing mobile game of all time in the United Kingdom. Candy Crush has also had its share of controversies; King filed applications for trademarks on the words “candy” and “saga” with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. News of these pending trademarks raised concerns from other developers, who feared that King would use their trademark to intimidate smaller developers. In response, King decided not to pursue the trademark. Another controversy involved the mobile game known as CandySwipe, a mobile game created two years before Candy Crush that had many similarities. The maker of CandySwipe, Albert Ransom, issued a statement in February 2014 claiming that King intentionally copied elements from his own game. While details weren’t given, Ransom stated that he had amicably resolved the matter with King by April of that year.

Proponents of Candy Crush argue that not only is the game fun, but that it increases dopamine levels and improves cognitive behavior, but honestly, I think the same thing could be said about gambling. However, for the majority of people, Candy Crush is a harmless way to spend time. I joke that I’m addicted to it, but it doesn’t get in the way of my success at school or relationships with friends and family. I might have spent some money on it, but it’s such a small amount that hasn’t built up over time. I think this is the case for most users. There might be the rare person that spends their life’s savings on it or shuts out their family and friends, but these cases are so few and far between.

As always, when it comes to any form of media, knowing the facts and being aware of the potential consequences is essential. By doing this, we protect ourselves and stay safe.

Until next week,

Jordan Price

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