The addictive game Candy Crush has been loaded 500 million times onto iPhones, Android phones and other mobile devices. The maker of this massive hit, King Digital Entertainment, a tiny Swedish outfit that has been in operation for over ten years, rode the wave of excitement into a stock IPO two months ago. Like Zynga, King uses the so-called freemium model whereby the game is given away for free but users pay for extras such as lives, merchandise, gifts in-game. The business model is wildly successful and cuts across gaming genres with examples such as Clash of Clans, Plants vs. Zombies, League of Legends.
In Candy Crush, players face a game board covered in candies. Each candy is moved only if there is an empty slot next to it. Using a finger to swipe across in any direction, players match three or more candies which immediately “crushes” them and causes the candies above to shift and generate a new configuration. Combinations happen if more than 3 candies are matched by the swiping motion. The game is very difficult at times, and players are encouraged to get candy crush tips when stuck on a level.
Many reasons have been given as to why the game is so effective and addictive to players. One of them is that the game makes the player wait, a long time. In the beginning the player has 5 lives. But when these get used up, the game pauses for 30 seconds to continue. If you don’t want to wait, you can pay a little money. This is one source of revenue. The game is also very social. Payment occurs either through the app store or Facebook. But more than that, one can play against or cooperate with friends through a social media platform.
Others have noted that the game was designed so that it could even be played with one hand. That means players don’t put it down when walking on the street, getting into a train or bus, and even sitting at the table eating breakfast. These reasons coupled with the fact that the game is constantly updated means that players satisfy their urges on a very basic level easily with a simple game app.
The IPO comes at a time when many investors believe the market is frothy, i.e. in the midst of a bubble. But the very fact that the word bubble is mentioned suggests that there is a correction underway. After all, the market is supporting the entry of giants such as Twitter and Alibaba, the Chinese behemoth whose business model is a blend of Google, Ebay, and Amazon.
King has produced other games such as Farm Heroes Saga and Pet Rescue Saga but none match the popularity of Candy Crush. Because of the hit, its earnings went up 70 fold to make it a half-billion dollar revenue company. Using these earnings the company quickly expanded and now has offices in Europe and the United States. King has worked hard to avoid the fall experienced by its rival Zynga which was famous for Farmville and other Facebook games but recently struggled with declining revenue and reshuffling of its executive team. By linking the game account to a player’s Facebook account, King ensures that the game acquires a social aspect while remaining on an easily-accessible mobile platform.
If you haven’t picked up this addictive game yet, then why not download here. King has been praised for being meticulous designers who know how to create a quality product. Even if you don’t feel like spending your entertainment time on Candy Crush, you should check it out for its status as a cultural phenomenon.
(Photo Credit: John St John / Creative Commons)