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Why is Candy Crush so Successful?


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#1 Dan Violet Sagmiller   Members   -  Reputation: 897

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Posted 18 March 2014 - 05:13 AM

I've been studying Candy Crush lately, looking for reasons why it is successful beyond so many other Swap games (Is there a better description for the genre?) it is similar to.  After a while, I started realising that they put pressure making the parts that are proven fun as good as any other, and added features to really keep you pulled back in.

 

Here are some of the things I've come up with, but I'm hoping to increase the perspectives on this, and also what you hate about it (try to keep the positive and negative specific please :).

1.  The basic swapping of adjacent tiles to connect a pattern of 3 is a pattern that the human mind is incredibly capable of doing.  

 - It is a satisfying experience, the player can see what they can do, and constantly prove it out.

 - The training level is minimal, the simplistic nature of the game allows you start fast, and apply easily.

 

2.  Unlike many other Swap Games, Candy Crush, provides a variety of challenges.

 - Some pieces can't move, and must either have patterns made next to it, or have it be part of a pattern to be destroyed.

 - The jelly forces combinations in particular areas of the map, assigning more value to completing the puzzle in that area.

 - Some required destruction areas are inaccessible to patterns of three.  I.e. you must make power pieces that have larger effects on the board.

 

3.  Lasting Power Pieces give more abilities. (Wipe out a line, blow up an area, etc.)

 - In other similar games I've played, the powerups were uncommon, but these pieces give added power by their use in normal puzzles.

 - They also offer more power if you can combine power pieces, including only in pairs.

 - - They missed Bomb + donut.  I'm betting that seemed too powerful to convert every similar color into a bomb.  Any other thoughts on why that was skipped?

 

4.  Slow but fast menus.

 - I've payed games where is takes more than 10 seconds to navigate menus, even though its just one menu.  I.e. level loading time took a while, menus where just unresponsive.  

 - their menus are fast, and it seems like it helps force a cool down on the mind.  Despite the menus being fast, there are still many of them.  

 

5.  Limited Lives

 - this makes sense from a monetary stand point, but increasing the lives cost 99 cents.  5 lives..  They have really pushed the envelope with prices, but it worked.  Personally, I haven't spent a dime.  but I can see the constant reasons that pressure us into wanting to to pay.  More lives, more turns, more time, power up pieces, 1 click fixes  I.e. we are so close, I only need to spend 99 cents and I could complete this level.  As the lives dwindle down, they become more precious.

 - It seems like on your last round they could have milked more out of their customers by pointing out you are on your last life when you start the round.

 

 

I have a lot of other ideas on this, but I have to go to my day job.  Please let me know your ideas on this.  What works and why?  (preferably avoid the rants, but it is candy crush, so I understand that might not be avoidable.  :)


Moltar - "Do you even know how to use that?"

Space Ghost - “Moltar, I have a giant brain that is able to reduce any complex machine into a simple yes or no answer."

Dan - "Best Description of AI ever."

My Game(s), Warp Wars is in early development and can be found here: http://blog.WarpWars.Net.


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#2 Hodgman   Moderators   -  Reputation: 31830

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Posted 18 March 2014 - 05:27 AM

Marketing.



#3 ambershee   Members   -  Reputation: 528

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Posted 18 March 2014 - 06:22 AM

^ This.

 

A combination of marketing, consumer ignorance (since mobile games like this are targeting a demographic less familiar with consumer friendly monetisation models), luck, and a certain amount of critical mass.

 

...but mostly marketing.



#4 Buster2000   Members   -  Reputation: 1775

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Posted 18 March 2014 - 06:23 AM


s there a better description for the genre?

 

I think the official name for this genre is "Match 3".

 

Why is is so successful.  Probably the same reason Bejeweled was.  Bejeweled and Bejeweled Blitz were massive a few years ago with tons and tons of games being played over facebook.  Candy Crush is just Bejeweled with more features.  Better Social integration, more Achievments, more game types and of course In App Purchaes.

 


Marketing

 

I don't actually remember seeing any Candy Crush marketing.



#5 Olof Hedman   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 2949

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Posted 18 March 2014 - 06:51 AM

To just accredit it to marketing is simplifying it a bit too much I think. 

If so, what kind of marketing?

 

Accrediting it to consumer ignorance is a bit condescending... I'm sure even candy crush players are fully capable of deciding if they enjoy doing something or not, and where, when and how they want to do it.

 

You could analyse it from many angles, though I don't think there is much point in going into specific game features.

 

Here's a few random thoughts.

 

It's a good choice of genre for a mass market game, it's proven that many enjoy match-games.

Plus square grids are familiar from popular pen-and-paper games such as sudoku and crosswords.

 

They have identified a large target group, which not many other game makers have targeted, (females between 25 and 45) and they have worked a lot on making the game more attractive to this group.

 

(social integration is a part of that)

 

They have made sure to make the game very replayable, it takes a long time to solve all the puzzles and variations, this means more player time, which means more opportunities of friends getting curious, which help with marketing...



#6 arka80   Members   -  Reputation: 1061

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Posted 18 March 2014 - 07:25 AM

I don't actually remember seeing any Candy Crush marketing.

 

 

Here in Italy there was also a TV spot. I haven't a device capable of playing CCS, but I know the game! This is marketing ph34r.png


Edited by arka80, 18 March 2014 - 07:26 AM.


#7 Durakken   Members   -  Reputation: 535

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Posted 18 March 2014 - 07:38 AM

It's successful because people want to be on top in things that they think they are good at, even when they know they're not on top....

 

Basically it goes like this...

Bejeweled comes out...

Bejeweled get's popular...

There is an undisputed top player in Bejeweled...

All players beneath that player have varying levels of whether they can beat that top player...

Bejeweled clone comes out...

Lower ranked players from Bejeweled who recognize they can't reach the top start playing the clone...

The clone becomes popular...

Competitive players start playing the clone

A top player in the clone is set 

 

And the cycle starts again. Also sometimes the top player moves on to set a new top rank in a new game cuz they like to do that, they are looking for new competition, or they are looking for a new challenge...when it's not any of those things the top player may still play just so they can psychologically not believe they were suckered into wasting their money along with other people and another defense strategy is to bring more people in as if more people spent money on the trash then it must hold value, even if you think it is trash you can say, "I was fooled by everyone else saying it was different/good"

 

Not really all that difficult... there are more factors, but that's probably the main thing that happens.



#8 Buster2000   Members   -  Reputation: 1775

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Posted 18 March 2014 - 11:08 AM


Buster2000, on 18 Mar 2014 - 12:23 PM, said:

Dan Violet Sagmiller, on 18 Mar 2014 - 11:13 AM, said:

I don't actually remember seeing any Candy Crush marketing.





Here in Italy there was also a TV spot. I haven't a device capable of playing CCS, but I know the game! This is marketing ph34r.png

 

Here in the UK it is also marketed on TV but, the comercials didnt actually come out until after it had been massive and then started to die down.



#9 Dan Violet Sagmiller   Members   -  Reputation: 897

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Posted 18 March 2014 - 02:34 PM

Thanks for all the replies.  I have to agree with Buster.  I've seen a commercial once, but it was well after they were pulling in massive finances from player interactions.


Moltar - "Do you even know how to use that?"

Space Ghost - “Moltar, I have a giant brain that is able to reduce any complex machine into a simple yes or no answer."

Dan - "Best Description of AI ever."

My Game(s), Warp Wars is in early development and can be found here: http://blog.WarpWars.Net.


#10 Durakken   Members   -  Reputation: 535

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Posted 18 March 2014 - 02:39 PM

 


Buster2000, on 18 Mar 2014 - 12:23 PM, said:

Dan Violet Sagmiller, on 18 Mar 2014 - 11:13 AM, said:

I don't actually remember seeing any Candy Crush marketing.





Here in Italy there was also a TV spot. I haven't a device capable of playing CCS, but I know the game! This is marketing ph34r.png

 

Here in the UK it is also marketed on TV but, the comercials didnt actually come out until after it had been massive and then started to die down.

 

 

The commercials are likely a result of trying to support their BS attempts at trying to trademark/copyright Candy or Saga depending on what country.



#11 wintertime   Members   -  Reputation: 1877

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Posted 18 March 2014 - 05:23 PM

Here the TV ads were shown regularly way before that "scandal" (and there is nearly no TV shows talking about games so people hearing about it from TV will not know).

I don't really remember the slogan, but it felt as if it was targeted at women who dont play games regularly. That way they probably got people who don't know what else to switch to and stay addicted.



#12 Matias Goldberg   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3697

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Posted 18 March 2014 - 05:49 PM

The game is already addictive and well executed. Points for that.

 

If you combine this with unethical viral marketing methods (unless extremely skilled, players are forced to pay or disturb share to all of their facebook contacts in order to advance) you pretty much find the recipe for short term success(*).

 

(*) Short term here is not measured in time, but rather in the capacity from a company to make its clients to come back and buy again.



#13 Hodgman   Moderators   -  Reputation: 31830

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Posted 18 March 2014 - 11:03 PM

Marketing

I don't actually remember seeing any Candy Crush marketing.

The game originally launched on Facebook, with the whole design that in order to play that game, you basically had to spam all your friends. They forced players into advertising for them. On top of that, they spent a huge amount of money on actual facebook advertising. There was a period of time where my "FB news" feed was constantly full of idiot friends playing that game, and the advertising side-bar was full of ads for it.
Then when they launched iOS and android versions, they hugely abused a flaw in the mobile browsers that would let them redirect users from their web-browser to the AppStore app from a banner ad (e.g. you load a news article, King has a banner ad there, BAM, all of a sudden your out of Safari and in the AppStore, on the download page for Candy Crush. WTF).

It's designed to fill a particular niche very well, it "went viral" well, and they also got very lucky. I'm sure there's 100 other similar games that didn't break even on their dev costs, let alone bring in $1M/day...

#14 TechnoGoth   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 2797

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Posted 19 March 2014 - 04:27 PM

Yes candy crush, is just like many of the other break out hit mobile games they hit a critical mass and that success continues to breed more and more success until every who is likely to play them is playing them.  There is a pretty established curve for technology adoption.

 

DiffusionOfInnovation.png

 

There is also an area known as the chasm between early adopters and early majority which is considered the biggest challenge in product growth. If you can cross the chasm then the adoption sky rockets very quickly.

 

The problem that seems consistent across the facebook and mobile space is maintaining the audience over time, and very few of the companies that produce these hit games have managed to replicate their success. After all does anyone still play Draw Anything?



#15 Acharis   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3988

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Posted 19 March 2014 - 05:23 PM

I don't know about the marketing of this game and such but I gave it a quick play and... it's ONE OF THE BEST MATCH 3 games I have played so far. You can't notice it at the first glance if you are not playing match 3 but the interface (movement of "diamonds", delay, etc) is incredibly smooth, I can't recall another game such polished in terms of it (they must have spend many, many hours researching and playtesting it). Also the amount of "chains" is nice (no prolonged wait when tons and tons of chains are done giving you "fake satisfaction"). It's also rather original (and note we are talking about match 3 genre, being original here is almost impossibe biggrin.png).

I'm just a bit sad I don't like the graphics and the sweet theme (otherwise I would bookmark and play it more for sure).

 

Of course it does not mean that marketing or whatever else was not the key. But I'm sure they wouldn't have such hit if they didn't make the core things excellent first.

 

 

A note to "clone of Bejeweled". Come on, how long can you play the same diamonds over and over again biggrin.png Any genre needs a healthy amount of clones and successors.

 

Disclaimer: I wrote this from just one play of the game, I can't tell about long term quality.


Edited by Acharis, 19 March 2014 - 05:32 PM.

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#16 Olof Hedman   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 2949

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Posted 20 March 2014 - 02:42 AM


Of course it does not mean that marketing or whatever else was not the key. But I'm sure they wouldn't have such hit if they didn't make the core things excellent first.

 

QFT.

You can dislike the theme, you can hate the businessmodel, you can think match3 is a boring genre, but truth is its a rather well made game, specially for its genre and target group.

It's not THAT strange it had success. It's not like its Flappy Bird...

Then of course they were a bit "lucky" to get it above the threshold of massive success.

 


"clone of Bejeweled"

 

Like Bejeweled was the first match3 game ever... :)



#17 Unduli   Members   -  Reputation: 1059

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Posted 20 March 2014 - 03:43 AM

I think main reason for these type games to thrive is them targeting base of "gamer Maslow's pyramid" . While "we" work on games game-literate people play, these games target far below average Joe.



#18 Aurongroove   Members   -  Reputation: 108

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Posted 20 March 2014 - 09:35 AM

I spent a short time while on a business Internship looking at the success of Candy crush (and some other social games).

IMO it;s the finer points of the game itself which help make it such a success, or in other words why it is a sucess and some of the other King games are not sucesses.  

 

There is just enough random good luck to give a player the impression that on any good day, all the levels are possible to complete, this is also why it earns so much money in virtual goods. I'm sure some people think "oh I've had bad luck this time, maybe I'll buy a power up" 

 

The graphics have a lot to do with it to and this is where King games have messes up with other titles; Candy crush is actually very minimal: very strong individual shapes and colours means you can use peripheral vision to see the entire grid (unlike match three's with busier graphics) thus the game rewards the same sort of skills people use when solving words erches. In other king games the "units" are either smiling animals or vegtables or something of that description, not vibrant but basic block colours and shapes. 

 

In a more psychological and genetic sense colour differentiation and better panoramic vision is a typically feminine trait (masculine traits are better 3D and spacial awareness, might hint at why guys tend to prefer 3d graphics and sportrs/action games) 

 

Since more women then men play social games, and Candy crush rewards skills which are typically strong in woman, it;s a game which appeals to the larger section of social Gamers. 

 

 

I'm currently working with a friend to make some social games which I believe, have a good shot at being successful, it's slow going but a dream's a dream. 



#19 ddn3   Members   -  Reputation: 1324

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Posted 20 March 2014 - 02:56 PM

Games like Candy Crush, Clash of Clans, etc.. the hyper-success have a combination of excellent design / gfx and also well executed marketing plan to maximize their chances of success. These games usually are not the first game the company has done and through trial and error they learned how to maximize their success with a coordinated marketing strategy. The chances of a breakout success without such strategy imo is very low now. 






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