‘Candy Crush Saga’ plagues millions who play

By Wilson Criscione, News Writer


It started with a Facebook notification. I was being asked, by the Candy Crush Saga logo, to send my friend a life.

I didn’t, of course. But months later, I was in the same position. I asked my friends for Candy Crush favors, hoping they would understand how dire the situation was.

For a good chunk of time, Candy Crush Saga dominated my life.

But I’m certainly not the only one. Candy Crush is the number one downloaded game on Facebook, according to AppData. In November of 2013, the app developer, King, announced that on the game’s one-year anniversary, over half a billion people had downloaded it.

That’s more than the entire U.S. population.

King makes close to $800,000 per day from the game, with 7.7 million daily active users, per Think Gaming.

Chances are, every college student knows someone who is a Candy Crush addict.

I get it. It’s a fun game, and it’s free to download. The game’s design is similar to other games, like Bejeweled. Each level contains a board with a variety of candies, and the goal is to move a candy horizontally or vertically to match with candies of the same color. If more than three colors are matched, then new candies are created which will help complete your goal for that level.

There are currently 485 levels for the phone app, and even more on Facebook. The first 30 levels are relatively easy, and they give you the foundation of confidence needed to power you through some of the harder boards as you go on.

With each one, there are new obstacles to face. There may be chocolate to dissolve, blocks to break or jelly to clear, all conquerable through the matching of candies in a designated amount of moves or in a limited amount of time.

You start with five lives, and if you can’t beat the level with those lives, you either have to buy one, ask your friends on Facebook or wait half an hour for each new life.

This is where King makes its money. People love playing the game so much, they would rather pay a dollar for a life than wait a half hour for a new one.

One student, Ashley Kavanaugh, has beat the final level in the game multiple times, as new updates often add more levels. She said she has spent at least $100 dollars for new lives or to continue onto new episodes.

Each time she has beat the last level, she feels a mixture of accomplishment and relief. It means she doesn’t have to play anymore. But when they add more levels, she feels obligated to finish them even though it may interfere with both work and school. When they released new levels during finals week, it put her in an awkward position.

This is a feeling I understand completely, and it’s the reason I had to stop.

It’s hard to put my finger on why the game is so addicting. There is very little skill involved. You won’t ever hear anyone say they are “good” at Candy Crush. Some people simply play more than others. This may be why the game is so universally appealing. Anyone can be just as good as anyone else, as long as they put in the work.

I spent almost every day last summer in my apartment, sweating without air conditioning, wasting hours crushing candy with the TV in the background, only stopping occasionally to eat.

I told myself that the game was exactly like life. Each level is it’s own battle with it’s own obstacles. I looked back to the good old days, the first thirty levels, with a sense of wonder. If I only knew how easy I had it then, I would have cherished it more. The obstacles don’t necessarily get harder, they just get different, and more prevalent. I eventually got used to them, carrying them with me throughout the saga as I faced new challenges.

If I got frustrated and couldn’t beat a level, I blamed the higher power, King, for making it too difficult. But when I finally did beat it, a wave of satisfaction would hit, and I thanked King for the challenge before moving on to the next one. I knew each time I beat a level that it was completely random, that I had done the same exact thing as before. One level may take two minutes to beat, another may take an entire month.

I needed my friends to give me a life.

It was about the time I started looking at Candy Crush Saga as an unending representation of the human experience that I knew I had to quit.

I have been Candy Crush free for four months after advancing about 250 levels, and I don’t think I’m going back again. Things are looking up.

This is not to say that everyone who plays the game will have the same experience. I know plenty of people who can manage to play casually. And not everyone has to spend money. According to King, the majority of players who finish the last level do so without ever spending money.

Just beware. Don’t let King take your money, and don’t let Candy Crush into your psyche like I did. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go play Flappy Bird.