“Candy Crush Saga” may seem like nothing but gumdrops and lollipops (literally), but don’t be fooled, this game harbors darker intentions. For those of you who don’t know, Candy Crush is a wildly popular free game that is available on mobile devices. It’s a pretty simple game. You match up candy pieces in rows of three or higher. Sometimes the game mixes things up, but color matching is the crux of it. It’s like “Bejeweled” on a sugar rush.
What’s odd is that Candy Crush is free, but it’s one of the highest grossing apps on iTunes. That’s because it’s a dishonest scam. The game’s only goal is to get you addicted so you keep plunking money into it.
When you lose a level, you lose a life. If you run out, you have to wait 24 freaking hours to get another set of lives. Of course, you can speed that process up with a little more money.
There are also certain items that make the game easier, like a giant lollipop or an army of Swedish Fish. However, there is a catch. The game lays it out like this: “Hey buddy, use that pretty little item there. Didn’t that feel good? Look how easy that just made everything! Oh, you want to use it again? That’ll cost you.” It will give you a taste of something to make your candy experience a little sweeter so you’ll be forever tempted to buy it.
Every facet of this game is designed to make in-game purchases more attractive. The longer you go in the game, the harder it gets. And at a certain point, you feel the pressure to buy power-ups in order to proceed at a normal pace. It also makes the wait between lives so long that it encourages you to spend money in order to keep playing. Like a junkie needing his next hit. I’m really only scratching the surface here with the terribly gimmicky features.
And if you can’t spend any more money, just do the game’s dirty work and share it with your friends on Facebook for some free lives. Get your friends addicted and live in hollow happiness with all your digital tweaker friends.
Speaking of junkies and tweakers, the gameplay is like the equivalent of a drug. The way in which it constantly assaults your brain with explosions and colors, without doing much, makes you think you’re really accomplishing something. The game’s narrator will also coo sweet nothings into your ear with a chocolatey smooth voice that only further illustrates this point. It manipulates the endorphin releasing pleasures with ascending levels, scores and candy explosions in order to make you feel all warm and fuzzy.
The worst part is that the game itself isn’t any good. There is almost no skill involved. You can try to predict patterns and manipulate luck to a certain degree, but there is too much randomness. It tries to distract you from its mediocrity by throwing colors, explosions and candy at your face. It’s like a colorful slot machine, except money only goes in and nothing comes out.
I know that other “free”-to-play games follow the same shameful model, like “Clash of Clans” and “Tiny Towers.” I’m just picking on Candy Crush because it’s one of the more well known perps.
I’m also aware that around 70 percent of individuals who actually beat the game haven’t spent a dime. And to those people I say, “Really?” That still requires a ridiculous amount of patience that this game doesn’t deserve. And that doesn’t dissuade from the fact that its creators still make a whopping $1 to 3.5 million every day. It’s incomprehensible to think how many idiots are actually slamming their Neanderthal foreheads on the “purchase” button to make a dumb game easier.
This awful business model has been ruining the industry and seeping into other good games like “Forza Motorsport,” “Dead Space,” and “Plants Vs. Zombies.” The success of these games encourages publishers and developers to find ways to squeeze every cent out of the consumer’s wallet through micro-transactions, rather than making a great product. This leads to cutting back content and progress within a game and toying with the mechanics so that buying stuff becomes a priority.
And the sad thing is that voices like mine that oppose this corrupt form of gaming get drowned out by all the money it makes.