'Candy Crush' and the addictive properties of casual gaming.
Adam Rifkin stashed this in Addiction
Carles calls it:
Candy Crush has a user base of 7.6 million daily players and nearly 160,000 daily installs.
King.com has become the most relevant company in the casual-gaming sector, essentially stealing most of former powerhouse Zynga's market share and profits. You might remember Zynga as the creator of Farmville and the company that purchased the popular app Draw Something for $180 million, only to shut down the entire division that developed it 17 months later. King.com's Candy Crush is the no. 1 Facebook app and the no. 1–grossing game in the iOS App store. It makes an estimated $850,000 per day.
Candy Crush Saga doesn't attempt to create a culture of addiction, where a person becomes unhealthily immersed within the world of the product. It has found the proper place for a casual game in a person's life, creating an elastic level of engagement. Instead of setting aside free time to run a fake farm with fake animals and fake crops, Candy Crushis something that can be played passively, or with only a limited amount of time available to play. The elasticity of Candy Crush as a casual experience appropriates the game into a realm of "habitual" behavior. You can choose to play the game for one minute, or 15 minutes, or two hours (if you are willing to pay to reload your lives). Play it when you are waiting for your food, sitting on the toilet, ignoring your friends or coworkers, or watching television.
Candy Crush has actually existed since 2011, when it was first hosted on the King.com website. Eventually, it launched a Facebook app version to maximize social opportunities, like the ability to give friends lives and extra moves. The socialization of Candy Crushcreates the appropriate level of "community," where you still play as an individual but are indirectly trying to beat your Facebook friends' scores on every level. In 2012, the game launched a mobile version, turning it into a global phenomenon.
King.com's most valuable asset isn't even a massively popular game, but instead the mastery of the social freemium business model. The Candy Crush model prevents players from becoming traditional addicts, because product addiction actually pushes consumers to a point of exhaustion and disenfranchisement. After you lose five lives, you must wait 30 minutes in order to get another life, or request lives from all of your Facebook friends. This forces you to spend time away from the game. Candy Crush Saga has harnessed the amount of time you are required to spend away from the game to create a natural demand. In those minutes and hours that you must wait to regain new lives, a subconscious demand accrues within your casual-gaming soul. You can't wait for those five lives to return and give you another opportunity to advance further in the game.
Think about the expansion of the Angry Birds brand. There are little stuffed animals of the birds available in gas stations, Angry Birds candies at the mall, and an upcoming movie scheduled for release in 2016. While Angry Birds might not have the seismic popularity to keep pace with newer casual gaming apps, it has penetrated a sizable segment of the consciousness, giving it invaluable brand recognition. Casual gaming apps seem like they have become this generation's board game. When most of us were young, we were introduced to a series of board games by our parents, who likely played the same board games. Will we be introducing our children to casual-gaming apps? Not if they are overtly addictive and cause detrimental behavior. Fortunately for King.com, Candy Crush's elastic engagement makes it a casual game that we can all trust.
I'm not sure if I agree with the notion that "elastic engagement" is not addictive. The fact that Candy Crush generates the revenue it does is evidence that it is addictive. You can play the game without spending a cent on it (as I do), but you have to have patience. I do agree that being able to play the game for as short a period as you want, either offline or online, is important for casual gaming from a player point of view. But as far as I can tell, what really sucks in the cash for King.com is the lack of patience on the part of players. Run out of lives? Buy more. Face a difficult level? Buy a consumable virtual gizmo (or more likely a bunch of them) to get you past it. The waiting introduced seems to be a means to generate revenue from the impatient, not "elastic engagement". I do agree that what King.com has done is brilliant means of revenue generation, and it is undoubtedly an innovation many upcoming casual mobile games will introduce. But I can't agree with the article's notion of "natural demand" whatever that is.