Take a look at the top free apps on the App Store and you’ll see Candy Crush Saga riding high. It’s pretty popular, man. Now take a look at the highest grossing apps, and right at the top is – you guessed it – Candy Crush Saga.
See, Candy Crush Saga is nothing short of a master-class in how to milk money from the smartphone gaming masses. But that's not to say it's bad.
On paper, Candy Crush Saga is nothing special, a same-old brightly coloured match-three game with power-ups wiping out entire columns and rows and colours and the like. Further combining those power-ups, you can remove seriously large areas of candy in one go. That much is entirely familiar.
Candy Crush Saga’s genius (evil genius, that is) is in its level structure, offering a sense of progression instead of plain old high scores; there’s arguably a ‘point’; something to aim for; “What level are you on?”
That’s what keeps players coming back, I suspect: the notion that there’s something beyond a particularly troublesome level. ‘Heck, if my girlfriend can do it, so can I!’ Candy Crush Saga is relentlessly moreish.
In order to progress, Candy Crush Saga tasks you – more often than not – with destroying the jelly that encases various pieces of candy. A couple of matches encompassing said jelly usually does the trick.
There are variations on the task-based theme, too, with some Candy Crush Saga levels asking you to reach a particular score, or guide ingredients to the bottom of the playing area.
In any case, you’ll all-too-often find that you juuuust run out of moves before accomplishing the task at hand. Gah!
But fear not; Candy Crush Saga’s developer King.com Limited will give you five extra moves - five crucial extra moves – in order to reach your goal. All it asks for in return is 69p. Why I oughta…
If you’d rather keep your wallet in your pocket, you can simply retry, with the caveat that you have just five lives to play with; fives lives that regenerate at the painfully slow rate of one every thirty minutes.
Of course, if you’d rather not wait, you can top up your lives by paying – again – 69p.
Yes, everything in Candy Crush Saga, as far as “freemium” (free app with heavy reliance on in-game content) goes, is balanced to perfection. And I mean that in both a positive and negative way. I think.
Candy Crush Saga is really quite difficult, and it’s incredibly tempting to fork out 69p for five extra moves or lives when you can see the light at the end of the tunnel.
But as with all fair and reasonable freemium games, Candy Crush Saga is really a test of patience. Ultimately, you don’t need to buy those extra moves to finish the level; you don’t need to pay 69p to replenish your lives. Just chill and it’ll happen.
It is frustrating that there isn’t a paid version available for, say, I dunno, £1.99? But it’s a sign of the times, I guess. There’s more money to be made this way, and that’s just how it is. Heck, Candy Crush Saga isn’t the first freemium game, and it won’t be the last. And if you don’t like it, don’t play it.
Also, the frustration is arguably a sign of just how good Candy Crush Saga is. We’ve seen scores of games in the match-three genre, but somehow Candy Crush Saga has managed to lure in millions – literally tens of millions – of players. It must be doing something right.
- Brutally moreish (I hate you, Candy Crush Saga)
- Over 300 levels
- Sweet power-ups
- The freemium stuff
- Not much in the way of skill; pretty random
- Seriously addictive
Summary: Plenty has been said about Candy Crush Saga’s freemium element (there’s even a disclaimer on the App Store description), but behind it all is a rather fantastic match-three game.
Developer: King.com Limited
Requirements: Compatible with iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, iPod touch (3rd generation), iPod touch (4th generation), iPod touch (5th generation) and iPad. Requires iOS 4.3 or later. This app is optimized for iPhone 5.