‘Candy Crush’ Science

candy crush

It seems candy is worth a lot of money to software giant King, the makers of the über-popular game Candy Crush.  Since last year, King Digital Entertainment made 78 percent of its $2 billion in customer expenditure on the game, an incredible number that is the driving force of its valuation of $7.6 billion.  What is perhaps most interesting about this most popular game is the actual science that goes into the game.

Developers have a particular science that they invest into games like Candy Crush.  Surprisingly, neuroscience is the backbone of the game, as it triggers certain emotions and helps developers realize what hooks to put in games like Candy Crush and when.  The game seems to use a lot of emotional triggers to help players know when to use particular tools, like the candy hammer or color bomb.  According to neuroscience, emotions help people to focus their attention and remember certain details.

While games like Candy Crush certainly do not trigger the same emotional responses as say, the birth of a child or other notable life events, even frustration is an emotional response.  When humans get frustrated, they tend to remember tricks and tools to not get frustrated the next time they are faced with a similar situation.  According to game designer Nicole Lazzaro of XEODesign, who works as the company’s interaction researcher, curiosity, desire and amusement must also be struck in a casual game such as Candy Crush.

The science of Candy Crush also means that the competitive drive must also get struck.  This has meant that there are many who work on the game to the point of ignoring their loved ones; 32 percent of those who admit to playing the game say they have ignored family or friends to play the game.  It has become incredibly addictive, but what has happened is that King has ultimately found an ideal formula that continues to draw people in.

The game makes people wait, wanting for more.  It also evolves regularly; with 544 levels currently, there are new levels that develop about every two weeks, and while there are only a few people who have reached level 400, people are continuing to be hungry for more.

In addition, there are unpredictable rewards.  There is now a regular daily reward, where people can spin for a tool that can keep them going on the game.  People are always delighted when they are given a reward, particularly one where they do not expect it.

Another cool factor that hooks many is that Candy Crush can be played with one hand.  It is likely one of the most popular games on the mobile platform, whether it is on Android or Apple.  Whether players are stuck in a business meeting that they are only half-listening to or trapped in a congested subway on the way to an appointment, players can smoothly flick through multiple combinations of the candies, giving them an instant sense of satisfaction.  Any time players are hamstrung by one of the game’s obstacles, there is a sense of frustration, triggering the competitive drive to keep pushing forward.  While Candy Crush is a seriously addictive game on Facebook, the science behind the game continues to intrigue players for levels to come.

By Christina St-Jean




Financial Times

One Response to "‘Candy Crush’ Science"

  1. Joowonna Dance   March 23, 2014 at 7:26 pm

    Aaaand, don’t forget, they are one sue-happy company that is currently under investigation for their predatory actions towards other small time game developers. http://www.joystiq.com/2014/02/18/igda-makes-opposition-statement-to-kings-candy-trademarks/
    Yeah, who trademarks “candy” and “saga”? It’s like trademarking “banana” and “times” pttt..


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