Candy Crush Saga has tens of millions of daily players and has brought in hundreds of millions in revenue for King, its creator. The first social gaming app to go mainstream and become popular amongst people who had not hitherto been gamers was Farmville, back in 2010, but Candy Crush proved to have much more of an enduring appeal. The trouble with Farmville (and other Zynga apps) was as one’s virtual world got bigger and bigger it required more and more time and attention; that, coupled with the need to spend money and/or pester one’s friends constantly for clicks, eventually caused the majority of players to get annoyed and give up. Candy Crush is not like that; you can be too busy to play for weeks then come back, pick up where you left off and find new levels to play.
It has often been said of both Candy Crush and of online slots that they are addictive, and both have certainly made vast sums of money. Many companies have tried to introduce real money gaming on to Facebook (in the UK where it is allowed) in the hope of tapping the potential of that vast Candy Crush user base – but are they barking up the wrong tree? Real money gaming on Facebook has not been particularly successful so far and indeed one of the first such apps, Bingo and Slots Friendzy by Gamesys, closed its doors in Summer 2014.
Ways in which Candy Crush resembles slots
1) The hypnotic effect of seeing the candies fall or the reels spin.
2) The instant gratification of being able to play again right away. With CC you can keep playing as long as you keep winning, but once you fail 5 times and use up your 5 lives you must wait for more. Can’t wait? Pester your Facebook friends to send you lives or pay to refill on the spot.
3) The effect of the near miss – in slots it makes you think you almost won big. In CC, it may have you reaching for your wallet to buy power-ups in the case of a difficult level that you are sick of the sight of and haven’t come close to beating before. I’ve finished all the available levels and had to wait for the next batch to be released several times now – but I have occasionally used lollipop hammers or extra moves to turn a near miss on a frustrating level into a certain victory. My rule is only to use the power-up when there is a clear way to secure the win with it, and only when the level has been played many times unsuccessfully, but it’s easy to see how people could spend quite a lot of money that way if they were less disciplined about it.
4) You can play anywhere, anytime, on a mobile device even if you only have a few minutes spare.
Ways in which Candy Crush is different from slots
1) Level progression – Candy Crush is all about beating a level and moving on to the next one, and there are hundreds to get through. The closest thing you’ll find to this in a slot is when there are a number of bonus rounds and the later ones can only be unlocked by playing the earlier ones – such as in the Microgaming slots Immortal Romance and Avalon II.
2) Variety – Candy Crush has several different types of level with different objectives to meet to solve the puzzle. If the level you are playing becomes boring you can also return to any earlier level to try and improve your score and beat your friends.
3) Skill – Candy Crush is a puzzle game and although there is a luck element in the starting board arrangement and the way the candies drop it’s what you do with it that counts. Only the very early levels require no skill to solve. Slots on the other hand are all about luck.
4) Payoff – in slots, the big win is the desired outcome. In CC, it’s the thrill of solving a hard puzzle.
5) Money – with slots you pay to play, by their very nature. Candy Crush is a freemium game which means that while you can play without paying anything, the power-ups and extra moves which are available for purchase can make the levels easier to complete.
Some levels in Candy Crush are not just extremely difficult, but INSANELY difficult. This is actually part of the appeal for many as beating a really difficult level WITHOUT spending any money is immensely satisfying. However, when King introduced a level (Dreamworld 276) that was generally considered to be impossible to beat without power-ups there was an outcry even though some power-ups are given away for free in the daily spin and for trying other King games. That level and a number of others were subsequently tweaked to move the difficulty down a notch.
For a great many Candy Crush players, paying to secure completion of a level would feel like cheating and would diminish their enjoyment of the win. If the level is too hard, they won’t pay but will just stop playing. King’s introduction of the daily spin with its free power ups was undoubtedly trying to get non users of power ups to use the free ones, in the hope that they would then be more likely to pay to use them again – as well as to provide an incentive to play every day. Clearly this must have worked to some extent because the daily spin was originally going to be a time limited promotion but shows no sign of finishing any time soon. Prior to the daily spin, King went on record as saying that 70% of the players who had completed the game had never paid anything, and it would be interesting to know what that percentage is now.
Arguably, the similarities are superficial and the differences are fundamental and while the similarities could help to explain why both experiences can be addictive, the motivation of the Candy Crush players with regard to money and objectives is so very different to that of the slots players that it is no surprise that real money gaming on Facebook holds no appeal for vast swathes of the Candy Crush player base.
Where does this leave real money gaming on Facebook? The reasoning goes that since players are paying out significant sums for power ups and extra moves in games like Candy Crush, and for chips in social gaming casinos, why shouldn’t they instead be persuaded to spend that money somewhere where they could have the chance of getting some real money back? The answer is that what matters to the players is the gaming experience and the entertainment, not the money – and they simply aren’t interested in gambling with real money. If someone could come up with a Facebook game that combined the gameplay experience of Candy Crush Saga with the opportunity to win real cash, that might be nearer the mark – but it would probably be much more akin to poker where players compete against each other in a game that is at least partially skill based, than slots. Or how about one that paid out in cryptocurrencies? Learn more about these at Crypto Mining Guide.
What about an app where you could play Candy Crush against other players for cash prizes – that sounds like a winner, doesn’t it? Oh wait….that’s already been done, BEFORE the game was launched on Facebook and on mobile devices! The game actually made its debut on King’s tournament website where there is real money play available and you can still play the original Candy Crush (without the “Saga”) there. The tournament site is now a little known sideline for King, with the vast revenues all coming from Candy Crush Saga and the other cross platform Saga games. It seems that while many of those millions of players are prepared to spend money on the game (and some spend substantial sums) it really is all about the entertainment and playing for money is simply not their idea of entertainment.
Candy Crush lookalike slots
The influence of Candy Crush Saga can be seen in the look and feel of many of the slots released over the last couple of years. Mostly this has just been in the design of the symbols with the slot itself having a traditional reels arrangements, but there are a few slots (the first of these was Betsoft’s Sugar Pop!) which look much more like a game of Candy Crush than like a slot machine. You can see examples of both types in the Sweets and Cakes category.
A final twist to the story
New Jersey gaming regulators now want to bring Candy Crush type games on to land based casino floors in the hope that it will attract the younger demographic that could revitalise the casino industry.