The most popular app of 2013: Candy Crush Saga

Candy Crush Saga

Despite being completely free to download from the app store, Candy Crush Saga rakes in an incredible $1,000,000 a day! How is this possible and what is all the fuss about?

The most popular iPhone and iPad App of 2013

Candy Crush Saga was launched on Facebook in April 2013 by a social-gaming company called King who, as a result of the game’s huge success, now has offices worldwide from Mumbai to San Francisco and the Philippines. In November 2012 the game was released for Android after which it was downloaded over 10 billion times in one month! Since then it has soared in popularity, beating the likes of Spotify and Trip Advisor in app store downloads.
A colorful grid of shiny candy is the foundation of this brightly coloured “match 3” game. The aim of the game is nothing particularly new or original so I was keen to find out what has caused it to become a global phenomenon. A series of psychological techniques were immediately obvious..

Ooh look, a shiny object!

On face value, it is clear that some basic design tactics have been used. An immensely bright and colorful array of beautiful sweets are coated with a shiny sparkle and complimented with a cheerful, repetitive and surprisingly catchy soundtrack. One is immersed in to a dreamy, interactive candy world that appeals, distracts and delights. It’s quite simple, the game appeals to the inner child within us. Sweets have always been a treat. Shiny, glossy sweets make us feel positive and rewarded. Colorful, interesting shapes and candy worlds capture our minds. We would surely be less inclined to match rows of stationary.

We always want what we cannot have

I was startled to be told by the game that I’d lost all of my lives and was therefore banned from playing Candy Crush Saga for 34 minutes.

Players are banned from the game for certain amounts of time depending on lives and levels completed, preventing them from accessing the next level until this time is up.

OR one can buy their way back in…

This simple feature of the game has three key functions:
1. To bring money in for this otherwise free app

2. To keep players engaged because we always want what we cannot have

3. To cause players to take a compulsory break from an addictive, rather time consuming game

Candy Crush also makes money by offering players the opportunity to buy boosters to get them through a level they would otherwise fail and have to start again.

Encouragement and Reassurance

“Sweeeeeeet”, cries a voice when tasks are completed correctly. Colorful stars are awarded, new candy can be unlocked and hints are given when a player is inactive for a few seconds, helping them on their way. Whether 5 or 55, we all seek and are greatly encouraged by positive feedback and praise. In the Candy Crush world there’s lots of positive encouragement which makes us feel good, and keeps us coming back for more.

Kings and Queens of Multi-Tasking

Catching trains, planes, boats, sitting in meetings, working out, socializing, surely we can’t be expected to concentrate on one thing at a time? Fear not, only one hand is required to play which means we’re able to cook, clean, eat, travel, and crush candy, all at the same time.

Intensely Interactive

One is constantly encouraged to share high scores, levels and achievements with Facebook friends as well as invite them in to the game. A candy world map even displays where you are in comparison to your friends making it hugely interactive via social media.
When fans took to the internet to complain that Level 65 was too difficult, King went in to the level and altered it to make it easier. This illustrated to players that the designers are listening to their customers and they're encouraged to keep playing.

Another Level

A more concentrated look in to the game’s design and color choices reveals a different psychological game.

The candy is one of six colours: a very vibrant orange, red, purple, blue, green or yellow. These colours combined appeal to the brain which causes it to become hypnotized by the shiny effects on the pieces of candy. This is because these particular colours are a direct contrast of high and low sensory arousal. Whilst the high arousal shades (orange, red and purple) represent the heat of sun and fire, the low arousal colours (blue, green and yellow) are reflective of the coolness of leaves, the sky and the ocean.

Staring at these contrasting colors enhances the players’ overall sensory experience because the brain is naturally captivated by such bright colors next to each other

A friend of mine has reached level 485, the highest level available on the current update of the app.

He told me that “it was just a bit of fun at first, and then the more I played, the more I wanted to catch up with one of my friends who was the furthest through the levels. Eventually I overtook him and it became an obsession to stay in front and get as far as I could. I hate the game and get very frustrated with it sometimes, but for some reason I can’t stop playing!”

A scientific study carried out by Mili Milosauljevic and a group of neuroscientists examines the control that colors have over the human brain. Eye-tracking studies were carried out on customers making choices in supermarkets between similar snack food products which differentiate in brightness of packaging. Indeed, we have evolved to recognize and respond to brighter colors which is why consumers often chose the more exciting looking chocolate bar.

It's arguable that these six colours have been deliberately chosen by King to stimulate the brain, whilst balancing each other out, created an appealing and harmonious picture.

Do you think this is the secret behind the game’s enormous success? Let us know what you think over on Google+!