Candy Crush Saga
|Candy Crush Saga|
April 12, 2012
November 14, 2012
December 14, 2012
December 11, 2014
September 6, 2012
July 29, 2015
Candy Crush Saga is a free-to-play mobile match-three puzzle video game released by King on April 12, 2012, for Facebook; other versions for iOS, Android, Windows Phone, and Windows 10 followed. It is a variation on their browser game Candy Crush.
In the game, players complete levels by swapping colored pieces of candy on a game board to make a match of three or more of the same color, eliminating those candies from the board and replaced with new ones, which could potentially create further matches. Matches of four or more candies create unique candies that act as power-ups with larger board-clearing abilities. Boards have various goals that must be completed within a fixed number of moves or limited amount of time, such as a certain score or collecting a specific number of a type of candy.
Candy Crush Saga is considered one of the first and most successful uses of a freemium model; while the game can be played completely through without spending money, players can buy special actions to help clear more difficult boards, from which King makes its revenues from. Around 2014, over 93 million people were playing Candy Crush Saga, while revenue over a three month period as reported by King was over $493 million.
Gameplay basically consists of switching adjacent candies to form rows of three of the same color, which are then cleared from the board. Different "special candies" can be formed by matching a combination of 4 or 5 in a certain formation, such as a "Striped" candy (which clears either an entire row or column), a "Wrapped" candy (which acts like a bomb; clearing the 8 surrounding candies, falling, and exploding one more time), or a "Color Bomb" (which removes all candies with the same color of the one it is matched with). Special Candies can also be matched together, producing varying effects; for example, matching a color bomb with a striped candy turns all of the candies of its color into striped candies, which are immediately detonated. A striped and a wrapped candy, if mixed, turn into a big striped candy, clearing three rows horizontally and vertically.
Other special candies which appear on the boards for free can be purchased from the in-game store, or won from the Candy Crush Booster Wheel. These include Jelly Fish in jelly clearing boards which clear 3 pieces from the board at random, the Coconut Wheel on ingredient dropping boards which changes three candies in a row into striped candies, and Lucky Candy in recipe boards which when matched change to one of the types of pieces the player needs to clear the objective. The Booster Wheel also offers a chance to win a jackpot of all boosters in one spin.
Other pieces known as Blockers appear on boards to add to the challenge: Icing (also called Meringues) cannot be moved and can only be removed by matching next to it, Liquorice Locks cage off single pieces of candy to prevent them from use, Chocolate pieces will multiply if not cleared, Liquorice Swirls cannot be removed with Special Candies, Candy Bombs will explode and end the level early if they are not cleared, Multilayered Icing requires multiple matches to remove, Chocolate Spawners will produce Chocolate pieces at all times, Marmalade guards Special Candies from use, and Cake Bombs can clear the entire board once cleared. Other pieces also appear on levels such as Chameleon Candies which switch colors every turn, Mystery Candies which randomly turn into a Special Candy or a Blocker, and Extra Time Candies on time limit levels.
The player can also purchase various Boosters to attempt to win levels more easily or extend play after a lost level; Lollipop Hammer clears a single piece from the board, Extra Moves can be purchased if running out of moves at the end of a game, Free Switch allows players to switch two pieces that do not possibly match, Sweet Teeth to clear out Blockers and Jelly, Bomb Coolers to add onto Candy Bomb timers if the timer runs out, and the Bubblegum Troll to stop Chocolate Spawners from spawning chocolate from its sides. The Dreamworld levels have their own special boosters: the Restore Balance booster to reset the Moon Scale for 5 turns and the Moon Struck booster to automatically activate Moon Struck.
In app purchases
The game is primarily monetized through in-app purchases (through either a credit card, iTunes credits or Google Play credits); players begin with five "lives", lost whenever a level is failed. This applies to all of King's games. When they are exhausted, users can either send requests to their Facebook friends for more lives, wait for them to replenish themselves (a life is restored every half-hour), or purchase them. At certain points, primarily at the start of new "episodes", users must also either purchase, or receive a request from at least three friends before they may access the next set of levels. Boosters, to make the levels easier, can be bought using in-app purchases.
While the game includes freemium content, 97.7% of those playing the game do so for free, while only 2.3% pay.
Once all levels in an episode are completed, the next episode (between episodes 3 and 64) is locked and the player must either get three friends on Facebook to send them "tickets" to unlock the next episode, it can be unlocked directly through the in-game store, or occasionally the game will allow the player to move on for free if the player has not been able to unlock the next area. If the game is not linked to the player's Facebook account, a new level can be unlocked by playing a Mystery Quest, a random previous level with a higher point threshold for winning. Three Mystery Quests must be completed before the next episode is unlocked, and a player can only complete one Mystery Quest in a single 24-hour period. Recently the option to unlock episodes by playing mystery quests is only available after several days have passed and no help is received through friend requests on Facebook. Other than waiting the time period until mystery quests are available, using in app purchase is the only way to unlock episodes.
Throughout the game, the player solves puzzles so Tiffi (short for Toffette) can solve problems plaguing the residents of the Candy Kingdom. These include tutorial guide Mr. Toffee, whose voice was changed from an over-the-top French accent in the original version of the game into a more modest deep male voice, the Easter Bunny, the shop owner Mr. Yeti, Odus the owl from Dreamworld levels, the villainous Bubblegum Troll, Tiffi's nemesis, Ghirahim, and many others.
In the Candy Crush Jelly Saga, the two main characters that you play against are the Jelly Queen and Cupcake Carl.
Prior to the release of Candy Crush Saga, most of King's games were browser games offered through their website or partner portals such as Yahoo!. Several of their games featured tournament-style gameplay, where players could spend money to enter competitive tourneys for in-game boosts, which served as one of the main form of revenue for the company in addition to in-game item sale microtransactions and advertisements. Around 2009, Facebook began to pull in developers, in particular Zynga, to offer social network games that could be built on its fundamental services; for King, this resulting in a large drop in players that they saw from their game portals within a year. At this point, King started to determine how it could enter the Facebook and the associated mobile game markets, breaking up its web development department to work on Facebook and mobile games in 2010, including bringing several of their existing browser games to those platforms. Most of these existing games were introduced as beta versions to Facebook users, and the company used player counts and feedback to determine which of these titles had the most prospect for moving forward, allowing them to focus more intensive development on those titles while dropping the rest, in the style of a rapid prototyping approach. The Facebook platform allowed them to explore expansion of their existing tournament-style games and the ability to include microtransactions within the game.
In April 2011, King released its first cross-platform (Facebook and mobile) game, Miner Speed, which had a simple match-3 concept that borrowed concepts from Bejeweled that helped the company figure out the transition between Facebook and mobile games for this new direction. King's first major success in this area followed with Bubble Witch Saga, released in October 2011; by January 2012 it has attracted over 10 million players and was one of fastest rising Facebook games at that time. Bubble Witch Saga introduced the "saga" approach in contrast to typical tile-matching games, where instead of having the game continue through a fixed amount of time or until the player reached an unplayable state, the game was divided into discrete levels that required the player to complete certain goals within a fixed set of moves, and where the next level could only be reached after completing the previous level. These saga elements allowed for the basics of social gameplay, but did not require the time investment that then-popular titles like Zynga's Farmville required; players could play just for a few minutes each day through the saga model. The success of Bubble Witch Saga establishing King as a viable developer in this arena, becoming the second-largest developer by daily player count on the Facebook platform by April 2012, trailing only Zynga.
Candy Crush Saga was selected as King's next Facebook game based on the popularity of the portal version of Candy Crush, first released in 2011 and which was one of the five most popular games by 2012. The basic ideas from Miner Speed were used to craft the foundation of Candy Crush Saga, adding the "saga" elements from Bubble Witch Saga. Initial ideas for Candy Crush Saga were proposed by King's chief creative officer, Sebastian Knutsson, around 2011. The game was first released for Facebook in April 2012, at the time featuring only 65 levels. The game quickly gained popularity, gaining more than 4 million players within a few weeks of release.
King later released mobile versions for iOS and Android that same year, adding a feature that allowed mobile users to synchronize their progress with the Facebook version. Knutsson stated that at that time, with Candy Crush Saga as popular as it was on Facebook, they knew that they "had to get it right" in the transition process. King had previously discussed the nature of games that kept their state between a PC and mobile version with Fabrication Games, believing this was a necessary trend in the future of gaming, Both recognized several of the difficulties that would have to be addressed to provide both the progress synchronization and gameplay interface between mouse-driven PC computers and touch-driven mobile devices. King found that one issue with transiting Bubble Witch Saga to mobile was that the gameplay elements were too small for mobile devices, and aimed to correct that for Candy Crush Saga on mobile. The mobile release delay for Candy Crush Saga was in part due to adding the ability to play the mobile version in an offline mode that would still synchronize once the player returned online.
The mobile version helped to boost popularity of the game, attributed to the nature of the game being able to be played in a pick-up-and-go manner ideally suited for mobile devices. Tommy Palm, one of the four developers for Candy Crush Saga, stated that the first weekend numbers after the game's mobile release were over ten times greater than the estimates they expected. By January 2013, Candy Crush Saga overtook Zynga's Farmville 2 as the top-played game on the Facebook platform.
Candy Crush Saga was expanded over the years by adding new episodes, each containing a number of new levels. This enabled King to also introduce new gameplay features alongside other game improvements. New features were first tested on King's own portal to see how players there responded and allowing them to tweak these as needed, then pushed these into the episodes on the Facebook/mobile version. By September 2016, King released its 2000th level for the game to celebrate the milestone of over 1 trillion Candy Crush Saga games having been played.
According to review aggregator website Metacritic, the game received an average review score of 79/100, indicating generally positive reviews. Ellie Gibson of Eurogamer referred to Candy Crush Saga as 2013's "Game of the Year".
Candy Crush Saga had over ten million downloads in December 2012. By 2013, Candy Crush Saga had been downloaded more than 500 million times across Facebook, iOS, and Android devices and considered the most downloaded app from the Apple App Store, and had at least 6.7 million active users on a daily basis; the game had a daily revenue of $633,000 from the United States section of the iOS App Store alone. By 2014, the game had over 245 million active player each month but has since dropped off, with that count falling to around 166 million by 2016.
Though initially released with advertising to help with revenue, King removed the advertising in 2013, and solely has earned money from the game in the form of in-app purchases. Only a small percentage of the player base has purchased in-game items, up to around 4%, but this has led to millions of dollars in monthly revenue for King. In 2014, Candy Crush Saga players spent over $1.33 billion on in-app purchases which was a decline from the previous year, since in the second half of 2013 players spent over $1.04 billion. By 2015, the monthly revenue was estimated at $120 million, but with declining players purchasing in-game items, down to 2% by 2016, that revenue has dropped to just over $53 million per month.
Candy Crush received particular mention in Hong Kong media, with reports that one in seven Hong Kong citizens plays the game. The game is also featured in Psy's music video "Gentleman". In December 2013, King entered the Japanese market with a series of television commercials in Japan, and by December 4 it had become the 23rd most downloaded game in Japan on Android devices and number 1 most downloaded from the App Store.
The mobile game known as CandySwipe created in 2010, two years prior to the release of Candy Crush Saga, had many similarities that independent app developer Albert Ransom and maker of CandySwipe picked up on as Candy Crush Saga became more successful. It led Ransom to believe King intentionally copied elements from his own game; he stated: "the app icon, candy pieces, and even the rewarding, "Sweet!" are nearly identical".
The issues arose when Ransom's registered trademark over the name was under fire by King during their efforts to trademark the word "candy". Eventually though, King decided not to pursue the trademark in the United States due to the controversy.
Candy Crush Saga also received mixed reactions when it was announced that King had struck a deal with Microsoft to automatically install the game on devices that have been upgraded to Windows 10 Home.
In May 2014, a sequel titled Candy Crush Soda Saga was soft launched by King, with a similar design but new gameplay dynamics, such as a soda bottle piece that can shift gravity. As of October 2016, there are over 1100 "Candy Crush Soda Saga" levels.
On October 20, 2014, the Facebook version of Candy Crush Soda Saga was released worldwide and the mobile app was released in November on the Android and iOS platforms. The app was subsequently made available for Windows 10 and Windows Phone in October 2015.
In September 2015, another sequel entitled Candy Crush Jelly Saga was soft-launched in various countries for the Android platform. Candy Crush Jelly Saga was released worldwide in January 2016. Initially it was not made available in Facebook unlike in previous titles, but is now available as a game app as of May 2016. The Facebook version appears to no longer require Adobe Flash to play.
In October 2016, CBS announced that it will bring a live-action Candy Crush game show in partnership with King. Though no scheduled broadcast date has been set, it is expected to feature hour-long competition between two teams using interactive games that are based on Candy Crush. The show is expected to be produced by Lionsgate with executive producer Matt Kunitz, and with collaboration by Sebastian Knutsson, the creative developer of the first Candy Crush game.
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