Note: This is a new series that I’m going to attempt to push out weekly. (Wishful thinking, I know.) Cell phone gaming is a monster. A micro-transaction fueled monster. I cannot deny the allure of the brand of extremely portable gaming that a cell phone can offer — indeed, I like lots of cell phones games. In my quest to understand the “social gaming” market, however, I will review one of the top games on the Android (free) market every week. Stay tuned!
Candy Crush Saga
The Search For Riesen (Get it?!)
Candy Crush has been number one on the Android game market for several weeks now. I see Facebook posts about it. I see rage memes that have been created about it. All I knew before going in was that it involved candy and Facebook. So, I downloaded and installed to be met with the screen below.
Facebook integration! Joy! Look, I use Facebook daily. Millions upon millions of individuals do. Many of those people also play games through Facebook — we’ve all seen invites to Farmville/whatever to help water crops or collect taxes. These social games introduce the so-called “socially linked” elements in order to create a larger user base that, in theory, will increase ad revenue and microtransactional (I am making that a word) revenue from said games. Candy Crush Saga, therefore, integrates Facebook into its game in order to entice the friends of players to join in on the sugary fun.
Friends connected through Facebook can, most importantly, provide boosters to the player that make difficult levels easier to accomplish through the use of power-ups. If the player chooses to not connect to Facebook, the same boosters may be bought with ridiculously inflated cash prices. ($1.99 for a pack of three boosters.) It’s an obvious grab for cash that appears to be incredibly successful: not only is Candy Crush Saga the number one downloaded game on the Android market, it is also the highest grossing (as of 4.17.13).
So! Gameplay. Candy Crush Saga is Bejeweled with a few twists. There are stages presented to the player through a candyland-esque gameboard that have no real bearing on the game itself — the player is simply presented with one stage after another, a la Bejeweled.
Match the colors of candy to reach a predetermined score before you run out of “moves.” If you create a combination of four or more, a special piece of that color will appear that has a particular effect. Some of the stages require specific goals to be met for completion through the use of so-called “jelly” that add a locational challenge specific boards.
That’s it, really. It’s Bejeweled with a new theme. Is that what you want to play? If it is — Candy Crush is the game for you, that is, if you don’t mind the constantly nagging Facebook integration with a helping of frequently pushed microtransactions.
Verdict: Personally, I have no interest to play this game. I tried it for the sake of fun and for the sake of the review, but I found myself wondering why I would play this when it is nothing more than a rehash of a decades-old concept.
On top of the stale nature of the product is the deeply-ingrained system designed to take money from the user in order to move from level to level. As any game like this is naturally tuned around the idea of “random,” certain levels can become very difficult to accomplish without a fair bit of repetition. See those three buttons at the top of the screenshot toward the right? Those are all images of the powerups that, through a press of a button, can be bought and utilized immediately to get past a frustrating level.
While it is a shrewd business model, it smacks of greed. I understand that the microtransactional model is the new status quo for “social” gaming, but that does not mean that I accept it in all iterations. There is, to put it simply, no need for boosts in a game such as this unless you wish to beat all of the stages as quickly as is possible. If this casual game is played casually, it will be beaten in time. Eventually the candy will crush itself — your wallet need not become involved.
Take a pass on this one.