Candy Crush Saga: Scarface in a Tutu

Candy Crush Saga is like a whole pantomime of characters all in one app.  These are the many faces of this fascinating beast.

Personality 1:  The Disney Princess

The first ten minutes of Candy Crush are like dropping acid at Toys R Us.  Rainbows of joy , bubblegum pink hearts and the beaming circus master.  You are congratulated constantly for tracing an arrow, and the pings and pops just melt into your ears.

Deep down you know it was all created by some devilish AB-testing Terminator, which divined its way to the pitch and tone and shade of fuchsia that delivers maximum ROI.  Candy Crush is a princess at Disneyland, at a kiosk selling blue meth.  Behind her inch-thick make up and muscle-cramping smile is a woman with targets to hit.

Personality 2:  The Super Athlete

To understand why Candy Crush is so devastatingly effective at separating us from our money, we need to cast our mind back to the late 2000s when King.com was taking over Facebook gaming (prising users from Zynga, which took a particularly sharp scalpel).  It’s hard to make money on Facebook because you have to convince players to enter their credit card details.  Apple has done that bit of hard work for them, so successful Facebook developers moving to iOS are like Kenyan runners coming to Boston.  They laugh with their spare lungfuls of oxygen as they overtake the wheezing locals.

Personality 3:  Nicky Santoro

Once you’ve been seduced by the Disney princess, you’ll find yourself trapped in a sickening labyrinth of monetisation loops.  Candy Crush taught other app developers that casual gamers (read home makers) will spend, you just have to act like Nicky Santoro to get it out of them.

‘Can I try again?’.  PAY ME
‘I don’t want to wait 15 minutes’.  PAY ME
‘I don’t want to spam my friends’. PAY ME

Personality 4:  The LAPD

In the end I played Candy Crush Saga because it was the only refuge from a torrential thunderstorm of ads for Candy Crush Saga.  With the millions being spent daily on user acquisition, every other game developer submits and offers up their players as humble sacrifice to the gods.

And with all cultural tidal waves, like Facebook, Star Wars and smartphones, there comes a realisation that ‘I still haven’t…!’ doesn’t make you seem quirky – just old.

Eventually I was surrounded, and I came out with my hands up. Then I moved through the stages of “Well, I play but I never spend!” (denial), to a beaten addict who ‘Had to stop’.

Haven’t played it yet? This one cannot be outrun, I’m afraid. It’s like the Noro virus effortlessly working its way round a primary school.  My advice is just hole up for the weekend, stock up on tins of tomato soup and get to the other side.

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