Zynga Interactive. Chances are you’ve heard that company name before, and you wouldn’t be alone if you’ve tried Candy Crush because everyone’s tried it. Even my grandmother has tried it. The number of downloads and installs is so high as the game appeals to a vast amount of people because it rewards you. It doesn’t reward you with money, but it incentivizes gameplay enough to keep you coming back time and time again.
Most people are not die-hard gamers like yours truly; they play games when they are bored, want to waste time or they just want to zone out for a little while. Because my friends played it at the time and some still do, I tried it as well because, well, what if I found myself liking it? I did, to an extent, because of four things:
The first being the inherent challenge in being better than your friends. I’d see tons of my friends posting their progress on Facebook and other types of social media, saying that they had spent several hours trying to pass that level and I thought to myself, “if they can do it, so can I. I can probably do it faster”. And I can guarantee you that integration with social media didn’t hurt Candy Crush’s popularity whatsoever. Everyone wants to have bragging rights, and Candy Crush exploited that mercilessly.
Second of all, say what you want about Candy Crush but its formula of making it simple and entertaining keeps players coming back and spending countless hours trying to solve the puzzles within each level. This formula proves that creating a game with a basic concept – think of Tetris with colored gems – and adding challenges such as completing the level in a specific amount of time, requiring certain amount of points or even combining both challenges, creates an atmosphere of competition that can be highly addictive. I didn’t get to that point myself, but considering I have friends who play it still proves that while the enjoyment factor fades for some, it certainly doesn’t fade for everyone.
Point the third, you get small daily rewards. Each one recharges in intervals of minutes or hours, some in 24 hours so that if you’re stuck on a level because you have no lives left, you can ask your friends on social media to help you out or you can wait for x amount of time for your lives to recharge.
Fourth, a sizeable collection of microtransactions. Zynga said back in 2014 that combining free-to-play games with a microtransaction model is the future of gaming. They are probably not wrong considering the swing in mobile game development now sees several top developers release free games on platforms and then allowing you to buy extra lives or timer cool-downs.
All in all, Zynga developed a simple game in Candy Crush that performed and still performs brilliantly. It succeeded in marketing microtransactions which has benefited Zynga greatly and people still play it on the daily. This is not by chance or luck; it’s a calculation that if you provide something easy and simple and you keep it entertaining and offer people a chance to get a leg up on the competition, you have a viable business model and a successful application.