Might & Magic VI | New World Computing
Back in November, I recall seeing quite an insane amount of advertisements for Candy Crush with it celebrating 10 years. While this kind of game is not my thing I have to give it to them for creating some rather fun celebration content around the game.
I thought why not give it a try? A game being around for over a decade that still has a healthy population of players enjoying it. Is a feat that you rarely seem to see these days in the current climate of gaming in general.
While the first level of Candy Crush Saga that I played is not featured in the screenshot above. This game seems to heavily focus on fun celebrations by changing certain candy appearances for events or celebrations of things like a session.
This first level I thought was quite basic as it is. I just had to slide candies matching them into groups of three or bigger. Certain combinations of those candies would yield different kinds of wrapped treats.
The game went from rather basic to some rather complex boards and even tile sets on the board to deal with rather quickly. This is just level 25 of Candy Crush Saga. This game has over 13k levels. That massive amount got me thinking.
How complex could a game like this get? While I did not enjoy the game much in itself. Curiosity did get the better of me. So I continued to play very causally on and over the next two months.
On top of some basic instructions of what was going on new tiles of candies and sweets were being introduced along the way. The game will even start to indicate which candies you should slide on the board after a very short amount of time.
I found such a feature to be helpful later in the game as the boards got more complex if I was just not seeing a possible move I had on the board. I also felt every time I took whatever the game recommended for my action it feel a bit like cheating.
After a while, I started to realize that sometimes the game's suggested move had all kinds of outcomes that I could not simply see from candies that were not on the board yet. Yielding some massive plays and scoring it. It would also not always recommend the best move to make to win that level.
I had on a few occasions just one move remaining. I was also one move away from winning. Instead of the game suggesting that winning move. It suggested me doing something else. Which out of curiosity I did. Resulting in me losing that level in question.
After playing a couple of levels a day I would always have to stop. You have 5 hearts or as you might see might view them as lives. When you fail to complete a level's objective you can either pay for more moves or lose a heart. The hearts regenerate over time which made sense and I don’t have an issue with them doing it that way.
You can also buy more hearts out of the shop or there is some kind of friend system that I never went near. It was my goal to never spend any money on this game. As such, when I did get free gold bars I would sometimes use them to buy more hearts and other times some candies you could use as free moves on the board.
What I did not like the most about this game is the constant attempt it taking advantage of instant gratification and impulse buying. It’s no wonder this game is making a literal killing in revenue per year.
When you complete the level's objective the game puts on quite the show. All the remaining moves you have to get used in creating wild explosions of candies getting combined and blown off the board. As the points, you have skyrocketed.
This game loves to reinforce the success of beating the level in a way. It felt like they were trying to get the player to get an endorphin rush out of the experience. This I have come to expect from games however it is quite alarming how short these levels took to beat in many cases and how quickly the game wanted to feed addiction for such feelings of success.
So what happens when you fail to complete the objects for a level? The game would allow you to keep playing. You just had to pay using gold bars for a couple of extra moves. Were you would hope you could finish off a level.
There came a point where I had hit this particular level where I used up all 5 of my hearts. I decided to take a break from the game for the day and come back the next day. I yet again failed all attempts I had till more hearts would regenerate.
I decided I’d had enough. I’d go and type that level into a search engine and see If there was some kind of “tips” for said level. I instantly realized the video that was shown over a year ago not only had no issues finishing that level. There was also something rather fishy going on.
They had 10 more moves than I did. I kept coming up with 1 move short of winning over and over again. So I went out and looked up a few other levels. I noticed the same thing. Apparently, at some point, this game did some difficult “adjustments” from the best I could tell.
That is true is rather alarming. I could understand if they were doing that for the newest of levels if players were progressing far too fast. I however had not even reached level 100 if I recall at the time.
In the end, I decided to burn some gold bars and other resources I had at the time to easily crush the level I was stuck in. It’s not just good enough to beat a level. You need to beat it quickly enough to earn free gold bars.
Up till that point, the game was entering me into episode races against other “players.” I found for a while if I just spent some of the gold bars I was stocking up that I could win those races. Where I would then break even or even come ahead on gold bars so it was well worth the spending early on.
That however only lasted for so long. After a certain point if I wanted to stay completive I slowly needed to start spending more and more gold bars worth of items that I was getting. Otherwise, I’d end up in possibly last place only earning a single bar as shown in the screenshot above.
That short thrill the game was trying to give me as a player of not only winning levels quickly but beating everyone else for free gold quickly ended. I had a feeling they were trying to take advantage of players who realized early on if they spent a little of their free resources they would get a lot more back.
The game failed at what they were attempting to do to me. They did not convert me over to a paying customer. For me in a game like this, that is just not fun and would feel like cheating.
Every day the game would try and reward me for finishing so many levels with a big discount as a reward. I simply said no. I don’t care if it’s a “90%” discount for a bunch of special items that would under the right conditions make a level easy to beat.
At one point I decided I had enough of this game's tricks to try to get me to spend. I decided it was time to take a break. I however did truly want to see how insane these levels must get the further you progress along.
At one point I returned for a holiday event. Where I was not shocked. You got to randomly pick a prize daily. You could select to keep that reward which was usually a 30-minute buff or risk it all and pick again. You would usually get another 30 minutes of that same buff or if you were lucky another different buff.
If you wanted to you could keep gambling till you picked it wrong. At that point not only did you lose the last reward you won you lost them all. No free buffs for the day for you. Naturally, if you wanted to pay some gold you could try it all over again.
I then got tired of the game and its endlessly trying to get me to spend to “win.” So I took a much longer break the second time around. Then one day I decided I’d rack up some holiday event rewards again and get some progress.
I have never seen a game use a free-to-play player return after they got frustrated with the game in such a way. They gave me an X amount of free moves that would roll over till I used them all up for returning to the game. This made beating any level almost like child’s play even more so if I selected to use some of my stockpile of candies for special opening moves.
You might be wondering how is that using the free-to-play players. Well, it just so happens if I time things right. I could take a break on the last level of an episode. Come back in to crush it. I then would get placed into another episode race.
I would be using my remaining free extra moves over other players in that race (assuming they were not grouping up all the returning players into the same races to keep things fair to everyone else playing). Where I would skyrocket past everyone like I was a spender to number one in that race.
Naturally, this was not enough to win me the race. I would have to start spending gold bars and other resources if I truly wanted to win the race. My sudden rise out of nowhere usually seemed to bait the person in second place who usually had quite the lead by the time I joined when I knocked them out of first. Who suddenly found themselves now losing that race.
I can only make an assumption that said second-place player then would go on a spending spree of resources or even spend real money on the game to surpass me. As it is quite easy in this game to fall into the trap of I already spent X amount of gold bars or money to win more gold bars and if I just spent a couple more I would win back first place the main prize.
As naturally the more competition there was in a single race to try and win some free gold bars. The more spending and using of resources a player had to try and win them. Even more so if you could win a few of these races and get put into higher rewarding ones with even bigger spenders. How smart of the game to do so. Yet, how dirty of the game as well to take advantage of player's endless short-term needs for instant gratification and hits of endorphins from winning.
Needless to say, after a while I decided I was done for good with this game. The further I got which was not far. The more different kinds of tiles I would have to clear out had all different kinds of rulesets from what could even break them open to them expanding out to other tiles on the board.
It seemed like this game was not making it harder to play till I got better skill-wise and knowledge-wise at the game. It was getting harder to get me to spend all the resources I had won for free to the point of needing to spend money on the game to buy more. Otherwise, I’d just have to retry a level many times just to beat it till I got bored and took another long break from the game.
Screenshots were taken and content was written by @Enjar about Candy Crush Saga.