Candy crush saga

     
King"s games guru Tommy Palm on the trò chơi that"s being played 700m times a day on smartphones and tablets


The key stat is right there in the headline: seven in ten people who"ve reached the last cấp độ of wildly-popular sản phẩm điện thoại game Candy Crush Saga haven"t spent any money on in-app purchases.

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This may come as a surprise. Hardcore gamers (and a fair few developers) often attack King"s puzzler as the epitome of dreadful, money-sucking freemium gaming, exploiting people too stupid to realise they"re being exploited.


It"s gaming snobbery of the worst kind, và not because Candy Crush doesn"t sometimes feel over-aggressive in the way its difficulty curve nudges players towards in-app purchases – it sometimes does – but because it"s based on a view of casual gamers as little more than lab rats, tapping buy-buttons when commanded rather than seeking "proper" games elsewhere.

As a player, I ducked out of Candy Crush Saga when I hit my personal ceiling of fun versus payment. As a journalist, though, I feel lượt thích defending the game against its fiercer critics, who seem khổng lồ think its players are incapable of making similar decisions.

"70% of the people on the last màn chơi haven"t paid anything. It"s designed so you can complete the game," says Tommy Palm, whose official job title is "Games Guru" at King, although his role is more akin lớn a head of global studios for the social and mobile games publisher.

"We focus internally a lot on the player experience, making sure it"s really fun to lớn play. Và we vày not differentiate between people who pay & people who don"t: we just see them as players, and optimise in making sure the game is really fun. So far, that"s been a great strategy for us."

Quite. Candy Crush Saga is currently being played 700m times a day on di động devices alone. Palm declines to give an active-users figure, but analytics site AppData claims that the trò chơi currently has 132.4m quality monthly players across web and mobile – a figure that only includes people who"ve connected the game to Facebook.

Estimates vary on how much money Candy Crush Saga is making: Le Parisien recently claimed the game"s daily revenues were €470k (around $623k), while ThinkGaming pegs them at $850k.

Whatever the number, app store top-grossing charts show it"s one of the three most lucrative thiết bị di động games in the world right now – alongside Puzzle & Dragons và Clash of Clans – and has been since shortly after its tiện ích ios release in November 2012.

King has made the most of the game"s success. The company now claims 100m daily active users (DAUs) across all its web & mobile games – the latter include Bubble Witch Saga & Pet Rescue Saga, with Papa Pear Saga following soon.

In April, King also claimed that it had overtaken Zynga, the reigning giant of social gaming, for DAUs of its games. Based on the latest 100m DAUs figure, that lead has since stretched considerably: in the second quarter of this year, Zynga reported 39m DAUs.



Tommy Palm says PC, iOS và Android remain King"s focus for nowWhy, then, has Candy Crush Saga become so big? Palm doesn"t have a big secret khổng lồ reveal, perhaps unsurprisingly. "The theme is very good, everybody can relate to lớn the candy pieces: it"s very positive và makes for very colourful và nice shapes," he says.

"Then of course there is the accessibility of the entire game: it"s a cross-platform game you can play on computer then continue from your smartphone and you tablet. The trò chơi is không lấy phí to play, of course, và there is the social aspect of seeing how your friends are doing."

You could say the same about a growing number of thiết bị di động games, but none of them are as big as Candy Crush Saga, so there"s clearly something else going on here – even if it"s just a perfect storm of luck và fortuitous timing akin to the one that fuelled Angry Birds" sharp rise in early 2010.

He also suggests that Candy Crush Saga was a better experience on smartphones than King"s previous trò chơi Bubble Witch Saga, which was another factor in its rise.

"Bubble Witch Saga was a huge success on Facebook, and it was also popular on mobile, but not as big as it could be, & part of that was that it plays great on iPads with larger screens, but you kinda had to lớn squint on smartphones," says Palm.

"Candy Crush Saga fits really well on smartphones as well as tablets, & I think most of our players really appreciate that you can get these games for your điện thoại cảm ứng too."

More stats? Palm says that more than 90% of Candy Crush Saga players are older than 21, và the split is roughly 50/50 between men & women.

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King itself now has 550 staff, up from 150 when he joined the company in March 2012. Palm says that the advertiser is recruiting aggressively as it expands, but that it"s also trying lớn ensure its teams better reflect the mainstream audience its games are being played by.

"In the Swedish office we have more women working there than many other IT companies in Sweden, but there"s an industry-wide problem getting enough women. We want as mixed an environment as possible," he says.

Palm adds that he"s teaching his own young daughters khổng lồ use the Scratch educational programming language, although (unsurprisingly) he"d lượt thích to see more mobile features for it.



Papa Pear Saga is the next King game to go smartphone (Facebook version shown)What about King"s future, though? The company"s publishing pipeline is now established: launch lots of games on the King.com website, take a selection of them lớn Facebook with the "Saga" suffix attached, & then port the most popular titles on lớn mobile.

King updates Candy Crush Saga with new nội dung regularly, but if mobile players get bored, they can move on khổng lồ Pet Rescue Saga or (soon) Papa Pear Saga. It seems a sound theory, but it"s one with considerable risks.

Not so long ago, Zynga"s FarmVille và the "Ville" suffix looked just as dominant in the social gaming world, but its lustre has since waned, & under a new CEO, Zynga is now trying to lớn reboot its strategy.

I wonder if one problem with Zynga was that FarmVille ended up being more about compulsion than fun for too many players, & once they kicked the habit, they didn"t want another Ville game. Setting snobbery aside, if Candy Crush Saga"s critics are right, King could face similar problems by putting all its eggs in the Saga basket.

Palm, naturally, says King is keen not lớn rest on its laurels. "As a games company, we need khổng lồ keep it fresh và keep innovating. Games are all about new concepts," he says.

"We still have this great way of working where with small teams of 2-3 people we can try new things and fail fast, rather than the traditional model of very big projects that can run for several years."

What kind of projects are on the way from King, then? Palm points lớn the 150+ games on King.com as proof that the company has more strings lớn its bow than just puzzle-matching games, but says it knows its audience.

"Our vi xử lý core focus is definitely on casual social games, but we want to keep on experimenting và pushing the envelope," he says. For now, King"s focus will also remain on PC (including Facebook) và mobile – specifically iOS and Android in the latter case.

"We want to take games to where the players are, & right now, the players are on PCs, Android and iOS," says Palm, although he admits khổng lồ keeping a keen eye on other platforms & devices.

"The living room is still a very interesting space, and it doesn"t feel that winners have been decided there yet. I"m very keen to see what"s going to lớn happen, and if it"s going to be the traditional players or some new actors," he says.

Candy Crush Saga for Xbox One or PlayStation 4? Don"t hold your breath, even if the announcement this week (and since this interview was conducted) of Sony"s PlayStation Vita TV set-top box hints at potential for publishers like King.

Consoles and dedicated handhelds aren"t on the radar for now, though, perhaps lớn the relief of the game snobs. "The numbers are not there yet for a company like us," says Palm.


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