I Will Play Candy Crush No More Forever

In which I finally get a post I started on about two years ago out of my drafts folder.

Five years ago we picked up an iPad 2 after Christmas with some gift cards and a bit of cash we had around the house.  The iPad was a luxury good in my opinion, not something we needed, so I wasn’t going to pull money out of the budget for one but my wife, ever the clever shopper, pointed out how we could get one without touching any of our accounts, so we went out and got one.

While it was supposed to be a device for the whole family… and I did try to share… I quickly became its primary user.

Everyone in the house has played with my iPad

I even got an app for the cats

A lot of games have come and gone on the old iPad over the last five years, but three seem to have stuck through the whole time; Ticket to Ride, DragonVale, and Candy Crush Saga.

Ticket to Ride is an example of a board game translated to the tablet just right and remains a joy to play through to this day.  I own it and all its expansions. (I still think the Windows version is crap by comparison.)

DragonVale is something my daughter wanted to play.  But then I started helping her with it, eventually becoming the sole person interested in this little “breed and collect” game.  At some point I will do a post about how this game has evolved over the last five years and how it should be a model for others who follow.

And then there is Candy Crush Saga, a horrible game from a horrible company… they literally took another company’s game, made their own version with slightly better visuals and a new name, and then, at some later point, actually tried to suppress the game they copied… that I downloaded just to see what all the fuss was about.

The game itself actually isn’t all that horrible.  It is just another minor variation in the long tradition of tile matching games that stretches back to the early days of the computer age.  Once we all had color monitors, we started matching colors to score.  And the game is actually well put together, stable, colorful, and all the things that make for success.

The horrible bit is the business model.  And the company that made it… mustn’t forget King.com, now part of the happy Activision-Blizzard family.

Candy Crush Saga uses every marginally ethical trick in the free to play book to get people to spend money on it, or at least get people to annoy their friends about it.  It is the true spiritual successor to FarmVille in my mind.  The key barrier to playing are time gates.  You only get five plays, and a play gets used up if you fail on a level.  They regenerate at a rate of one every 30 minutes, so if you’re facing a hard level.  And then, once you hit the end of a 15 level segment, you hit the 72 hour wait gate.

Pay us, bug friends, or wait...

Pay us, bug friends, or wait…

Oddly, what Candy Crush does with time gates is not radically different than what DragonVale does.  The latter has its own time gates that you can buy your way through.  However, their aggressive application differs just enough that one annoys me and one doesn’t bother me at all.

Anyway, because of their business model I made it a goal to beat the game without spending any money on it ever.

Back when I picked up Candy Crush Saga on the iPad, there was some debate as to whether or not the game was tilted to force you to pay in order to advance that far or not.  There were all sorts of hurdles and timers and levels where random chance had to fall your way to keep you from progressing.  But was that enough to deter people and make them pay?

King said it was not, pointing out that 70% of players who had gotten to the then top level, 355, had not paid them any money.  You could beat the game without paying!

Later, as the game went on King was saying that 60% of players that had beaten the game by reaching the cap, which was then level 455, had not ponied for the privilege.

With recent iOS updates for Candy Crush Saga the level count has moved past the 2,000 mark.  New levels get added regularly, I have to hand them that.  But the ability to beat the game gets harder with each new 15 level segment they add.  I mean, if you don’t pay.  I could get to the top level in an afternoon with an unlimited budget.

So King has long since stopped talking about how many people beat the game for free… I am going to guess that the percentage has continued to dwindle as the levels have increased… instead focusing on the percentage of players who chose to pay, a number that I saw reported at about 2.3%.  So 97.7% of people who play do not pay, depending on that thin slice to fork out over $20 a month on average to keep things going.

That is your free to play market place right there.  It seems to work for some companies.

My own progress towards beating the game, getting to the top level, started to lag behind.  Without spending any money the time gates and super hard levels start to hold you back.  I spent three weeks on a single level at one point, during which I think King added 30 levels to the game.  Yet I persisted.  Once I am on a quest I do tend to hang on.

However, a final problem arose.  For Christmas my wife got me a new iPad, and 32MB iPad Air 2, bringing me somewhat up to date on the iOS hardware scene.  The upgrade was due, the old iPad 2 was struggling to keep up with new apps and had developed a memory fault that caused apps to crash when they queued too much data.  So I backed it up and restored everything to the new iPad Air 2, then wiped the old one and started it up fresh as just a viewer for Netflix and Amazon Prime videos, where it still seems to be able to hold its own.

And everything ran great on the new unit.  I am quite happy with it.  However, there was one issue.  All of my progress on Candy Crush Saga was lost.  Unlike every other app on the old iPad, it didn’t store its data in a way that let me move is across to the new unit, even though it was the same Game Center ID.

So that led to a dual moment, the feeling that my quest was over before it could be fulfilled and a sense of being released from a minor obsession.  Because I was not going to start over again.

So I can report that I made it nearly to level 700.  I took screen shots now and again to mark my progress, the last one being at level 680.  I made it beyond that, but pics or it didn’t happen I guess.

Last point recorded

Last point recorded… waiting for that 72 hour timer

So we’re done with that.  Meanwhile, Candy Crush Saga continues its tenure on the top revenue generating iOS apps, and King.com keeps adding levels to make sure it stays there.  They pretty much have to since, again in the Zynga mold, they haven’t been able to remake their success through remaking the same game over and over again.

10 thoughts on “I Will Play Candy Crush No More Forever

  1. Marathal

    Never paid one penny on it. Like you at one point I lost all data at one point. I started again awhile ago. Back to 162. I can see patterns. Points where you need 3 days to get a combination you burst through a hard level with no problem.


  2. Bhagpusss

    As I think I mentioned once before, that’s pretty much what happened to Mrs Bhagpuss. She started playing Candy Crush a few months back because, I think, she noticed it for the first time among the apps that came pre-installed on the PCs we bought last Spring. She also vowed never to pay a penny and hasn’t.

    She was somewhere in the low 300s when, in November, I think it was, she had a problem with her PC that necessitated re-installing Windows10. The exact same thing happens under Windows as you found under iOS – there’s no record kept of your progress. I think the idea is that you are supposed to link to your Facebook account and a record is kept there, meaning you can recover your progress that way if anything happens to the machine you play on, but she hadn’t bothered to do that.

    Unlike you, though, she did start again because, as she said, “it’s all the same anyway, what difference does it make?”. She’s currently back in the 300s again but she did say that if she loses her progress a second time that’s that. I note that she she still doesn’t care enough to link to FB, even though, unlike me, she does have a Facebook account.

    CCS seems to be to be the very definition of a pastime. It has literally no other purpose than to mark the passing of time in a pleasant fashion. It’s the video-game equivalent of twiddling your thumbs, something I love to do and which drives Mrs Bhagpuss to distraction if she has to see me doing it. Both activities seem to me to be about as useful as one another.


  3. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Marathal – Yes, one of my past times would be to figure out exactly what had to happen on a give super hard level in order for a win to even be possible given the non-paying parameters. Or I would just hoard the daily free treats that would enable me to win like I bought my way through.

    Also, in five years of daily spins, I never once got the super deluxe one-of-each-thing multipack reward.


  4. GwendlynD

    Not to fan the fires of small gaming addictions here but if you are looking for a new puzzle puzzle type one then Marvel puzzle quest is also highly addictive and free.


  5. Anonymous

    Not sure when started playing candy crush but i refuse to give them money for this game, on level 2034 now in levels much harder but i will stay on that board for 1 maybe 2 months until they give me a winning board #GetNoMoneyOutOfMe. Still enjoy playing though. But when are y’all going to give me a jackpot spin.


  6. April

    I’m on 2095 I put .99 in like 2 years ago and that was it. I log in through king.com and have never had an issue playing on multiple devices. My only complaint is that I deleted (not just deactivated) my original Facebook years ago and finally created a new one last year and candy won’t connect to my new Facebook because I had it connected to a previous one that is now deleted.


  7. Jennifer L Piuma

    I’ve been playing a year. I’m an average player I’m up to 1344. I have never spent a dime. It’s not that I refuse but I just don’t have. But I actually had a sweet stock of boosters. On 3 separate occasions they wiped me out. Took every last booster I earned. But now after reading your post I do believe their intention was for me to buy back all I lost. I was seriously devestated the first time. I never thought I would play again. But I did and I’m just over it now. Take them I don’t care.


  8. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    Also, if you write a blog post that includes something about losing your progress in Candy Crush Saga, Google will beat a path to your door.

    It certainly wasn’t that Chief Joseph allusion in the title that has been bringing people here.


  9. Ruby Kerns

    Please fix CC having trouble loading this game on my galaxy 3 phone.I’m on level 1383 I will never start over.


  10. Lo Mo

    I’m on level 1890 and haven’t paid a dime. Can’t stand the fact that they wipe out all your extras boosters for no apparent reason, and when you write in to complain, you never hear back from them. I’ve quit many times only to be drawn back in again. I’ve received the jackpot just once.


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