Opinion: King's Candy Crush is enjoying its 'Angry Birds moment'
Developer living up to its name
You know how it is. You set off on your vacation and, it doesn't matter where you go or for how long for, work somehow manages to catch up with you.
So it was that, on my plane out to Mallorca, along the Spanish island's rocky coast, in the airport on the way back and on my late plane home, one mobile game kept popping up time and time again – and for once it wasn't Angry Birds.
Indeed, it only occurred to me just how often I'd encountered King's Candy Crush Saga during my week off when on Saturday night, somewhere over the English Channel, I watched as the chap sat next to me taught his wife how to play on her iPhone.
He then watched over her intently as, slowly but surely, she got just as addicted to the game as he had been earlier in the flight.
Crushing the opposition
She wasn't alone, either. Between the cracks of the chairs immediately in front, I could see the family in front watching as their kid was finally silenced by taking on Candy Crush on the father's Android.
Something's happening here, I thought.
Of course, I've been perfectly aware that Candy Crush Saga has a somewhat healthy following for some time now, even if the exact reasoning behind it's success eludes me.
I should probably state here that I've always been quite an enthusiastic Bejeweled fan. To me, Candy Crush Saga has always seemed like an attempt to improve on what is already a mainstream master – an attempt that's never quite won me over.
But I'm firmly in the minority, it would appear.
There are now a good hundred or so smartphone games you could describe as being smash hits of a cataclysmic level – of which Candy Crash Saga has long been one – but the number of games able to reach the heights of Rovio's aforementioned monster in terms of reaching a broad as audience as possible is few, if not non-existent.
Candy Crush Saga, I'd say, is on track to hit those same targets.
While you'll find plenty of consumers who wouldn't identify as 'gamers' but are aware of mobile titles such as Cut the Rope or Fruit Ninja, King's Candy Crush Saga appears to have moved above and beyond that particular echelon.
Not only are your friends, your gran, your mother, your brother and your financial advisor all talking about Candy Crush Saga – they're also playing it.
It appears King has no intention of stopping, either. During my time away I also happened upon the very functional, but likely effective, Candy Crush Saga television ads.
Given I'd been surrounded by said game virtually all week, you might question whether further promotion is even needed. It's likely, however, that said TV spots aren't purely about driving sales, but also further building brand awareness.
As Rovio can attest, for studios that wish to truly become mobile superpowers, much of their strength needs to be driven by their presence away from the actual games. Almost half of Rovio's revenues last year, for instance, came from the studio's consumer products division.
For games looking to break out from the mobile arena, merchandising and licensing deals are key.
Candy Crush Saga's appeal is, perhaps, less obvious in this particular arena – it's hard to imagine a Candy Crush movie, for instance – but the TV ads are undoubtedly a step in this direction.
What this will mean for mobile as a whole, however, is just as interesting. It's unlikely developers will be all too keen to try and clone Candy Crush wholesale – match-three puzzlers are hardly rare as it is.
But the idea of taking an accepted model and stretching it out so a user's progress is tracked, contained and monetised more effectively is an approach that's only likely to grow in popularity amongst developers in the months and years ahead.
Whether any of these games will be capable of filling the plane escorting me on my way to my next holiday with loyal players old and new, however, remains to be seen.
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Heather Stark | 19:51 - 24 September 2013
As regards consumer product spinoffs, I've been amused to see the Candy Crush socks appearing. Cute but not perhaps urgent. I think it would be interesting to provide level-specific goods - bracelet charms from someone with fulfilment expertise, like Pandora, tie pins (and perhaps even candy, which might need to be replenished....).
Jean O'connor | 05:28 - 12 June 2013
wtf with #122 you give 30 tries but after 5 to 6 you close's up , saying the bomb is about to explowed, come on get the game right and be fair.
Andrew Bryant | 14:23 - 5 June 2013
You can add 'your midwife' to the list of 'yours'. Yes, we were introduced to it in a maternity ward. I won't name names.
jon jordan | 12:24 - 3 June 2013
Of course, the big difference with Angry Birds is that King's Saga games are inherent social across Facebook and mobile thanks to the Saga leaderboard element.
Keith Andrew | 11:33 - 3 June 2013
That's probably true. It's certainly an interesting move - there's no subtlety to the ads at all, they're very literal, which ads to the reminder argument, I think.
Nicholas Lovell | 11:20 - 3 June 2013
Actually, i think the ads are more likely to be user retention technique than a user acquisition technique. Candy Crush is a game that needs people to be in the moment to make money. Getting people - especially non-gamers - to remember is a key priority of the ads.
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