Candy Crush Game: The Recipe for Addiction

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It was just another mobile game spamming my Facebook feed. Family and friends urged me to join them in what appeared to be yet another Bejeweled clone. I gave it a week… then another, but the popularity of the Candy Crush Game continued to spread.

This is hardly the first time a mobile game has gone mainstream. Angry Birds, Cut the Rope and others have quickly turned mobile gaming into a billion dollar industry. So what causes apps like the Candy Crush Game to explode in popularity? How can we use these gaming mechanics and apply them to our own games, businesses and personal lives.

The 5 Ingredients for Addiction

1. Social

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Adding social functionality to game is not only the easiest way to increase users, it also enhances the game’s engagement. In Candy Crush, the game begins by encouraging the player to connect to Facebook. This accomplishes two things: First, if gives the game a marketing outlet by asking the player to invite his/her friends. Second, it shows the scores of the player’s friends, urging the player to repeat levels in hopes of crushing their friends’ scores. Candy Crush also uses friend invites as an alternative form of payment for in-app purchases, drastically reducing their cost per user acquisition.

2. Set Goals

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Like Angry Birds, Candy Crush has level based gameplay. After completing a challenge the player advances to the next level, always curious about what’s coming next. We’ve been subconsciously trained to be a task-oriented society. Knowing that there’s more to accomplish gives the player a sense of incompleteness. Candy Crush also uses a 3 star system for each level. So even after the game is complete, there’s a score based goal on each individual level.

3. Competition

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Competition is key. In the Candy Crush Game, players compete against themselves, their friends and other Candy Crush players for the high score. After each level, the game reports the player’s score and shows them how it compares to their friends. Never underestimate the power of pride among peers.

4. Unlockables

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Who doesn’t like presents? The Candy Crush Game uses virtual presents or unlockables to enrich the gameplay experience. The unlockables range from powerups to score boosters and often appear after a few levels have been completed. Players get addicted to the special gifts and will often pay real money to keep them coming!

5. Simple

Although the gameplay evolves overtime, the concept is simple. Players must connect at least 3 candies of the same color in a row. When new dynamics are introduced, a guide appears on the screen and quickly explains the new RULE. Not RULE(S). It’s important to start simple and gain complexity over time. If you try to introduce too many dynamics at the beginning of the game the complexity will overwhelm the player and they won’t stick around to learn. If the game never evolves the player will get bored. It’s a constant struggle to find the balance, but when found it’s extremely powerful!

Looking for more addictive games? Check out Business Insider’s 12 Incredibly Addicting iPhone Games

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