Gambiling with CandyCrush

Throughout this blog and podcast we will be discussing the potential implications of Candy Crush mobile games and well as the moral panic that surrounds the game.

To critically analyse potential implications we need to first understand the hardware of the game and the technology that surrounds it as well as its economic background.


“Start playing Candy Crush Saga today – a legendary puzzle game loved by millions of players around the world. With over a trillion levels played, this sweet match 3 puzzle game is one of the most popular mobile games of all time!

Switch and match Candies in this tasty puzzle adventure to progress to the next level for that sweet winning feeling! Solve puzzles with quick thinking and smart moves, and be rewarded with delicious rainbow-colored cascades and tasty candy combos!

Plan your moves by matching 3 or more candies in a row, using boosters wisely in order to overcome those extra sticky puzzles! Blast the chocolate and collect sweet candy across thousands of levels, guaranteed to have you craving more!” (Apple App Store, 2019)

Candy Crush is known as a casual game, one that has had some of the biggest success of any game developed.


King is one of the biggest entertainment companies for the mobile gaming world,with studios in over 8 locations including Berlin,London and San Francisco. They have over 200 different games including Candy Crush, Pet Rescue, Farm Heroes and Bubble Witch. “We have 258 million monthly active users as of second quarter 2019 accross web,social and mobile platforms”(

“At King, we design games with a broad appeal, which allow people to play for a moment, then move on with their day and pick up their games later. Our games are also synchronised across platforms, allowing players to switch seamlessly between devices and platforms and continue their game wherever they left off, so they can play anywhere , anytime and on any device. For us, this is encapsulated in the idea of bite size entertainment”(King, 2019)

Candy crush is a game developed by in 2011 available on android and IOS devices ( for apple you need IOS8 or above, for Ipad, iPod and iPhone)  “Levels range from easy to hard for all adults to play – accessible on-the-go, offline and online” (Apple App Store, 2019) With players on all seven continents, including Antartica.


Players have the ability to sync the game between devices an d unlock game features when connected to the internet or wifi. It’s also a free to play game but optional in-game items require payment. But you can turn this option off through your device settings.

As a player you also have the ability to play alone or with friends “Get on top of the leaderboard events and compare scores with friends or competitors” (Apple App Store, 2019)

In recent years there’re have been multiple updates in the hardware of the game, Candy Crush developers take advantage of the latest trends and developments in hardware to ensure they receive the most impact on players. “In order for Candy Crush to process billions and billions of rows, they have to be running software that takes advantages of the latest hardware trends and the latest modern programming techniques. Otherwise they’ll never actually get through  all of that information in a reasonable enough amount of time to still be able to visualise results and make a difference for their customers”(Johnson, 2016)

“Players are kept active with the huge volume of new content always being introduced to the game. New features are released for the game every second week, and new levels are released in between those”(May, 2019)

Its been said that Candy Crush is personalised for each individual player, mining your data to analyse how you play and adjusting the conditions of the game to encourage you further to play or spend money. As well as this candy crush it advertsied through all the social media platforms we access, such as Facebook.


“In fact, these computerized technological innovations feature some of the most advanced technology in the gaming arena. The one aspect of slot machine games that the unassuming observer does not see from the outside is the concept of a random number generator. But what exactly is a RNG? Simply put, a random number generator is a highly complex software program that randomizes all outcomes to ensure that every spin generates a result that is independent of the previous spin in every way. Simulating randomness in a mad made creation may appear to be an insuperable challenge, but the world’s leading software providers and gaming developers have perfected this”(Casino Cruise)


  • Only casino games aren’t as accessible, they take longer to play, there is more commitment involved
  • Slot machines hardware is physical in casinos on actual games devices, as well as online through mobile devices and computers
  • Whereas Candy Crush is only mobile – computers


Candy Crush Saga is a free, puzzle-match video game developed by Sweden’s King Digital Entertainment. The popular game was first released in 2012 for Facebook’s browser, then later on released for iOS, Android, Windows, etc.

Alex Dale, a senior exec. At Candy Crush Saga developer King, told a UK House of Commons select committee that approx. 3.4% or 9.2 million users spend “3+ hours a day” playing the game” (McKay, 2019)


Every free-to-play game has its own form of currency. The currency may come in different forms, but ultimately it’s still bought, traded, converted, and/or exchanged.

“Candy Crush, you require 3 friends (we call this a “staffing mechanic”) to gain access to new level chapters. This means that the amount of friends and friend requests you can acquire are effectively a form of currency that is exchanged for something tangible in-game, progress” (Anil 2013).

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Freemium: Game developers strategically create a balance between making their game challenging and rewarding for the player. Candy Crush’s “freemium”, or free-to-play, business model allows players to download and play the game for free. However, users have the option to connect their card and purchase in-app “boosters” or extra lives in order to continue onto the next level. These are called “microtransactions”. These payments target the users’ strong need to win.

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This optional virtual consumption allows the users to hold some form of power over their wallets where most players choose not to purchase lives. However, the small percent of players that do spend real money in the game tend to spend a lot.

This free-to-play model has proven to be extremely effective where in 2018 King made $1.5 billion (nearly $4.2 million per day) in revenue across iOS and Android in-game purchases. The game’s success has led to the game developer’s rapid growth where they now have offices in Stockholm, London and San Francisco.


Candy Crush offers discounts and bundle packages in their “candy shop”. In 2018, users reportedly spent an astonishing average of $4.2 million a day.

Screen Shot 2019-10-13 at 9.13.10 pm.png

For comparison, a single Las Vegas Strip slot machine makes an average of $226 per day.


Over the years, King has avoided the mistakes and misfortunes that San Francisco-based rival game developer Zynga, creator of the popular Farmville and Words with Friends, has made. Zynga flew so high and crashed so low by financially relying on Facebook, overspending, restructuring, and insider trading. Unlike Zynga, King continues to focus on maintaining a cross-platform model, where players may start playing on one platform (Candy Crush app) and continue the game on another (Facebook).

Screen Shot 2019-10-13 at 9.15.02 pm

King has overshadowed Zynga, forcing investors to shift their focus on the company. In 2014, King became a public limited company (PLC) where the initial public offering price was $18.00 per share.



We happen to have someone kind enough to let us have a quick discussion with them about our topic. Bruce is a 27 year old male, who plays candy crush on average for 30min per day.

Over the years, Candy Crush has been associated with various meanings and controversies, many of them negative.


Candy Crush or gambling?

The game has produced moral panic within the media as the 270 million players can be seen as “addicted” to the puzzle. 

The game developers obviously have a money-making motive in place which can be seen in their marketing strategies. Scores are public, which ultimately encourages the user to perform better and “show off”. Players have the option to connect their progress with their friends and family, which makes their online game achievements available to their real-life relationships. This social motivation can encourage game competition, forcing the player to spend more time with the game.

With all of these sneaky strategies, many people consider Candy Crush to be a form of “modern day gambling”. Looking at some basic casino spending strategies, there seems to be a crossover in methods…

  1. Hiding progression of time with dark room (Candy Crush = game’s constant daytime setting)
  2. Making sure everyone sees a win (C.C. = playing with friends and family)
  3. Putting opportunities in your path (C.C. “free perks” = extra lives, boosts)
  4. Chips rather than cash (C.C. = gold bars)
  5. They know you won’t do the maths (C.C. = advertising how much you will save with discounts on lives)
  6. Giving you the illusion of control (C.C. = extra spin for booster/life if you watch advertisements)

The game also targets the players emotional self by allowing a player to send extra lives to other players, creating many consumer rituals which can be interpreted as meaningful exchanges (virtual gifts).


“Gambling machines were meant to have a mesmerizing effect on the user, creating yet another kind of magic circle, an intensive feedback loop connecting the player and the device. Mechanical repetition was to induce psychological repetition, which at times manifested itself as compulsive behaviour. The goal was to make the user spend more and more coins at an increasing pace. The effectiveness of this formula is proven by the fact that it still is the basis of millions of slot machines in casinos around the world” 

“Many people are concerned with the dedication that players have to this game, especially when it comes to spending real money on virtual commodities. Spending money on a game that brings people joy is often perceived as a negative thing.”

Screen Shot 2019-10-14 at 12.27.01 PM “One of our guys was really addicted to it. He complained about spending money on it  and how they figured out exactly how he plays and when to give him 99c five extra moves and a lollipop to bust- you know, busting through the next piece of candy”(Johnson, 2016)

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With the rise of this game, there have been many Candy Crush fan clubs and communities created. This gives users somewhat of an “escape” from their day-to-day routines, a chance to communicate with other players in a different way, the sharing of thoughts and ideas, creating online relationships.

“I can say why I think it is fun to play computer games and that is, well, the whole thing about getting to know about another world or getting to know about another character, another role, a way to get away from everyday life. I guess that’s what’s fascinating, that it’s another role, so to speak (Participant B)”

Suzy Fuller is a popular Candy Crush player who uploads YouTube videos on hints, tips, and tricks in order to pass each level. Suzy has over 20,000 YouTube subscribers and thousands of upvotes on each video.

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Other fan clubs include one created by King Entertainment that links the member directly to the game, as well as Facebook groups/pages, Reddit communities, etc.

Screen Shot 2019-10-14 at 12.31.24 PM.png

“…we see that this connectivity offers players the ability to exchange ideas, knowledge (like walkthroughs or cheat codes) and game-elements (like updates or patches) amongst each other via the Internet. We see these practices for example in the subcultures that have been formed around certain computer games and fans modifying these games” 


There is so much backlash on Candy Crush due to the “passive nature” of the player. However, there is less participation when watching television.

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Yeh, O. (2019). Candy Crush Players Spent $4.2 Million Per Day Last Year, Pushing the Franchise’s 2018 Total Past $1.5 Billion. [online] Available at: [Accessed 14 Oct. 2019].

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