Jul 292013

Status: Reached the pay point; stopped.

Most Intriguing Idea: Using match-three gameplay as the basis for a light puzzler

Best Design Decision: Using row/column clearing as the base special

Worst Design Decision: Combining random boards and drops with puzzles


Candy Crush Saga riffs on its basic match-three gameplay with some light puzzles that require the player to remove “jelly” from certain spots by making matches inside them, eliminate “frosting” obstacles by making matches next to them, or to move special pieces down the board to the bottom. Challenge is added by putting gaps on the board that pieces and special moves may cross but matches may not, and by traditional means such as move limits or timers. However, the starting layout and all the drops are random, which makes many of the challenges extremely dependent on luck, especially when frosting or unusual layouts are involved. No quantity of good judgment is sufficient to ensure success on certain boards within the move limit.

As such, Candy Crush Saga is a fundamentally broken game, and it works around its brokenness by allowing players to pay real money for additional turns, powerups, or faster tries at a puzzle. By creating challenges that test the player’s luck while pretending to test the player’s skill, it encourages em to buy extra moves or more lives out of sheer frustration, rather than enjoyment. Candy Crush Saga generates player distress and leverages that for monetization purposes. It is exploitative and should be avoided.

Verdict: Avoid

  3 Responses to “Candy Crush Saga”

  1. It strikes me that the basic design of the game–match 3 tiles, add varying objectives, increase extra options and difficulties as you play, randomize the tile falls–could be finessed into a roguelike, where the emphasis is on random configuration and a “dying is fun” sort of aesthetic. After all, Candy Crush Saga isn’t all that far from 1 000 0000 (10 000 000? Too lazy to verify). But yeah, the pay mechanics ensure that it’s more exploitative than engaging.

    • I would say 10000000 is almost exactly the game you’re describing. I liked that one a lot, and I think there’s a lot of mileage for engaging play with the match-3 mechanic. Candy Crush seems like a mistaken design however, one that literally makes its players pay for its own shortcomings.

  2. Yeah, even while I was typing the comment, I realized what I wanted was essentially a game I’ve already played. Then I thought maybe what I really wanted was 10000000’s randomness, but with a tighter quest structure, and realized I was describing Puzzle Quest. So really, there are already multiple alternatives to CCS that do the same things, but better.

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