Candy Crush Represents Everything That's Wrong with Mobile Gaming

Candy Crush is designed for one thing and one thing only: separating you from your money.


Candy Crush is a hugely popular game, both on Facebook and mobile. As a game, it's well made, challenging, and rewarding to play. On the surface, it does its job perfectly. But when you start to dig a little deeper, it becomes clear that the game is not so much a game as it is a carefully masked system designed to siphon as much money as it can from your bank account.

Yes, Candy Crush is technically a free game (meaning you don't have to pay to install it). But at the time of this writing, it is among the top 5 grossing games on the iOS app store. That's because...

Candy Crush is a Shakedown

There is no way to get around it: Candy Crush is a shakedown. It sucks you in with its cute appearance, soothing soundtrack, and addictive gameplay, before grabbing you by your ankles, flipping you upside down, and shaking the lunch money out of your pockets. And the farther you progress in the game, the more they want to take.

I'm tempted to compare the game to a crack dealer, because both Candy Crush and crack dealers get you started for free, and only start charging once you're hooked. But ultimately, I realized that the comparison is unfair to crack dealers. Crack dealers don't continue to bump up the prices as you get more addicted. That would be bad for business. But Candy Crush doesn't care. As I played the game, I was constantly reminded of the famous line from Goodfellas: 'F*** you. Pay me.' That seems to be the attitude that the developers took here. I imagine that it's written all over the walls at headquarters.

The worst part is, when you first fire up the game, you won't notice that you're walking into a shakedown. Not right away. You'll breeze through the first dozen levels, getting the first taste, and having a good time. The gameplay is nice. The colors are stimulating. The soundtrack is so damn cute it's sickening. But at some point, you will hit a wall. You will fail. And when you run out of lives, the first shakedown happens. If you want to continue playing, you have three options: wait awhile for the lives to regenerate, pay real money for more lives (, or ask your Facebook friends to gift them to you.

This brings me to...

Bullshit Social Integration

I don't have anything against social integration in general. If a game has a meaningful social component (like Words with Friends does), bring it on. But in too many mobile games, the 'social' element is pointless to the gamer, and benefits only the developer. I imagine a boardroom of people who want to 'go viral' and 'get positive ROI from the social channel.' Yes, it works. But as a consumer, I hate feeling like the product. Prompt me to share if you want, but don't force my hand.

This is a single player game with a social mechanic that effectively equates to panhandling on a street corner. I have nothing against panhandling (just don't knock on my car window man, it's awkward), but don't make me grovel with my real world friends for in-game handouts. It's aggressive, and makes me feel uncomfortable.

The only reason that this 'gameplay' element exists is so the company can use you to market their game to your friends. It's a bullshit 'feature' that you will have to suffer through, and just one of many ways that this game (and many other mobile games) puts itself before the player.

But that's not all. It gets worse.

Bullshit power-ups you have to pay to use

This seems to be the big trend in mobile gaming these days. Congratulations, you unlocked an upgrade! Now pay us a shit ton of real money to use it. In what world does this make sense? Why make me unlock it in the first place if unlocking it doesn't unlock it? The whole experience is horrible, and as it proliferates, it's ruining mobile gaming for me. I don't mind DLC. I don't mind paying for games. But this pay to use the power-up nonsense is getting out of hand.

To be clear, I'm not talking about 99 cent power-ups here. The power-ups in Candy Crush are $16.99, $24.99 and $39.99. That's right. To get the most out of this game, will need to drop at least $82.On a simple single player game that you play on your phone. 

And even then, you need to...

Pay to unlock more levels

The 'free' version of Candy Crush only comes with 35 levels. They don't tell you this up front, of course -- and you will have no idea until you complete level 35. You will be asked to pony up 99 cents to move on. How many levels do you get for 99 cents? They don't tell you. Maybe 50, maybe 10. It's a crap shoot. But for a game where the levels are so simple to design, you must get a ton of them for a dollar, right?

NOPE! You get a couple dozen. And once you finish those, you'll have to pay for more.

I'm tired of this crap

I've installed a lot of games that are designed to take players' money. But none of them have asked for so much so often. Candy Crush represents everything that is wrong with mobile gaming. If things keep moving in this direction, I'm not sure that this is a platform that I'll be interested in playing on anymore. 

Just let me buy the damn game and leave me alone.

Originally Published Apr. 4th 2013


Kevin Spence is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.


  • 1
    Xxmoomoo22xX 1 hour ago
    Shang stop being a smart Alec. 1) use a single post. 2)he was out of date cause the update was probably introduced later. 3) why can't he swear? If he wants to express something then let it be. Go fuck yourself you 7 year old. Troll harder.
  • 1
    Mark_2095 2 days ago
    Interesting reading the comments... pretty obvious that the developers are using shills to post about how the game can be played without spending a dime.

    They're liars. A friend of mine was a developer, and he laughed his butt off when I told him about level 54 in the owl section; "It's not technically impossible. If you played for 10,000 games, you might get a magic combination. But no one, ever, in all the testing, even came close to beating that level without powerups."

    Remember that next time someone talks about this "free" game.

  • 1
    evelyn delacruz 1 week ago
    ita very upsetting that I cannot ask for help for the next level even wait for 72 hours its stuck ,how I begin now to hate this game .
  • 1
    Cathy_4895 2 weeks ago
    I totally agree, I love candy crush but the further in levels you are, the more it costs. These people need to get higher in levels in order to understand. No matter how high your score is you always need one more combo, for a price. Free my ass!
  • 1
    Pat_9368 2 months ago
    For the most part until now, I have enjoyed Candy Crush. However, I have reached my limit at Level 100 and will delete it from my phone. Its not fun anymore. The bombs take away the fun. Who wants to play a game that is impossible to win without paying more money. Thanks for the fun for a little while but I will play games like Solitaire where you at least have a chance and without paying $ after $. Good bye Candy Crush. You SUCK!!
  • 1
    Luke Todd 2 months ago
    What pisses me off enough about this game is that you they have the audacity to think they can charge 16.99$, $24.99, and $39.99 for 1, 2, and 3 lives respectively. With that much money you could shove that out to buy several more fun indie titles or even a couple of old DS games that you can acquire hours of more gameplay value or enjoyment.

    Screw off Candy Crush! I'll stick to real gaming!
  • 1
    chris_8245 2 months ago
    There is a 4th option to gain lives just set your phone ahead 3 hours and you get full lives. You can ask your friends for tickets to pass to next level I have got to level 350 doing this. I have only spent 99 cents on candy crush to buy power ups. Also if you play dream world there is no railroad to cross and I made it to level 120 I'm dream world.
  • 1
    Gww 3 months ago
    The game lies. 1. Said today buy boppers and get unlimited lives for 24 hours. Got ZERO unlimited lives. 2. You spin the dial to win extra power things. ONLY THE FISH WOULD HELP YOU WIN LEVEL 500. I have SUPPOSEDLY WON 4 SETS ON THE WHEEL. But the game WONT MAKE THEM AVAILABLE TO USE ON LEVEL 500. IT ONLY LETS YOU USE POWER UPS THAT HAVE NO OR LITTLE EFFECT
  • 1
    Ron Zhang 3 months ago
    Yours is out of date. Now all the levels are free. Level 35+ is not costing anything.
    I sense that you are a disgusting teenage thug instead of a nice formal gentleman. Gentlemen never use "bull****" or "crap (as in the poo)". Treat yourself into less hostile but strong words.
  • 1
    Ron Zhang 3 months ago
    Candy Crush is not everything that represents everything that's wrong with mobile gaming. There is also the fact about suicide or homicide causes from games. You forgot that and no one ever did kill themselves or others from Candy Crush. Tut Tut.

    Examples included Flappy Bird, which caused the game to be taken off the app store.
    Last edited 3 months ago
  • 1
    Ron Zhang 3 months ago
    Never ever use swear words to try to convince readers. It is immature. You should be ashamed of yourself! Tut Tut.

    The use of swear words only makes your attention worse. People will start saying that you are a vulgar and disgusting guy sitting on the couch with cigarettes and gang clothes.
    Last edited 3 months ago
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    Ron Zhang 3 months ago
    Say no use of "bull****". Say "Those rip-your-wallet power-ups you have to use". And other sensors
    Last edited 3 months ago
  • 1
    Ron Zhang 3 months ago
    Yours is out of date. Now, you can play all levels without pay. Other than that, true.
  • 1
    cb_4793 3 months ago
    Candy crush and farm hero are bolth very fun but I do think they get way to hard .I haven't had to oay a penny and having to wate for more lives is a good thing or I would be at it all day it's a good time to tak a brake
    Last edited 3 months ago
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    cb_4793 3 months ago
    This game is bull shit it's targeted to get you hooked then to pay to get through levels or you are stuck for months. I hate this game farm hero is the same it starts out fun and you get through the levels pritty fast but once they hook you it's time to pay or stay
  • 1
    Russ_1666 3 months ago
    Like slot machines in casinos there is no luck or skill involved here. You level up when King decides it wants to let you. To pay money to have them bless you with a win is nothing short oh the electronic slot machines that are preset to allow a certain amount of winning. If your in the seat when the machine is told to pay; you end up a winner. I think the same applies here. This money sucking game should be regulated like casino gaming. No age limits, no capacity guidelines, nothing there to keep them from sucking you in as much as they can.
  • 1
    No more candy crush 3 months ago
    Great job candy makers another frustrated player no longer plays cause you make things too hard I guess you guys aren't very good at keeping people interested just like you stock great job NOT.
  • 1
    Mary_1756 4 months ago
    I think game is annoying and I would never paya penny. I'm thinking of deleting this game again . I did this before on 23 now on 35 I can' t move to 36. I' m a impatient. By this weekend I will delete if I don't move to 36
  • 1
    Kristie_1019 4 months ago
    I have gotten to the point where I hate this game. It used to be fun but you always end up with one jelly left (over & over). With Odus there is one game that requires 160,000 points in 30 moves and 3 times I got 159,999 points. What a bunch of crap. "You can win with another couple moves for only .99 cents". I hate this money grubbing game.
  • 1
    mickey_8112 5 months ago
    After playing 530 levels, I could say this is like an slot machine where you can try more than a hundred times spending only your time, not money.
    But, as an experienced player (levels 350 and 500 were the worst) I have realized that King's guys have become nastier, creating the f**king owl levels. In the owl madness (an unlucky move and the owl falls) the first level more difficult than any of the normal levels is 125.
    It's like a difficult level of the others, but with the owl falling it is really impossible, for me.
    Even using powerups is useless.

    Then King's guys have realized this and have created a new powerup of 3 moonstrucks (fisrt 3 are free).
    I spent 2 passing 125 after looking for a good start. But now, in 147 the remaining powerup (and others) is not enough. Only at level 147!!!

    This company, to be polite and not call them nastier things, probably is getting less cash, and this is their new strategy: completely impossible levels to be forced to buy many powerups (one alone is useless). They give you 15 moves minus than the strictly necessary being very lucky to pass the level. And the owl falls again and again.

    I've already quit with the owl. Don't even try it. The normal levels can be passed quitting the game until you get a good board.
  • 1
    Chris Bloubum 5 months ago
    I only tried this game cause FB friends kept inviting me. I agree with all. At level 15 it already got a little difficult and kept trying to pown me moves or tools. Then I realized how if I solicit their game to my FB friends I get some shit for free. Anybody who tries to solicit to me I will defriend. Drop dead game makers and u whore players.
  • 1
    Chris _3737 5 months ago
    I am on level 273 in Reality and 104 in Dream World and have not spent a single cent on anything. I play on the computer and on my phone (Android). You do not need to spend money.

    You never run out of lives on mobile because bumping your time on your phone up 3 hours gives you 5 more lives. Reset your time to normal ... play and repeat.
  • 1
    andee_6245 6 months ago
    Whats up w powers up they have all the options but u only evert three. This is a.joke. if u pay for power ups u get more options. Joke. Better things to do with my time. All hype or for beginners
  • 1
    Weldon_5177 6 months ago
    I've enjoyed Candy Crush and I enjoyed reading your post but I think you've got your information wrong. I'm on level 420 and my money is in my pocket where it will stay. You don't need to pay to get to higher levels! You can ask friends or be patient and play the Mystery Quests that open the levels up without asking friends or paying one red cent. Candy Crush tests your level of intellect and your ability to recognize patterns. It also tests your problem solving skills. If you are in the lower levels of the game, maybe it's not the game, maybe it's you. Check yourself before you wreck yourself! And remember, patience grasshopper, you'll get there eventually! Peace!
  • 1
    Hemanray 6 months ago
    I guess if you can't solve the problems after 100 or so tries - just give it up - they don't want you playing and continuing. Make a game fun to play - let us have the opportunity to solve the level.
    I've had it with their crap
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