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.


  • 9
    SupportGuy 1 year ago
    Featured Contributor
    Sounds like pretty much every Zynga game I've ever heard of.
  • 3
    Juicy Jane 1 year ago
    not only zinga seen this new game from popcap/ea Plants vs. Zombies Adventures fuck that man.... unlocks my ass
  • 9
    GS_Mike 1 year ago
    I've really enjoyed Candy Crush Saga. It is challenging and despite the obvious cash grab, I've yet to spend a penny playing the game, and I'm on level 65! I've been tempted to pay the $1 for an extra 5 moves from time to time, but decided to just walk away and come back.

    The thing about Candy Crush Saga is that I've played it for (and this is just a guess) around 5 hours and paid nothing. This is more time invested for free than the vast majority of games I have purchased on Steam for $60.
    Last edited 1 year ago
  • 1
    megafilipe 1 year ago
    It's terrible, later on you the levels gets almost impossible, you have to pay to pass the level, or try the level 50 times until you get lucky and pass it
  • 1
    JohnnyCash_8174 1 year ago
    Candy Crush Saga is one of the most popular games and the social integration is brilliant.

    Why are people in this world so cheap? How you can whine over a few bucks after they have invested a large amount into paying developers, servers, etc to make this happen.

    You can enjoy this game without having to pay up.

    Nothing in this world is free, mobile gamers have too many expectations for free things just because it's an app.
  • 2
    Ronni1959 1 year ago
    They advertise it for free! Get it? State up front its not FREE & people who want to pay to play will do so. Not pick-pocket! Get it?
  • 1
    jay.weis 1 year ago
    @ JohnnyCash_8174

    I don't normally register to comment on shit like this but your comment is infuriating.

    If you think $82 for this scam of a game is worth more than a $60 AAA game you must be trolling or one of the developers. Either way you make gaming look bad. I would ask you what makes the social integration brilliant but I would rather not lose any more IQ points than the ones your last comment made me lose today.
  • 1
    dave_2233 1 year ago
    I don't mean this in a 'braggy' way, but me and a couple of friends have completed the game, and have not spent a single penny.

    Yes, it gets hard - very hard! To the point I have wanted to throw my laptop/phone/ipad at a wall. But isn't that half the fun? It would be dull if it was easy?

    Also, surely a lot of the FB integration is because the game was already out on FB, where you could buy the same things? Therefore, if you had already bought it FB it was also available on your phone? Hardly trying to scam MORE money out of you, is it?

    Why should games be free, they give you 35 levels free as you say. What are they? A fucking charity? No, of course not. They are a company, just like every other game developer, and just like every other company, they have employees to pay, offices to pay for and countless other over heads to pay for.

    So yeah, nice rant - but really you miss by a long shot.

    I'd get used to the 'freemium' model, it is undoubtedly the way gaming is heading. Whether you like it or not.
  • 2
    Ronni1959 1 year ago
    nice try trollhead! Like i said to the other DA, if ppl want to pay to play say it up front! Don't flood y TV with false advertisements selling it for FREE. Obviously, they've made a ton off of ppl who thought they were gonna play for free how else would they be one of the very few who have bucks for massive TV saturation! GFUS
  • 1
    Addicted39 1 year ago
    Ok so i think i have spent over a hundred pounds buying extra Life... I dont have a hobby so i wasnt feeling It.... Even tho i ko how to get lives without asking Fb frenz r waiting that 30 mins... When u have one bubble to go n no lives u spend especially if d bubble is in a clumsy place.... N ur friends r close behind u.... Am on level 201 n am getting tired... Who ever clocked d Gáme without buying lives should work for The government. Tatically they r good...
  • 1
    jaryak 1 year ago
    Maybe you're just not very good at the game? I'm on level 73 and I've yet to spend a single penny.

    Also, your article is sort of deceptive... there is absolutely no obligation to pay anybody anything to get beyond level 35.
    Last edited 1 year ago
  • 1
    Viv78 1 year ago
    I'm actually playing this game right now and the author isn't wrong. 1. You do have to play if you run out of lives. Instead of playing I wait but I'm sure others have paid ESP if they're addicted to it. 2. You will definitely have to pay after level 35, if you didn't pay and was able to keep playing then you connected to fb and advertised to your friends for them. How do I know this? Because I'm stuck either I pay- now I know will give me about 24 more levels or I do some free marketing for them. I'm not cheap and I'm willing to spend money on a game. But I don't like to continuously pay for a game which apparently is what candy crush does. Question: do you have to pay .99 every time you get to the end of the stage? From the map there looks to be 15 stages.
  • 1
    katie_5825 1 year ago
    I'm on level 226 and i have never payed a dime. I have a friend that has beat the game without ever paying. So it is possible and if you've ever played on the computer you would know that when you unlock a booster they give you 3 of them for free. I agree they do try to get you to pay a lot but its up to you if you want to buy things or not if you are good enough at the game you wont need to pay any money.
  • 1
    Leslie_3661 1 year ago
    I totally agree with Kevin, it's a rip off.I'm really disappointed, and will never play another game by them
  • 2
    Ronni1959 1 year ago
    AMEN!! I'm done with deceptiveness! Be up front about the cost or be a scammer not a gammer! DONE!
  • 1
    Harry_2083 1 year ago
    I totally agree. They even set it up so that once you press the BUY button (for moves, lives, boosters or whatever) then that's it, there is no "confirm" button like with most reputable companies. So you pay for accidental purchases as well.
  • 1
    Adam_6668 1 year ago
    This is nothing new. If you have a bank account and credit card, then it's that persons responsibility to use it responsibly. I play flash games almost every day for the past 10 years and I've never had the desire to spend any amount of money on bonus' and extra features. If that's how people want to spend their money then leave em to it I say
  • 1
    Mark_1933 1 year ago
    I'm at level 102 and never had paid anything. Not sure where the level 35 bit comes from. However, I'm fed up with it. The farther you go, the harder it gets. You have the option to pay - and they count on your frustration for this.
  • 2
    Ronni1959 1 year ago
    obviously, you've found a way to cheat! Or who did u say pays ur bills? Lol unbelievable!
  • 1
    tom_9221 1 year ago
    Great article. I actually just finished level 34, googled about the bullshit 35 level limit, and ended up here. I couldnt have put it better myself. I never leave posts on this sort of site either, but I'm compelled to share how horrible this pay for crap gaming is...oh well...uninstall and move on to the next one, ha!
  • 1
    tom_9221 1 year ago
    Oh, I play on an Android device and definitely have to pay at 35, not sure about any other platforms. Fuck it, im addicted and will pay. My girlfriend iant far behindd me on ios, I suppose she has to pay too after 35?
  • 1
    manman_7171 1 year ago
    I agree with this article. And yes nothing is free. But sometimes I hesitate paying 60 bucks for a AAA title with sooooo much more priduction value than this "mini" game. So for them to be able to profit as much as they are is both evil, and genious.
  • 1
    Loreen_1169 1 year ago
    I'm on level 60 on my phone - I certainly didn't pay for anything. Maybe because it's linked to my FB account the higher levels were free. I sort of look at these "pay to play right now" games as a challenge. I know they want my money - but I'm not going to give it to them. I see getting through to the next level as not only a win for me in beating the level - but as a win for me for getting through to the next level and NOT paying for it!!
  • 1
    fuktwats 1 year ago
    I NEVER POST...EVER. I will say this...I downloaded this game onto my girlfriends kindle because she wanted to play it. Well I gave it a test game, but the PAY to PLAY concept is blatantly in your face. I passed level I need 3 muthafuqing tickets...either panhandle my FB friends or BUY them. Sheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeit....neither, unintsall.
  • 1
    alex_2702 1 year ago
    Anyone else realize this game is a rip off of Doctor robotnic's mean bean machine game????? (not aware of any games prior to this one that had it?

    gah.. frustrates me how people make games now days.
  • 2
    Ronni1959 1 year ago
    seems they just let any scheamer in as long as their trickster level is high on the rhector scale!!! REMOVING IT, ontothe next!
  • 1
    Cris_1115 1 year ago
    I'm on level 141 and haven't had to pay because plenty of my fb friends play so I ask them for lives or tickets. You're not asking anyone who isn't playing because the game allows you to see who is playing. They've never been bothered by it so its no big deal. Besides, even if you do pay, it's no different than paying for a gaming system like Xbox and having to purchase the games. It's a business and they market and try to make a profit just like every other company.
  • 2
    Ronni1959 1 year ago
    umm, they do massive TV advertsement in my area! And either you are a cheater or you are getting a check to post here. If they don't ask ppl to pay up front thats equal to scamming not gamming! Get a dictionary & figure out how reputable business operates! How bout that?
  • 1
    Andy_7097 1 year ago
    Sorry man, but I wholeheartedly disagree with your article. First off, it's not that hard to get far. Sure, some levels are frustrating, but a lot of them are pretty easy once you know what kind of strategy you're going for. I'm at level 160 after about a month of playing on facebook and still haven't even been temped to spend a dime. Actually, I still haven't even used any of the free power-ups they give you for free. And I don't know if they've changed things since you wrote this, but all the levels seem to be free. None of my friends that play have ever paid to unlock new levels. To unlock new levels all I have to do is have 3 friends respond to a facebook request, which is pretty easy considering how many damn people play this game.

    Secondly, I don't see a problem in charging people for a game like this. It's a genuinely entertaining time waster and if people want to spend money to get farther faster, why the hell not? The game developers and publishers need to make money somehow. Why not do it on a voluntary basis instead of just charging a smaller fee to everyone to play?
  • 2
    Ronni1959 1 year ago
    another troll, scammer or cheater! Ever own your own business? Find out how reputable ppl operate!
  • 1
    Tammie_3596 1 year ago
    Things that burn fast go out of mind soon enough. . Think it's a test of human common sense. We've the power in our hands to shut it down. Hint.
    Last edited 1 year ago
  • 2
    Ronni1959 1 year ago
  • 1
    Wanda_5691 1 year ago
    I agree, Kevin. Free games should be just that . . . free. I don't mind making "power-ups" optional, but to max the levels out unless you pay is just downright extortion. I deleted it from my Galaxy. You guys can have it.
  • 1
    ezhil 1 year ago
    WTF??!! i think you dont know how to play candy crash instead of accepting it you are thrashing CCS I am in level 110 and i havent paid a penny. Yes i accept level 35 and 65 are very tough and it took me a week to complete that.
  • 1
    chris_8419 1 year ago
    Im on level 201 and wife is on level 301 and we havent spent a penny.
  • load more comments  

People are talking