Playing Candy Crush Saga is a lot like opening a jar of Nutella; it’s fun, addictive and completely throws your priorities out of the proverbial “whack.” And as creator Midasplayer International Holding Co. (otherwise known as King) cues up JP Morgan, Chase, Credit Suisse and Bank of America for an initial public offering, we must ask ourselves: why am I throwing my life away on this?
For anyone who has played Bejewled or the drastically deeper (read: super-special-awesome) Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords, the sense of déjà vu is uncanny. Built on the age-old premise of moving blocks to align three or more of the same kind, this monstrous perversion of Tic Tac Toe has been consuming free time everywhere the standards of personal achievement are low enough to be satiated by, “I lined ‘em up and they disappeared!”
(Yes, the man who spends his Friday nights watching reruns of Yu-Gi-Oh! and leveling up his character in Skyrim is acting all “holier-than-thou” over a casual video game).
Of course, despite the rants of faux-gamers on the annals of the internet, remember that simplicity is not a negative. Every “true” gamer knows and respects the legacy of games like Tetris, Pac-Man, and Pong, all of which have at least the complexity and narrative depth of HBO’s Girls. Still, despite offering a story mode, social media integration and cross-platform syncing, Candy Crush Saga may still perhaps be too simple a game to use as the basis for a company’s expansion.
After all, King’s sudden rise in popularity because of their supremacy on the Facebook leader boards has drawn comparisons with Zynga, whose awe-inspiring success with Farmville quickly turned cringe-worthy; such is the law of diminishing returns on social media.
And just because a game is successful when made available for free does not mean it will be entirely marketable when expanded into a paid product. I mean, no one would pay $40 for Angry Birds. Right? Wait, what happened to the law of diminishing returns?
Either way, regardless of their future as a company, King has made a simple and fun game. However, for those of us that have playing since the days of floppy drives, Candy Crush is a sad reminder of a forgotten time: when even cute games were tough. Classics such as Twinkle Star Sprites welcomed us with happy colors and then laughed at our feeble attempts to survive, mixing the many hues of the rainbow with our blood and tears.
Modern hardcore gaming, unfortunately, almost always takes place in either a war zone, a post-apocalyptic nightmare or a jungle full of “savages” (oh, you thought we were past always depicting the “ethnics” as barbaric animals? LOL, silly progressive; LOL, indeed!)
So today, the definition of cute is Nintendogs. Yeah, Nintendogs.
I wish both King and Candy Crush Saga well. As they continue to rise, they should keep in mind that, before expanding their business, they should expand the game itself. Angry Birds, even though it employed an equally dated gaming formula, kept expanding the game and now, you can buy an Angry Bird plush — the definition of success for any franchise.
However, if King decides to expand its franchise into proper gaming, they should remember that gamers have been playing things like this for years. And, in hardcore gaming, the same exact game does not keep succeeding again and again.
Damn. Never mind.