No wonder companies like SEGA are pledging to focus more on the mobile market.
In an analysis report by The Guardian, it has been revealed that Candy Crush Saga players spent over $1.3 billion in 2014 alone. A few of the in-app items you can buy in the confectionary puzzle game include extra moves, color bombs, lollipop hammers and extra lives.
In an ingenious or twisted move depending on your perception, lives are necessary to play Candy Crush Saga. Like most popular mobile games, Candy Crush Saga is designed to force players to purchase additional lives when they run out. In other words, when all lives are lost they cannot play anymore. The other option is to goad friends on Facebook for more lives or wait for lives to replenish after half an hour. A similar method is used for unlocking new levels, or “episodes”; either buy the episodes or enlist three Facebook buddies to send you “tickets” to unlock the levels.
This design philosophy has proven to be extremely lucrative. Candy Crush Saga is the third-highest grossing app in the United States, where it commands a cult-like following dedicated to its addictive gameplay. Candy Crush Saga was at its most successful when it made $551 million in the third quarter of 2013. Its sequel, Candy Crush Soda Saga, trails close behind as the sixth-highest grossing app.
For developer King Digital, Candy Crush Saga alone is responsible for 45% of its sales in the final quarter of 2014. However, that’s down from 85% a year ago. King Digital has been working to add other games to its portfolio so it relies less on Candy Crush Saga and its likely-to-be-limited success.
The mobile games business, as recently parodied by Comedy Central cartoon South Park, can be a tricky. Games playable on tablets and smartphones can become multi-million-dollar successes overnight, but with little-to-no brand loyalty from players development studios often find themselves struggling to keep afloat. The games can be unpredictable, too. Remember last year’s Flappy Bird? That game, already a sensation, caused an even bigger stir when creator Dong Nguyen, unable to handle the pressure of his newfound fame, removed it from all app stores. His following title Swing Copters failed to earn similar luster.