Candy Crush Saga is a match-three puzzle video game released by the developer King on April 12, 2012 for Facebook, and on November 14, 2012 as a mobile app for smartphones. As of March 2013, Candy Crush Saga surpassed FarmVille 2 as the most popular game on Facebook, with 46 million average monthly users. It is a variation on their browser game Candy Crush. In November 2013, the “Dreamworld” expansion was launched, creating a more difficult playing mode of older levels.
This game is a variation of match-three games such as Bejeweled. Each level has a game board filled with differently colored candies, and might contain obstacles. These different colors include the red jelly bean, the orange lozenge, the yellow lemon drop, green chiclets, the blue lollipop head, and the purple cluster. The basic move of this game is horizontally or vertically swapping the positions of two adjacent candies, to create sets of three (or more) candies of the same color. Each level contains a certain objective that must be completed in a given number of moves (or on a time limit); some levels require clearing “jelly” off the board by making matches on top of them, reaching a certain score, getting ingredient items to the bottom of the board, or having to clear certain amounts or combinations of candies. Levels may also contain blocks to make them more difficult, such as meringue or liquorice swirls, chocolate (which spreads across the board if left uncleared), bombs (which end the level if they are not matched before they go off), multi-layered icing blocks (with tin plates as the last layers), and others. Boosters can be earned or purchased to provide assistance during levels. In computational complexity theory, Candy Crush Saga (along with many other similar match three games) were proven to be NP-hard.
The game is primarily monetized through in-app purchases (through either a credit card, Facebook Credits, or Google Play credits); players begin with five “lives”, lost whenever a level is failed. This applies to all King games. When they are exhausted, users can either send requests to their Facebook friends for more lives, wait for them to replenish themselves (a life is restored every half-hour), or purchase them. At certain points, primarily at the start of new “episodes”, users must also either purchase, or receive a request from at least three friends before they may access the next set of levels. Boosters can also be bought using cash, Facebook credits, or Google Play.
Once all levels in an episode are completed, the next episode (starting at episode 3) is locked and the player must either get three friends on Facebook to send them “tickets” to unlock the next episode, it can be unlocked directly through the in-game store, or occasionally the game will allow the player to move on for free if the player has not been able to unlock the next area. If the game is not linked to the player’s Facebook account, a new level can be unlocked by playing a Mystery Quest, a random previous level with a higher point threshold for winning. Three Mystery Quests must be completed before the next episode is unlocked, and a player can only complete one Mystery Quest in a single 24-hour period.
Candy Crush Saga had over ten million downloads in December 2012 alone. In July 2013, it was estimated that Candy Crush Saga at the time had about 6.7 million active users and earned revenue of $633,000 per day in the US section of the iOS App Store alone. In November 2013, the game had been installed 500 million times across Facebook and iOS and Android devices. According to Business Insider, Candy Crush Saga is the most downloaded iOS app for 2013.