Candy Crush – The Puzzle Game Phenomenon

This blog aims to divulge key insights on Candy Crush that includes secret ingredients, success factors and demography insights with interesting facts. Later it unveils the role of Software Testing Services/QA in puzzle games.

A Brief Intro

It all started back in 2012 when ‘King Digital Entertainment ‘ a game development company released their freemium match-three puzzle game, a game which to this day is still played by millions around the world. ‘Candy Crush’ was originally launched only on Web Facebook platform but it wasn’t until when it was developed for Mobile platforms that it gained immense popularity by both Core as well as casual gamers.

Why Candy Crush so popular?

The game is so popular it had reached the No.1 spot on Apple’s Appstore, Google’s Play store and Facebook at the same time. (Source:

  1. The Gameplay – At its core is a very simple game wherein a player has match 3 or more color candies by swapping them around to earn points and progress. It can also be played with one hand which would appeal to most casual gamers.
  2. Graphics – The game has colorful and neatly designed graphics which are pleasing to the eye. Various different animations and voice overs are present for high combo scores.
  3. Variety – If the game just was just about matching 3 puzzles, users would have gotten bored of it pretty soon but each and every level of the game is unique and has different goals to achieve to keep the player interested.
  4. Freemium Model – This has to be one of the main reasons why users play this game to this day even when it was launched back in 2012. ‘Freemium’ basically means the game is free to play but if required in-app purchases can be made. The game is also completely ad-free which is what usually a casual gamer wants.
  5. Social Aspect – The game was first launched for Facebook and later was branched out to mobile platforms. These days social networking in games is very important to players and the game has nicely implemented ways to send gifts, lives etc. through Facebook and most importantly friend’s scores and progress.

Interesting Facts

  • The game rakes in a whopping $850,000 per day and currently one of the highest grossing games.
  • Active monthly Facebook users are 132.9 Million and ‘King’s Digital’ the game’s developer is now Facebook’s top game maker.
  • The game is played on all 7 continents even in Antarctica.
  • According to AppData, the game is played more than 600 million times per day.
  • It has been downloaded to over 500 million mobile devices.

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Demographics and Statistics

As the above study suggests, a majority of ‘Candy Crush’ players are women aged between 21-35 and mostly fall into the casual gamer category. It’s important to note that the game is played by the wide range of demographic simply for the reason that Candy Crush as a game is easy to pick up and all you need is a mobile phone and some spare time.

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Here are few interesting statistics about ‘Candy Crush’ and its developer ‘Kings Digital’ (Source:

  • A recent study suggests that people who play on mobile phones spend more than the PC gamers as of 2016. The majority of the money is coming from mobile gamers who play games such as Candy Crush and Clash of Clans. “Spending on mobile games, mostly for in-game purchases, will account for 27% of the $99.6 billion global video gaming market in 2016, market tracker Newzoo reported”.
  • Core players of the game are mostly women aged 25+, they spend around $25/month which is not a lot but the revenue is made by the sheer amount of players.
  • Candy Crush is now responsible for nearly three-quarters of King’s revenue and analysts estimate that the company’s annual turnover is around £300m. Gaming giant ‘Activision Blizzard’ acquired ‘King’s Digital’ for $5.9 billion after it went public.

Will a Hardcore gamer still play this game?

This is an interesting topic and I consider myself to be a core gamer. I would probably launch this game daily more than I would launch COD or CS-GO. Here are few reasons why I think even a core gamer would still enjoy playing Candy Crush.

  • It’s a freemium game, which also means I can play the entire game without having to spend any money. Most mobile games have certain levels that are so tough that eventually, you have to pay to clear it. But in Candy Crush, if you keep playing that level long enough you will end up finishing it.
  • The game is easy to learn but not a walk in the park gameplay wise, some levels require a lot of concentration to come up with combos to achieve certain requirements of that level.
  • The graphics, music, and animations have somewhat of a calming effect on your mind and is a great stress reliever.
  • I mostly find myself playing this game during a commute or during my free time. There are no time constraints since I can play the game for 2 minutes or 2 hours and can stop at any time.
  • The game as of now is completely ad-free which is one of the reasons why I still play it. A constant bombardment of ads which is present in most freemium games will deter many players.
  • The game never really gets repetitive since there are lots of add-on and mini-games within a game to keep ourselves occupied in case we get bored with the main game.
  • As of now, Candy Crush shows no signs of slowing down even though its players have reduced compared to a couple of years ago and also not many new players are coming in. But its core players such as myself and millions around the will keep playing it whether it is to kill time or beat a friend’s score or just to level up as long the game exists.

What are the things that are figured out during the game testing?

When you have a game that’s great — which is not broken, and yet trying to fix it — it’s never an easy job to keep what’s great and still bring something fresh. Trying to find a new gameplay that is different enough that it feels like a sister game, to be played side by side, and yet know where it is started from.

If you’ve played Candy Crush it should be easy to get into. At the same time, it shouldn’t be for Candy Crush experts. Even a new player should be able to understand this new game.

Testing Candy Crush belongs to the group of complex mathematics.

  • Candy Crush Saga includes exchange candies to make rows of three
  • Study required to test whether this game was what’s called NP-hard
  • NP is a problem that is difficult to check, or can only be solved with a PC
  • To test this theory, a researcher constructed a theoretical board of candies
  • They then tried to establish a generic formula for solving each puzzle
  • This involved trying to prove whether a certain score could be achieved with a set number of swaps
  • It wasn’t easy to solve, meaning the game was classified as NP-complete

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Roles and Responsibilities of the QA Team while testing games like Candy Crush

  • Perform Exploratory Testing (E.T.) on user stories and report
  • Carry out session based testing
  • Provide Agile Testing plan
  • Simulate time and game engine to replay each game state
  • Provide quality assistance in performing crash testing, performance and regression testing
  • Perform fun level and game balancing act

Happy Gaming !!!!

Author: Vijay Aditya
Vijay is a Data analyst, loves to solve complex problems and challenges. Hobbies are watching anime and playing football.