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If King fixes Candy Crush Saga to make you pay more based on your behaviour, they are going to prison.

By on February 19, 2014
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Much has been made, particularly amongst F2P haters, of the allegation that King must fix the algorithms in Candy Crush Saga to punish persistent players, or to make it harder for people once they have shown the propensity to pay. Ramin Shokrizade is particularly vituperative in his allegations that King fixes its games by changing them from “skill” games to “money” games once someone has shown that they are prepared to pay.

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Tommy Palm, the “games guru” at King, has denied this at conferences, saying that Candy Crush Saga is random throughout, with difficulty adjusted through the game at equal rate for all players, not based on the specific behaviour of individual gamers.

Haters responded, “well he would say that, wouldn’t he?”

Now we have a definitive answer. On page 93 of its F-1 filing for a potential IPO, King had this to say about difficulty spiking:

Pricing transparency and consistency. We keep the rules of the game economy identical throughout the game: the progression funnel is not narrowed through artificial blockers to force excessive social outreach or pay for progress. We believe this facilitates retention and game longevity.

Of course we can now start arguing over the definition of “artificial blockers”. But the key point is that this is made in a registration statement with the SEC, the US securities authority. Lying to them is a seriously bad idea. It is potentially a criminal offence. It carries monetary fines and the risk of direct litigation from angry shareholders. Every line in the registration is checked by lawyers who are very keen to ensure that this never happens.

So I think we can now safely say that the conspiracy theories about the evil ways King manipulates the difficulty algorithm based on your propensity to pay are just that: theories.

And now they’ve been debunked.

About Nicholas Lovell

Nicholas is the founder of Gamesbrief, a blog dedicated to the business of games. It aims to be informative, authoritative and above all helpful to developers grappling with business strategy. He is the author of a growing list of books about making money in the games industry and other digital media, including How to Publish a Game and Design Rules for Free-to-Play Games, and Penguin-published title The Curve: thecurveonline.com
  • Dmitriy M

    The statement in question does not suggest the conclusion which is being discussed here. It onyl means that there are no such level which are _absolutely_ impossible to complete without inapp or “excessive social outreach”. Lowering the drop of certain color is not such a “blocker”

  • Elle Smith

    Honestly, this is so beyond true. It’s not a coincidence that I make it down to my final move, nearly beating the level, if only I had just one more move. This happens quite frequently. Way too frequently for it to be coincidence.

  • samtha25

    To play Candy Crush Sage for any length of time is to know that you don’t play the game, it plays you. It’s obvious that the game is not random, but – let me not say “rigged” – designed to encourage the player to spend money to advance. The SEC statement is so lawyered up as to be incomprehensible, which is no doubt its intention.

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  • Ex Nihilo

    Nicolas, your blog is pure gold to me, thank you very much!
    (and already bought your book)

  • HMR_in_SV

    I would suggest, waiting until the IPO is complete, and then decompile to check the assumptions. If it turns out, which I strongly doubt will be the case, that their filing statement is a lie, then this will be the basis for a shareholder lawsuit. So, get in on the ground floor if you believe the conspiracy theory. Or, as they say, “Put your money where your mouth is.”

    BTW, not all conspiracies are unsubstantiated. That is what great investigative reporting is all about.

  • You mean because corporations never lie in their legal submissions.
    I’d like to see source from a decompile personally before debunking.

  • Hon Idrial

    Take the ipa, decompile it, analyze the source code and there you have the real behavior of the game, regardless what people inside or outside King might state.

  • Tim

    I don’t think this really addresses the issue. The key question is whether King’s random number generator distributes candies with the same distribution to all players. I think this statement re: game economy is avoids that issue altogether

  • Daniel Mesonero Kromand

    I’m pretty sure reality has never been in the way of a good conspiracy theory…