Candy Crush Saga is 1 year old and all grown up

The numbers are staggering. Since its launch one year ago today, mobile game Candy Crush Saga has surpassed half a billion downloads and been played 151 billion times. It’s a combination of intelligent strategy, clever design, pretty colors, and the necessity for 500 million people to be regularly distracted from their lives that has led to the booming success of the game.

The explosion of Android and Windows phones and tablets as well as the introduction of steadily more affordable mobile devices have all most likely aided the growth of those numbers.  But why does Candy Crush Saga achieve so much, when it seems so similar to any other time-consuming, commute-numbing, brain-dulling game?

Tommy Palm, head developer at King where the game was produced, offered some insight to Time on why Candy Crush Saga has become such a phenomenon.  Among other things, he cites our unanimous affinity for candy, color, and interesting shapes. Yes, even tablet-toting adults appreciate the simpler things.

Additionally, constantly updated content keeps users engaged and addicted.  After starting with just 1 level last year, the game has ballooned to 544 levels today.  When users know they can keep on playing, potentially forever, there’s no impetus to put it down.  You always have a goal keeping you glued to the game.  Meanwhile, mobile devices with extended battery life from energy-efficient processors like the Qualcomm Snapdragon keep our gadgets in our hands longer and later than ever, fanning the flames of our gaming addictions.

Palm also cites social integration as a success factor. 1 in 23 Facebook users is a fan of the Candy Crush page, with many actively, shamelessly posting their accomplishments to the feed.

Although the game is free to download, it offers endless in-game upgrades and perks that require payment.  Heavily addicted Candy Crush-ers are reportedly forking over plenty for those perks.  According to CNN Money, the company is pulling in millions each week, and preparing for a stock market listing with a reported valuation of $5 billion.

But one sweet, addictive game doesn’t necessarily make up an enterprise.  King has 150 games padding their portfolio, and no others have received anywhere near the level of recognition of Candy Crush.  They’ll have to come up with some much more tantalizing options if they want to keep this success rolling – because even Tommy Palm admits that “all games have a natural lifespan.” The Candy Crush Saga sugar rush will subside someday, and users may very well find their next fix elsewhere.

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