NativeX Voices: This blog post is part of the NativeX Voices series, a set of blog posts that present the gaming experiences of NativeX employees from the perspective of a gamer.
A coworker asked me the other day to render verdict on Kim Kardashian’s new app, and I was aghast. Really, dude? Seriously? I’ve got bigger fish to fry than Kim Kardashian: I STILL can’t beat Candy Crush.
I began playing last summer and have been stuck on level 89 since December. I spent several long weeks and over 100 hours trying to beat level 89. Several friends and two aunts have played for me, each promising to defeat the level but each party sucummbed to defeat.
Candy Crush is my doomed relationship. It was fun enough to begin with, but eventually became too complex. And while I’m not ready to break up with the game (i.e. delete it from my iPhone), I haven’t played in months because I can’t get myself to spend any MORE money and the daily wheel isn’t enough to help me advance.
Is anyone else still playing Candy Crush Saga?
It’s the app that marked my questionable exodus into the world of mobile gaming, born of my lame desire to be “hip.” Alas, the woeful plight of uncool people everywhere is that we adorn what is “hip” only after it’s become hopelessly dépassé.
Those signs were everywhere last summer. My elderly aunts were already playing the game. While perhaps inept at more basic social media niceties (like how and when to send a private message versus posting a public status update), they barraged my iPhone with skill. I received endless request alerts for jellyfish and color bombs.
Down the street, my local thrift store was amassing a large stockpile of spurned Candy Crush T-shirts and also carrying forlorn boxes of pink and white striped candies.
Yet undeterred, I began playing quite eagerly. By level 7, my dog Kermit began running away to moan and howl every time he heard the game’s sweetly syrupy theme song. By level 29, I was sending friend requests purely to receive more Candy Crush benefactors. (Retribution came swift for any unreciprocated largesse, mainly in the form of defriendings and direct one-on-one appeals.)
And by level 44, I was fighting almost nightly with my partner Tobias regarding the game. He believed it was a waste of time and my non-stop playing was a sign of “mental illness.” It’s my job, I insisted, I have to play these freemium games. I work for a mobile ad monetization company.
By level 59, even I hated the game. Yet I still played on. During my bus commute to work, I rearranged rows of candy tiles neatly in the back of my head. I played whilst waiting for tables at the restaurant, on phone calls, or awaiting a vacant ladies’ room stall.
Candy Crush Saga scared my dog, provoked my partner, and stole my down-time serenity. It exasperated Facebook friends, irked by my “spam” requests for aid. Yet astonishingly, none of these things induced me to cease gameplay. To the peril of my “real life” health and relationships, I continued onward until the game defeated me. I could not beat level 89 after more than 300 attempts, including a half dozen tries from other family who had previously beaten the round quite handily.
I was stuck at level 89.
At first, I found other ways to play the game. I would replay all the previous levels I had beaten, until I achieved a 3-star score. Even after clearing every level with highest possible marks, I still could not defeat level 89.
I knew very well what Candy Crush wanted from me in order to advance: MORE MONEY. I had already spent too much in the past and the developer wanted to convert me back into the “Whale” I once was; a player who is more than willing to spend money on boosters needed to continue gameplay.
Since I’m no longer willing to spend money on virtual goods, Candy Crush and I are at an impasse in our relationship. The question is purely transactional: how much bliss can I achieve by defeating all 1,000 levels? How I do assign a monetary value to that accomplishment? Is it an actual accomplishment? Do I win prizes or notoriety? Could I place that on a job résumé, to showcase my tenacity, smartass wit, and mental alacrity?
But that’s just it. Candy Crush has completely zapped me of all mental acuity: the ability to calmly sit and wait, focus, or otherwise peaceably exist without fidgeting or possession of electronic device.
I guess this makes me a beached whale.
So we’re stuck, Candy Crush and I. After a fourteen month time and monetary investment, I can’t bring myself to permanently end things. I can’t delete the app from my phone or make a public pronouncement of termination. Besides, what if I end up in jail or hospitalized one day and need endless hours of handheld diversion? Who else could I turn to?
Thus, I am stranded in an interminable relationship with Candy Crush. I want to keep playing; I don’t want to pay anymore. I’ve become a “Beached Whale,” a game devotee not willing to spend more money on a freemium game for an uncertain return in investment.
I can’t bring myself to end things so all I can do is hope Candy Crush will mend its ways (such as implementing ads) or be the one to break up with me (ditching iOS). Since I’m “beached,” I’d hope to see rewarded ads that could help me advance. Perhaps such an action would even boost revenue for Candy Crush and ease the concerns of King’s investors. Anything to give me extra lives or boosters so I can finally “win” my “Candy Crush Saga” and live happier ever after.