While sad to recount, you have to hand it to King: it's a brilliantly effective freemium design. And that's because that Candy Crush Soda Saga is an impeccably designed mobile game: it looks slick, puts a smart spin on match-three puzzling, and the mix of limited lives with challenging stages somehow gives it incredible appeal. I wanted to play constantly, and I needed to push further and further. And that's exactly how I spent several times more money than I would've paid for any premium puzzle game.
I'm left feeling a little disappointed--in myself for playing into the trap, but also in Candy Crush Soda Saga for not living up to its full potential. With more of a focus on simplifying and polishing the game design with an eye for fair, challenging levels, it could've been one of the best puzzlers on the App Store. Instead, it's unfocused and inconsistent, with so many different play elements butting heads and too much left to chance.
And still I want to play. But a dozen or more hours and twice as many dollars later, I know now that spending big isn't going to bring me any more satisfaction than waiting or playing something else instead. Or at least, I hope I know that.
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