Home Case Study Candy Crush: Marketing Strategy with Psychological Appeal

Candy Crush: Marketing Strategy with Psychological Appeal

by Tarun Pal
Candy Crush

Games come and go, but Candy Crush is here to stay! It started in 2012 and as of June 2016, it was being played by 409 million people. The game is free to play, and guess what? 70% of players in the last level haven’t spent a single penny! Nevertheless, the game generates a whopping $405,708 every day.

So, why is Candy Crush so popular? Well, the people who created the game used really smart marketing and psychology tricks to make it highly addictive. Let’s take a look at how Candy Crush conquered all game charts in this case study!

Candy Crush Marketing & Phychology

Using smart marketing and psychology, Candy Crush became the top game on Google Play, Apple App Store and Facebook. Even though it is a simple candy-matching game with basic graphics and music, it kept people engaged.

most downloaded game in the world

The developers cleverly used psychological tricks in their marketing, causing players to become addicted to the game. This addiction not only kept users playing but also brought more money to the developers. It’s a mix of smart marketing and understanding why people continue to play games.

Free Game

Candy Crush is a free game like many other apps. You can download and play it without spending any money. You don’t have to pay to play the game, and it is designed so that people can play it for free, but with some limitations such as only a certain number of lives and moves. If you want more lives and moves, you can purchase them as in-app purchases. This free-to-play model worked well for the game’s creators because it allowed users to try it out and get involved. Once people got addicted to it, they often started spending money regularly, thereby providing a steady and sustainable income to the company.


The game is very easy to play. All you have to do is swap the candies next to each other to form three rows or columns of the same color, and they will disappear. When you complete certain tasks, you move on to the next level.

Although it is a simple game, it is not always easy. It gets harder as you progress, and since you only get a few lives, you really want to keep playing to beat the challenges.

Pay to Play More

In Candy Crush, you can buy more chances to play using real money. You start with 5 lives, and when you run out of lives, you either wait for your friends to send you extra lives or buy them with real money. The same applies to tricks for completing levels or starting new episodes.

You can ask for help from your friends on Facebook, but it takes time because your friends have to agree to help you. Therefore, many people choose to spend money to continue playing and satisfy their addiction.

Purchasing items in the game does not cost much, and on average, a player spends around $25. Even though it’s not a lot per person, many players spend a little bit and add up to a lot of money for the company.

Facebook Link

A smart move by Candy Crush Saga was to use Facebook requests. Players can either pay or ask their Facebook friends for extra lives/moves or to advance to the next part of the game. Since Facebook has over 1.5 billion users, it is a great place to connect with more people and get them interested in the game. This strategy helped Candy Crush gain many new players, especially in the beginning.

Target Audience

Anyone can play Candy Crush, no matter their age, ethnicity, religion, or where they live. People from all over the world, on every continent, enjoy the game.

Here’s a fun fact: Even though Candy Crush is played by everyone, it was originally meant for women aged 25-45.


In Candy Crush, players can check how well they are performing compared to their friends and family. This friendly competition forces many players to spend money to defeat their loved ones. Reaching high levels in Candy Crush is a big accomplishment, and people love to show off in front of their friends. This social aspect became a smart way for the game to make more money.


A big reason why Candy Crush is so popular is that it is a high quality game. It looks a bit like Bejeweled, but it has great graphics, soothing music and most importantly, it has no technical issues. The game remains on top due to not having annoying ads and giving complete control to the game developers.


Candy Crush is designed as a quick game, taking only 2-5 minutes for each turn. This has made the game not only for entertainment but also a great way to kill some time.

Number of levels

Candy Crush has over 2000 levels, and they get harder as you progress. The game is somewhat luck-like, and users may get stuck on certain levels. The more difficult the level, the more likely users are to spend money to beat it. But game creators had to balance this, making sure the levels weren’t too difficult so players wouldn’t give up.

Use of Analytics

Candy Crush used analytics to find out what keeps players playing and what makes them stop. They found that level 65 was really hard and people had to give up on it. So, they came up with this to keep the players interested and progressing in the game.

Other Marketing Strategies

Candy Crush became famous around the world not only through traditional advertising but also because of people talking about it. Word of mouth marketing, where people tell their friends about the game, played a big role. Candy Crush used influencers, cross-promotion, and even TV commercials to spread the word about the game to more people.

Psychological Strategies

Candy Crush is so popular because it cleverly uses psychology:


Unlike jewelry, which may seem more for girls, everyone loves candy.


Candy Crush has every color, making it suitable for everyone, no matter their gender.


Words like “tasty” and “sweet” are used in the game, which gives instant motivation to play more.

Fewer lives

Most players do not pay for extra moves. They get 5 lives and wait for an extra life every half hour. This limited playing time creates a desire for more, causing players to become addicted. This strategy counteracts something called “hedonic adaptation,” where people become accustomed to good things over time and find them less exciting. That’s why people stay connected to this game for a long time without getting bored.

A game of luck (just like slot machines)

People love Candy Crush because it is unpredictable, just like the slot machines in the casino. You can’t beat Candy Crush with specific skills; It’s all about luck. The arrangement of candies is completely random, and no one can predict what will happen with just a few moves. The psychology of gambling addiction can be compared to Candy Crush addiction.


Candy Crush is convenient – you can play it with one hand, does not require a constant Internet connection on the smartphone, and does not take much time to get used to lives or levels. This means you can play it anytime and anywhere. Fun Fact: People have even played Candy Crush in Antarctica!

Never Ending

Candy Crush continues. Even after players complete all the levels, the game keeps releasing new levels. This helps them retain players who might have deleted the game after completing everything.

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