Is Candy Crush Cheating? Will it matter?

We heard an unsubstantiated rumor this week about how King.com maximizes revenue for Candy Crush Sage. It’s juicy enough to be a great idea for monetization but we’re not sure how we feel as gamers.

Our source – who is not a King.com employee – claimed that the Random Number Generator (RNG) that determines how candies are distributed within Candy Crush Saga is non-random and is, in fact, rigged to promote better monetization. This either leave the player “just shy” of completing a level, or makes it harder to win when you’re running low on energy.

How does this work? Our source didn’t know, but if we were designing the game, we’d think about one of two strategies:

  1. Re-use the seeds of levels that led to monetization. The seed for a RNG determines how candy will be distributed on the board. By choosing seeds that had preceded monetization in the past, you’d be likely to find levels that left the player with no energy, but only one more move to complete the level. This would juice monetization significantly.
  2. Re-use seeds of levels that are impossible to complete, draining players of energy. This is a similar strategy, but this technique ensures that players will run out of energy faster. It’s unclear whether this would be more or less effective than strategy #1, but easy enough to test.

This wouldn’t be unheard of. Many RNGs are rigged, sometimes in favor of the player. Tetris, for example, uses a semi-random process to ensure the distribution of pieces is more even than chance would allow. Many in-game coin flips are actually rigged in favor of the player, because people complained too loudly about the “bugs” that must exist because the coin would never land on heads 10 time in a row. Slots are similarly programmed to dish out small wins at a frequency that encourages long-time play.

Freemium games are a new animal, with lots of experimentation happening. While we’re not lawyers, this appears a totally legal approach to game design. So if it’s true that this is part of the Candy Crush monetization magic, we expect we’ll see the tactic spread. ┬áThe real question will be whether gamers revolt.