Why Candy Crush Is So Addictive

Why Candy Crush Is So Addictive

If Candy Crush and other games feel like insidious
mind control devices, it’s only because they are. Anthony Carboni here for DNews and Candy Crush
is the current champ for most addictive to the human population- it’s got 93 million
daily players and is installed on half a billion people’s phones. You probably either play
it and love it, or played it, hated it, and still played it longer than you meant to.
What makes it so addictive? Let’s talk about the Skinner Box. The Skinner
Box is an experiment where some sort of animal in a small cage presses a lever and gets a
treat. Or an electric shock. Researchers can change how often a lever press results in
a treat to do all kinds of things to the animal- you could make it totally uninterested in
the lever, or you could make it so the animal obsessively presses it all the time. And neither
has to mean the animal doesn’t get shocked. Get where I’m going? Every time you win in a game, your brain gives
you a little bit of dopamine. Some good reward feelings. By keeping you winning early on
and then making it harder and harder, games trigger some addictive tendencies. It also
makes losing hurt- you want to go back to winning. Winning was awesome. Free-to-play games like candy crush require
some sort of currency like lives or energy. Lose all your energy and WHOOPS, you can’t
play for a few hours. Unless you pay to do it. This does two really nasty things to your
brain. If you don’t pay for an extra turn, you’re
playing into something called hedonic adaptation. Psychology of games wrote about an experiment-
appropriately enough, involving candy. Subjects were given a piece of chocolate to eat. Then,
half the group was told not to eat anymore chocolate for two weeks. The other half was
given two pounds of chocolate and told “Yo, enjoy this chocolate. ALL OF THIS CHOCOLATE.”
In two weeks, everyone was welcomed back and offered a piece of chocolate. The people who
abstained for two weeks loved the chocolate. The people who were gorging for two weeks,
unsurprisingly, weren’t that into it. By restricting your access to playing, Candy Crush makes
you want to play it MORE. But what if you’re the sort of person who
gorges themselves and pays for the extra turn? You’re probably experiencing gambler’s fallacy.
That’s the idea that the more you try something, the more the odds are that the outcome is
in your favor. That’s mathematically untrue. If your odds of getting into a car accident
are 1 in 10,000, it doesn’t mean after 50 car rides your odds are 1 in 9,950. They reset
every time. Pretty obvious. But our brain gets confused when it comes to games because
we believe in our talent. Our brains go particularly crazy with activity for near-misses. You got
SO CLOSE to winning last time. One more move and you would’ve had it- and you’re so in
the zone that if you pay the $0.99 to skip the waiting period you’ll win! You know you’ll
win. You probably won’t. Games use tricks like this to keep you in
your little skinner box, paying $0.99 at a time for a free game until you’ve spent way
more that you would’ve to buy an expensive one that wasn’t full of this stuff. Poor dumb
brains. There are games that use your brain’s weaknesses
for good. Jane McGonigal, the author of Reality is Broken, created a site called SuperBetter
that taps into these same behavior reinforcements and habit-forming tendencies to make a game
that actually helps people make good habits and recover from injuries. Apps like Habit
RPG turn todo lists into roleplaying games where you get experience and level up. (https://www.superbetter.com/
https://habitrpg.com) I tend to obsessively play manipulative games
like Candy Crush for a day or two and then get rid of them forever. What about you? Do
you fall for this stuff? Let us know down below and don’t forget to check out my other
show Hard Science if you dig builds and experiments. This week we’re making $20 cardboard boats
and seeing which ones will keep the most people afloat. Its at YouTube.com/hardscienceshow.


  1. I have the app and occasionally play it, normally when I don't have wifi, but I use up my five lives, go well that was nice, then forget about it for another month, I'm not addicted to that game but I am to others

  2. I play it occasionally

    I've never paid for the extra lives or boosters or anything else that a game tries to get me to buy (not just candy crush), this is because I see it as cheating and also that the game would be cheating me out of money, so I play with my 5 lives and occasional boosters given to me and plod along with the game

    These sort of games really should be stopped as some people spend a FORTUNE on them and for a "free" game to do that is just wrong

  3. Waw! I finally found someone who can see that "reset" thing!!! :3
    Oh yeah! I'm talking about "The stupid Monty Hall Problem"

  4. I used to smoke before. I was playing world of warcraft, and when I wanted to go smoke, I took my phone, played the lives I had while smoking , when I was done, I went back on WOW, playing 1 hour or so, smoking again, getting full lives or a few, and I was doing that for a long time, not spending even a penny for that game, I was even waiting the 3 days of the QUESTS when you had to change zones. I've done the quest, and waited, meanwhile, I was getting 3 stars on the leves I didn't menage to get them previously.


  5. I got to admit, when I worked for Zynga I played Farmville and that stuff for hours to be up to date with all the glitches. I really had to control myself though, because at times it stopped being for work.Luckily ever since then I am cured from stuff like this and never touched Candy Crush Saga. ๐Ÿ˜€

  6. jus 4 those of u out there that play candy crush all tha time and pay for lives, well i have a secret jus 4 tha addictive players like myself…u dnt have ta pay 4 it n e more…well that if ur phn has this particular setting…look under ur phn settings 4 date and time, see it, ok good now tap on it, do u see a box next to automatically set date?
    no, then u have a phn that u cnt change tha date (like boost mobile). well if u do uncheck it an change tha date up one day, exit out an start candy crush. u should have full lives. once u see 5 n ur life exit candy crush an go back an mark tha box beside tha automatically set date and exit one more time and start candy crush again. now u cn continue playing without paying. repeat as much as u want an note its free and dnt mess up ur phn at all…i gave bn found this for over 2 years and I'm so addictive that i play so much that i see tha candy pieces wen i close my eyes or go ta sleep…thank u 4 reading…have a good experience an play on an always free…

  7. I have only payed for a thing in a app once i got a weapon expansion pack for zombie smash so im hard core

  8. Candy crush started too piss me off after my mom forced to make a Facebook and started to take my iPod to send herself lives. I've hated candy crush ever since then. And I deleted it.

  9. anyone notice on the new updated Candy Crush Game Over screen it use to say ย 
    ย "Play On / End Game" ย now it says…
    ย "Play On / Give Up"

    although its very subtle but by it saying "Give Up" it encourages the player to spend more money on it. Wouldn't be surprised if a group of mastermind psychologist created this game.

  10. A long time ago I did fall for the evil mind controlling games of myspace and facebook. Then I learned their evil tricks and will FOREVER DESPISE THEM! I shall one day create a virus that will destroy all mind controlling programs on the PLANET! (Just after I finish this level..hehehe.)

  11. Candy Crush is bla bla bla… IS NOT SO DANGEROUS !!! If you know how to control yourself you donโ€™t get anything! So shut up.

  12. So either way; if we wait for lives or pay for lives, there's some fucking tag we receive just for even playing the game.

    Fuck you, stop labeling people ๐Ÿ˜€

  13. the only thing that has made me spend money is clash of clans on gems but I am better now and hardly ever get gems. BUT I WANT TO REALLY BADLY

  14. The problem with Free To Play games is that you can play them for free and suck, or you can pay out the ass, and actually get somewhere

  15. i am on the 85th level of the game and i love it but i never spent a single penny for any of those 'lives' , 'extra moves' or stuff like that… Paying real bucks for something virtual just doesnt make sense to meย 

  16. I on level 231 of the game and I play for free. If some level don't go well, I stop. The game is for relax, not for stress.ย  I am on and off several times, depends what I want.

  17. This video was so interesting! I, myself was a candy crush addict and this video made me delete it (I didn't spend money on the game but still). Thanks so much because now I'm not wasting my time playing some stupid game but instead I'm learning a language! Thanks again!

  18. You can just change your phone clock time to get more life and keep playing without pay any cash isn't it? Everyone know this right?

  19. It gets so annoying when I get bored of candy crush and then want to uninstall but I don't want to loose all my work so can't. Also I normally go back to playing it after a couple of weeks of not playing it so I would regret it.

  20. I am one of the lucky few who can say that I have NEVER played nor will I ever waste five minutes playing discount bejeweled uh I mean Candy Crush and im sick of my facebook friends trying to invite me. Im addicted to one video game as it is. Lets leave it at that. Just like Fetch, me and Candy crush isnt gonn happen

  21. I play candy crush and i dont think people should play it that much but i do play it but at first i did not get it

  22. I've paid money in a few free to play games, but I've never really gone over board. I only do it when I think it's worth the money, not whenever my brain wants to win more. Plus I only play the really good ones that could be worth money anyway. If I really like the game then I'll support the developers with my purchase.

  23. Whenever I download it i feel bored playing it. I feel no sense of achievement when i pass a level. Why do people want to even move on? I see no point of moving forward and having progress in a game!!! You should gain progress in real life if you really want to benefit!!

  24. Play Puyo Puyo Tetris! It looks better, more colorful, simpler, and more enjoyable than ever!

  25. Why is candy crush so addictive? I broke addictions like these all the time, all I need is to find something better to do. Why do people play pointless games like those these days? Seriously the first step for me to break an addiction, is my in satisfaction in a game. Hearthstone addiction? it swiftly got boring and the rewards were not satisfying enough to keep me from leaving the game behind, oh computer needs more space now? bye bye hearthstone its not like I needed you at all. The ways to satisfy my mind are not the same as to satisfy a human mind. Thus the traditional addiction tricks do not work on me even in the slightest.

  26. I have not played Candy Crush and I pity those who have lost their souls to it. I still and will always prefer Bejeweled. I don't play it enough to call it an addiction. I play on occasions, since I have better games to play like Trove, or Warframe or Everquest II. At least these games give you a much better option to work for your loot rather then Pay to Win, unlike Maplestory. (Don't get me wrong, the only thing left that I loved about Maplestory was it's art-style)

  27. Played Bejeweled for 8 years. It's basically the same shit but far better and older. Candy Crush is just plain stupid and fake. It's rigged and also cheats to grab tons of money from you.

    Also played Chuzzle and Zuma for years, plus Agar.io.

  28. If you cross your eyes to the point were your view becomes blurry…

    the butterfly in the background will look like a pikachu

  29. Here's a tip everybody should know don't spend your money on Candy Crush just change the date and turn it back and you'll get five lives

  30. i dont like candy crash.candy crash game is for kids and girls not for man and if a man is playing candy crash he is a half man.he is not full man

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