Why Can’t We Get Enough of Never-Ending Games?
Not too long after its release, Candy Crush Saga had 93 million active players who collectively played the game more than 1 billion times a day, according to a Guardian.com report. Despite it being free to download, and although 70% of skilled gamers have attained the feat of getting to the last level without having spent a penny, games developer King earned $1.33 billion from Candy Crush in that period alone. This was driven by players purchasing virtual items such as extra lives to stay in the game.
It seems that it was Zynga’s Farmville that paved the way for this mega ‘freemium’ game, with these games now accounting for 90% of all mobile games spending. Farmville, it seems, nailed the formula for a must-play mainstream game that attracted more than 30 million active players a day at its height in 2010.
It would be foolhardy to attribute the success of these continuous games to the lure they may hold for young gamers. Cnn.com reports that the average gamer is between 37 and 41 years old. Typically, Candy Crush was and is played by a broad gender spectrum regardless of age, profession and gaming experience. King has hit on the profitable application, designing mobile and tablet games – ones that contain the element of any good game-without-end: an accessible, polished, intriguing game that’s playable in short sessions.
For the skilled gamer, it represents a different challenge: Trying to outmanoeuvre the developer by getting to the ‘end’ with as little spend as possible, or as smartly as possible. It’s a win-win for all kinds of players, as well as the game’s publisher. It’s hardly surprising then that the worldwide gaming industry has long surpassed the $91 billion mark, as reported by venturebeat.com.
Here are some other games that have also stood the test to time.
This one’s an original classic. There are only 7 tetrominoes or block shapes to drop into place to create even, lego-like lines on the playing screen. The blocks only clear when they form unbroken lines, otherwise the blocks pile up and hit the top of the screen. Then, it’s ‘game over’. It is deceptively difficult, especially as the speed of the falling tetrominoes increases.
Slot Machine Games
Slot machines are an interesting phenomenon all on their own. Contrary to popular belief, psychologists explain that slot machine players tend to be well-read, rational, thinking people. Triblive.com reports that the spinning reels, as featured in the movie-inspired Gladiator on www.supercasino.com, for instance, offer a unique combination of relaxation and mystery.
Together with the eye movement required as the reels descend plus subconsciously rhythmic breathing coinciding with spins, this elevates players to an almost meditative or religiously peaceful state. It triggers the release of dopamine, a mood elevator. Slot players stay at it for the calm, otherworldly feeling, rather than the hope of winning.
World of Warcraft
This game is still the best-selling of the massive multiplayer online role-playing games, despite having been released over a decade ago. The creator, Blizzard Entertainment, says that more than one million participant accounts have been created. Pcgamer.com estimates that this online game world is more than 100 000 square kilometres wide, accounting for the endless things to be discovered, factions to align with and quests to be conquered.
Perhaps, then, what such games do well is exploit the lure of the random. The human brain can’t quite process this perfectly, from the anticipation of what’s to come and the micro bodily responses that alter the brain state. Could it be that one day, playing online games will be classed as a health benefit in the same way as yoga? Only time will tell.