Lessons from Candy Crush Saga Live Ops

At Gamesbeat Summit 2022, I attended a Live Ops panel with Jon Radoff (Beamable), Josh Yguado (Jamcity) and Jason Bailey (East side games). I asked the panel whether there were specific games genres where live ops would be less effective. Josh's answer surprised me: almost all genres could use live ops. Even a match 3 game such as Candy Crush leverages live ops to incredible effect.  So, how does Candy Crush do it?

Intrigued, I decided to study the live ops for Candy Crush Saga. My sources included the candy crush fandom site and kings own community web pages. Here's a summary of what I found.  The specific event names are italicized.

The Basics

Candy crush events happen regularly, if not weekly then monthly. Each event has some common elements - limited time window, a challenge activity, a reward and a creative element. We will examine each of these separately.

Time windows

The early events started out as simple 1 or 2 day affairs. A magic trick and a sweet lunch were good examples. Over time events got longer, an example being the 72 hour Booster Bot. Booster Bot was so successful that it became a week long event, and then subsequently a continually running event. Additional complexity was added when events were staged. All stars was a long event which had qualifying stages, quarter-, semi- and finals stages. Each stage were incrementally longer than the previous stage.

Challenges become harder

Players were tasked to complete certain levels and collect certain number of specific candies. Treasure hunt was achieved after collecting 5000 purple donuts. A magic trick required you to complete 3 specific levels. Completing consecutive levels without failing is a step up. Tournament style challenges also emerged. The aforementioned All Stars event allowed players to progress to the next stage depending on where they placed in the leaderboard of "collections", including stripped and wrapped boosters.

Rewards match the effort

Players receive simple boosters and various color bombs for the first events. When consecutive level challenges were introduced, tiered rewards based on the difficulty of achievement were given. In Space Dash, when more than 3 levels were completed, players received extra moves in addition to color bombs and boosters.

Creative themes enhance game mechanics

Events around holidays provided opportunities to spice up the game narrative. Winter Festival blanketed Candy Town with snow, which players could clear up by collecting mugs of hot chocolate! The Halloween themed Spooky Skull and the Valentine themed Lovely Letters kept the events fresh and novel.

These four aspects of an event define the player mechanics.  You can use them to design your own live events.  But executing the events also require communicating appropriately with your players.  These included announcements of the event, reminders during the event and congratulatory messages once the challenge was achieved.  We will cover these in the next blog post.  Sonamine uses machine learning scores to execute live ops and lifecycle campaigns, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.to learn more.

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