How does a player come to love a game? By analyzing the behavior of millions of Candy Crush Saga players scientists quantified progression and churn as a competition between relative difficulty and engagement.

  • From 2014 to 2016 scientists studied a cohort of almost 12 million Candy Crush Saga players.
  • Scientists used the accumulated number of attempts to measure activity, and the maximum level achieved after a given number of attempts to measure progress.
  • There were two competing processes:
    • The number of attempts required for any given player to pass a level.
    • The number of attempts it takes any given player to become bored and abandon the game.
  • Level of engagement in casual games shows a scaling behavior (happy-get-happier, as the scientists put it) described by a power-law that is a function of a player’s progression.
  • Difficult/traumatic experiences in initial game stages lead to massive churn.
  • This analysis was repeated with Farm Heroes, Papa Pear, Candy Crush Soda, and Pyramid Solitaire.
    • All of these games exhibited the same power-law behavior of engagement.
  • Data analyzed from different continents, platforms, and periods of time showed the same behavior.
    • Evolution of engagement may be universal.


Full Nature article

Reguera, D., Colomer-de-Simón, P., Encinas, I. et al. Quantifying Human Engagement into Playful Activities. Sci Rep 10, 4145 (2020).

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