Candy Crush Crushed Me with Their Pay or Connect to Facebook Policy after Level 35
Today is my last day playing Candy Crush*. Which is sad because mentally checking out to exploding candy was something I looked forward to at the end of the day. That is, until I ran out of lives and had to impatiently wait 30 minutes for new ones to regenerate. But still, the song, the popping jelly, the cascading candy: it was like bubble wrap, satisfying some strange part of my brain. And then I passed level 35, and Candy Crush told me I either needed to pay up or connect to Facebook. Which is totally fair on their end — I’m not owed a free game even if they bill themselves as such by putting things on their FAQ pointing out how you don’t need to connect to Facebook or pay. Technically, though, you either have to connect to Facebook or pay… just not both. See, they were being truthful all along if you read their hidden message between the claims.
screenshot of candy crush
In fact, if you write King.com to ask about statements in their FAQ such as “You can play the full game without ever connecting to Facebook,” they send you a nice automated message that reads:
The mobile version of Candy Crush Saga features 305 levels. Every 15 levels (starting with level 35), you have to unlock a new episode to continue playing. This can be done by either asking 3 friends for help when connecting with Facebook or by paying for the ticket.
So goodbye Candy Crush. It was really nice knowing you.
But wait, you say, how could I walk away from a game that brings me such joy? Why wouldn’t I just connect it to Facebook like everyone else and keep playing?
When you give any app access to your Facebook account, developers can collect information on you. On one hand, who cares? And on the other… well, I do care, and I can explain why in a moment. Facebook states:
When you install an app, you give it permission to access your public profile, which includes your name, profile pictures, username, user ID (account number), networks and any info you choose to make publicly available. You also give the app other info to personalize your experience, including your friends list, gender, age range and locale.
That’s a lot of information I’m handing over to a stranger. I’m well aware that King.com doesn’t want it for nefarious purposes. I’m not scared that I’ll wake up and that strange Candy Crush man will be standing over my bed to smash me with an enormous pink lollipop. But I am annoyed by the fact that without being upfront in the first place, King.com is now asking me to trust them with information they want to use to market to me. The fact is, they lost my trust when they weren’t transparent, and beyond that, I’m tired of being bombarded with marketing messages. I feel like the world has become one huge advertisement.
They may not be asking me for money (well, yes, they are), but there is most definitely a price to pay for playing Candy Crush. And that price is my personal information, as well as using my account to advertise the game to my friends.
I know I sound like a crotchety old woman (mostly because I am a crotchety old woman), but look at how we contradict ourselves in our daily life. We DVR programs so we can cleverly speed through the commercials, and then we hand over access to our Facebook account information with all of our likes and locations so we can have developers market to us in order to play a game. Would I ever walk into a room full of advertising executives and dole out my name, picture, and list of my friends to them, sweetly asking them to bombard me with more marketing messages? Of course not. But for the price of a game, that’s exactly what I’m doing.
I feel like I’m fighting this constant battle with misappropriated marketing that comes out of snatching keywords or random facts such as my age, and then applying it to trends so I end up with what other people might like but I almost never do. This is different from a store or site trying to sell me something I’ve clearly expressed interest in. For instance, I don’t mind when Amazon sends me a note to let me know about a new book that is similar to one I already read — that type of marketing is creepy but ultimately helpful, and very similar to what Sean at my brick-and-mortar bookstore does when I walk inside and he tells me about a new release he thinks I may enjoy.
But the vast majority of marketing that reaches me is based on guesswork. 80% of women over the age of 35 enjoy potato chips**, so we will shunt ads towards Melissa for Pringles. Nevermind that I don’t like potato chips. It doesn’t matter if they waste a few ads on people like me when they hit so many correctly simply due to trends in demographics.
See, but I do mind because what happens is that because I discuss infertility and by default babies, I get bombarded with ads for pregnancy apps and baby items BECAUSE MARKETERS DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH INFERTILITY. My G-d, I have to shriek that because I get no fewer than 100 emails per day asking me to hawk various pregnancy-related items; that’s the category marketers have placed me in. The “R” in public relations is being dropped on the Internet in order to cast a larger net. Who cares, the public relations person thinks, if I hit a few wrong people in the process since I may also hit a few extra “right” people, all in a small amount of time. As the person on the other end of that equation, who has to deal with an inbox of pregnancy-related emails while she can’t get pregnant, it’s incredibly hurtful.
Calming myself down.
So why not just shell out the money? I would, if I knew what I was paying for. For instance, I buy a lot of games from ThinkFun such as Chocolate Fix (uh, that is the ULTIMATE candy crush) or RushHour. I pay a set amount, I know exactly what I’m getting, and nothing more is asked of me after the initial purchase. With Candy Crush, I am being asked to pay and not being told how much I’ll receive for those 99 cents. Another two hours of play? One level? Who the hell knows. And that’s a system I can’t buy into. If you want my money, be upfront and transparent. Then I’ll gladly pay for game apps.
I am really tired of the bait and switch. Be transparent and you’ll have my heart — and money — forever. Be sneaky and you incur my wrath.
* Oh my G-d, who am I kidding? I’m going to go put enormously wrong information in my Facebook profile and then connect it to Facebook so I can keep smashing candies but they will believe this game is being played by an 80-something male living in Kansas who loves Walmart, Hidden Valley Ranch salad dressing, and Sketchers.
** That may or may not be correct.