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Sorry, Candy Crush, I Turned Off In-App Purchases (Goodbye Lollipop Hammers)

The twins got to go to Apple camp this year — a two-day free computer camp held in the Apple store.  While they were learning how to make movies, the parents got a class on parental restrictions.  Imagine my glee when I learned that I could turn off in-app purchases on my phone, effectively ending those tempting pop-up offers from Candy Crush asking if I wanted to purchase extra moves, lives, or lollipop hammers.  I’ve yet to spend a dollar on the game, but even I don’t have an iron-clad will.  It’s really hard to say “no” during those times when I’m stuck on a level for days (my last one was level 125 — that was a killer).  I could see myself buying a few extra moves if I was a few steps away from clearing the board.

So I stopped it.

One click.


No more options for chattering teeth to eat through the licorice.

[If you want to do this on your device, go into settings, choose restrictions, set a pass code that is different from your phone’s pass code, and then scroll down to turn off in-app purchases.  In the same place, I also switched over iTunes to require a password for every single purchase instead of allowing unlimited purchases for 15 minutes once I put in my password.  There are also dozens of other limitations you can set in that area.]

My friend sent me an article the very next day about how Candy Crush parts you with your money that riffs off of the original post on Gamasutra. It’s not exactly rocket science.  Offer to sell someone 5 extra moves before the game begins, and they likely won’t take it.  Offer to sell them 5 extra moves for a paltry 99 cents when they can clearly see that they’re 2 moves away from winning, and they’ll reason that 99 cents is still less than a cup of coffee, and the purchase will allow them to move on with the game.

See, easy as taking candy.

In-app purchases also means that you’re so far removed from seeing your money float out of your hand.  The money is deducted from your iTunes account, and even that barely feels like real money (even though it is).  I mean, it’s a code on a gift card and it’s numbers and it’s the immediacy of the purchase.  All I have to do is click a button; I don’t even have to open a wallet.  I’ve already felt that danger with iBooks, purchasing new books instantaneously and starting to read them seconds later from the comfort on my living room.  So I didn’t need an article telling me just how dangerous in-app purchases could be.  I’m not particularly worried about the Wolvog and ChickieNob — I’m worried about myself.

Of course, the part about it being more of a money game than a skill game is also interesting, considering how often I get stuck.  Perhaps I just like this point because it allows me to still see myself as intelligent; I’m just at the mercy of a game that is trying to get me to purchase a booster.

Early game play maps can be completed by almost anyone without spending money, and they slowly increase in difficulty. This presents a challenge to the skills of the player, making them feel good when they advance due to their abilities. Once the consumer has been marked as a spender (more on this later) the game difficulty ramps up massively, shifting the game from a skill game to a money game as progression becomes more dependent on the use of premium boosts than on player skills.

See, it’s not me.  It’s them.

There was no a-ha moment reading that article; simply a lot of head nodding, especially when it said that “King.com was generous enough to point out that their target demographic for CCS is middle aged women. 80% of their players are women, only 34% of their players are under the age of 30, and only 9% are under the age of 21.”

In other words… me.

Which made me doubly glad that the Apple store taught me how to turn off in-app purchases.

I am sure that game programmers will only get smarter, figuring out go-arounds for all the safety nets that other software creators put in place.  But for now, no matter how much I want 5 extra moves, I cannot get 5 extra moves.  I know because I tested it, clicking on the button and smiling hugely when it told me that the purchase failed.

And if you were wondering how lucrative in-app purchases can be, Candy Crush brings in $633,00 per day.  I am obviously in the wrong profession.


1 a { 07.23.13 at 8:50 am }

We depend on willpower and a general sense of value around my house. I wouldn’t pay a dime for a facebook game, no matter how much I enjoy playing it. There are many better things to do, and getting started on that path is a steep and slippery slope. I don’t want to play with friends (I mean, unless they’re already playing – I’ll send one request, but that’s it. Maybe two, if I forget about the first one.). I don’t mind sending them lives, but to require X number of friends to move on (Gardens of Time, Plants vs Zombies) – nope, not having it. In other words, I am a game company’s worst nightmare.

My daughter wants to know why she can’t have memberships to Penguin Club or Nick.com or Winx Club or whatever else she happens upon. I tell her that I won’t pay money for things like that – they’re not worth it. Maybe this year, I’ll get her Minecraft, but I’ll have to see what the payment structure is for that. In other words, I’m opposed to long term payments for anything that is just a game. To me, it should be one purchase for many, many hours of entertainment. Someone constantly trying to put their hand in my wallet is going to end up with their fingers chopped off. 🙂

2 Bionic { 07.23.13 at 9:07 am }

Thank you so much for posting this! I didn’t know this was possible, and I am off to do it now. Not so much for candy crush — I’ve been stuck on 162 for over a month, but my pride isn’t near ready to stand down — but because pop-ups in other games drive my toddler to tears when he can’t figure out how to get rid of them. (Yeah, I know he shouldn’t be using the iPad, screen time, yadda yadda. His verbal skills are just dandy, he has other interests, and mama needs some peace and quiet sometimes.)

3 Bionic { 07.23.13 at 9:08 am }

Thank you so much for posting this! I didn’t know this was possible, and I am off to do it now. Not so much for candy crush — I’ve been stuck on 162 for over a month, but my pride isn’t near ready to stand down — but because pop-ups in other games drive my toddler to tears when he can’t figure out how to get rid of them. (Yeah, I know he shouldn’t be using the iPad, screen time, yadda yadda. His verbal skills are just dandy, he has other interests, and mama needs some peace and quiet sometimes.)

4 Gail { 07.23.13 at 9:58 am }

I made the restrictions changes, but am confused. Does turning it ON make the restrictions active or does it need to be OFF to restrict it? And, what is being restricted on things like Safari, the Camera, etc.? Very confusing, but thanks for the post about it. I’ll look into it more.

5 Kasey { 07.23.13 at 10:03 am }

Sweet Jesus. I need to make an app…

6 Mali { 07.23.13 at 11:14 am }

I laughed (ruefully it will be admitted) to hear that the target demographic for CC is middle-aged women. Yes – you (though you’re not quite middle-aged) and me (I just passed level 79 – phew), my SIL, and my English friend who is at level 200. Oh yes, and the Italian woman on the Roman metro the other day, who opened her tablet the very instant she got on the train, and started playing Candy Crush.

I’ve still never paid for anything in CC, and I have no intentions of doing so. But I’m off to check out how to restrict in-app purchases. Thanks for the advice.

7 Melanie { 07.23.13 at 2:19 pm }

Thank you!! I will do that now! The other day I spent $4 to move on to the next level. $4!! It was the first time I had ever paid for anything on CC. It was a moment of weakness. And poor planning. I had been stuck on level 167 for weeks and was pretty close to getting it so, yes, for the first time, I paid the $1 to move on. Except I hadn’t counted how many moves I’d need and still didn’t clear the board! So I did it again because I certainly didn’t want to have wasted that $1. And I still didn’t get it! The next offer was for $1.99. I was only one move away and already $2 in at that point so I did it a third time just to get it overwith. Ugh!! Definitely going to put that restriction on myself now too!

8 Rebecca { 07.23.13 at 5:17 pm }

I play candy crush too and have yet, thankfully, to be tempted to purchase a single extra anything. We’ll see what happens when I get to the higher levels. For now I’m on level 76.

9 persnickety { 07.23.13 at 6:08 pm }

Interesting that they target the “spenders”. I always wondered about that. Once you identify as a mark to them, they target you more effectively.
I do prefer “freemium” games that don’t require constant infusions of cash (tiny tower, pocket planes) or temp me much with options. I am very sad about the new Plants vs Zobies, it seems to be relying on in app purchases, unlike the first version (for PC and iPad at least-FB may be a different thing).

That said, I also have the knowledge that I can go back to my 3DS, which doesn’t have much of that at all. Although my current 3DS game is Fire Emblem Awakening- which does have the option to purchase new maps (but not easy wins).

10 Jessie { 07.23.13 at 10:43 pm }

Man, I’m glad I have never given in to the temptation!!

11 Chickenpig { 07.24.13 at 5:27 pm }

I haven’t spent a cent on the stupid game and I never will. I’ve left the game hanging for months without playing it. I’ve spent months on the same level w/o caring. I find it brings out the Buddha in me. Desire brings suffering and all that.

If someone walked up to me and gave me money to do another round of IVF on the other hand, I wouldn’t walk away.

12 Battynurse { 07.28.13 at 4:11 am }

Lol! A friend at work got me started on “can you escape” which offered me the ability to buy additional levels for .99. I exited the app as I could feel the temptation. They get you with the free stuff until they’ve got you hooked.

13 Crystal { 01.12.15 at 11:32 pm }

I can’t find the itune option your mentioned! Candy crush soda cleverly switched buttons around when you run out of moves and I got duped into buying everts moves 3 times, because i hit the button not noticing it wasn’t the try again button! Getting mad

14 rishi { 04.07.15 at 6:26 am }

Please in candy crush give me five extra move’s

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