|The power of casual gaming:|
More than 9m play Candy Crush for three hours or more a day
Executive of maker King tells MPs he does not believe there is addiction problem
July 26, 2019
Last year one player spent $2,600 in a day on gold bar currency that can be used to propel gamers faster through Candy Crush Saga. Photograph: Mark Lennihan/AP `
A top executive at the maker of the multi billion dollar Candy Crush Saga game has revealed that more than 9 million players a day spend from between three to six hours or more playing the puzzle game.
Alex Dale, a senior executive at its maker, King, also told a Commons select committee investigating immersive and addictive technologies that last year one player spent $2,600 (£2,050) in a single day on the gold bar currency that can be used to propel players faster through the game.
However, he told MPs he did not believe that there was an addiction problem among Candy Crush Saga players.
“Among 270 million players we have between two and three contacts a month from people concerned about having spent too much money or time on the game,” he said. “It is a very, very small number who spend or play at high levels. When we speak with to them they say they are happy with what they are doing.”
Dale told the committee that of the 270 million players, 3.4% (9.2 million) play for three or more hours a day, while 0.16% (432,000) play for six or more. He said the average player – the core market is women aged 35 and over – plays for 38 minutes a day. Defending the numbers, Dale pointed out that the many players were from demographics that had “plenty of time on their hands”, including older people and those convalescing.
“Excessive time, it is very difficult to know what excessive is,” he said. “We have a fair number of people in their 60s, 70s and 80s playing Candy Crush,” he said. “We do want people to play more. There are going to be people that like to play our games a lot.”
Dale used the example of the player who spent $2,600 in one day as an example of not jumping to conclusions in assuming a person had a problem. He said the player took advantage of a “sale” of bundles of the gold bar currency and used them up over a seven-month period. That person then spent a further $1,060 on gold bars to use over an extended period.
“That sounds, and is, a large amount of money,” Dale said. “There was a sale on at the time so they were making a rational decision. It is down to player choice if that is what they want to do.”
Damian Collins, the Conservative MP who chairs the committee, asked whether Dale felt the games’ maker had an obligation to intervene or suspend an account of a player behaving in an excessive way. Dale said an email used to be sent out to players who spent $250 in a week for the first time but that gamers would respond that they would not play if they could not afford it and felt the communications intrusive.
Collins suggested that King had been passive in dealing with the issue. “What I’m not getting is any sense that you feel you have a responsibility as a company to identify people that are addicted,” the MP said. “You are only happy for them to refer themselves to you if they think they have a problem.”
In light of the World Health Organi zation recognising playing games to excess as an official medical condition, Dale said King would revisit the possibility of proactively reaching out to players.
“We will look at the whole area again but we have done it before and they didn’t like it,” he said. “We have customer support available in 24 languages. Among 270 million players we have between two and three contacts a month from people concerned about having spent too much money or time on the game.”
A colleague of Dale also attending the committee hearing said only one player in the UK in the last 18 months had asked for her/his account to be blocked.
• Representatives of King have said that the testimony given to the select committee relating to how many players spend three hours or more a day on Candy Crush was inaccurate. The 270m active users is a monthly total while the percentages for the proportion of gamers who spend more than three hours and more than six hours playing Candy Crush relate to daily users. King says it does not disclose daily user numbers so it is not possible to determine how many players spend three or more hours playing. The company is contacting the select committee to clarify the comments made by Alex Dale.