[UPDATED] Candy Crush developer King disputes that 9m players play in excess of 3 hours a day

Update 11am 27/06: In an update to MCV, King disputes these figures and states the 0.16% and 3.4% figures reported are based on our daily active users (DAU), opposed to the monthly active users number (270m MAU) referenced in the hearing yesterday afternoon”.

That daily figure will be well below the headline figure, plus the company notes that even those who are playing for 3+ hours a day, are not exactly the same people day-on-day. And that the play time for an average DAU is 38 minutes.

Original story is as follows.

Original story: Alex Dale, a senior executive at Candy Crush developer King, has stated that while more than nine million players play Candy Crush Saga for three to six hours a day, he did not believe there was an addiction issue amongst its player base. Another King employee said only one player in the UK in the last 18 months had explicitly asked for their account to be locked.

As reported by The Guardian, when called to give evidence at a UK Parliament Select Committee tasked with investigating immersive and addictive technologies, Dale said only a “very, very small number” of Candy Crush Saga’s 270 million players “spend or play at high levels”. 

“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 added. “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.”

Of its 270m player base, Dale reported 3.4 per cent (9.2m people) play for 3+ hours, whilst 0.16 per cent (432,000 people) played in excess of six hours [update – calculations for the number of people come from The Guardian, not directly from King]. On average, players put in around 38 minutes a day but as the core market was women aged 35+, Dale said many players were from demographics that had “plenty of time on their hands”.

Dale also told the committee that last year, a player spent $2,600 (£2,050) in a single day on microtransactions. 

“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.” Dale then insisted the player took advantage of the sale used them up over several months, but acknowledged the same person then spent a further $1,060 on extra gold bars.

Like the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee hearing last week, the discussion also reflected upon the WHO’s recent decision to list gaming disorder as an official addictive disorder in the 11th International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11). Conservative MP and committee chair Damian Collins asked the King representatives if the company believed it should intervene when spending behaviour appeared excessive, but Dale reported that an email that was previously sent out to players who’d spent $250+ in a single week complained that the email was too intrusive and overstepped the line. 

“Excessive time, it is very difficult to know what excessive is,” Dale 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.

“We will look at the whole area again but we have done it before and they didn’t like it,” he added. “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.”

“What I’m not getting is any sense that you feel you have a responsibility as a company to identify people that are addicted,” Collins replied. “You are only happy for them to refer themselves to you if they think they have a problem.”

Calling for “urgent change” following its review into whether “further internet regulation was possible or desirable”, The House of Lords recently recommended a new regulatory body, the Digital Authority, should regulate “the digital world” in the UK. Last week, Electronic Arts and Epic Games were called to give evidence before the UK’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee. During a discussion focussed on lootboxes and compulsive behaviours, both companies claimed it had not instigated investigations into whether or not its products could be harmful or addictive.

About Vikki Blake

It took 15 years of civil service monotony for Vikki to crack and switch to writing about games. She has since become an experienced reporter and critic working with a number of specialist and mainstream outlets in both the UK and beyond, including Eurogamer, GamesRadar+, IGN, MTV, and Variety.

Check Also

Recruiter Hotseat – Phil Foxton, head of operations at Radical Forge

Phil Foxton, head of operations at Radical Forge, tells us about how the steadily expanding Middlesbrough-based community of creatives puts its people first