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10/12/2013 by

Candy Crush: The Best Kept Secrets Of A Viral App

Candy Crush is the darling of the world and the most viral app ever created. One in FOURTEEN people on this entire planet have downloaded Candy Crush as of today – that’s 500 million. This is simply astounding.

Candy Crush: The Best Kept Secrets Of A Viral App

Is it chance or can you actually plan a viral app? Here’s the truth:

No matter what your app is, you can add features that help improve its chance at virality. User acquisition is important to making your app go up the charts, but user retention is what will make it go viral.

Hold onto your brain, we’re going to get scientific here…

The Desire Engine: It’s what you want and what Candy Crush has

Make your users enter into what UX expert Nir Eyal calls “The Desire Engine.” In a series of four steps, your user becomes hooked.

Candy Crush: The Best Kept Secrets Of A Viral App

If you want your app to go viral, you need committed users and this is how to get them. Here is how Candy Crush uses these steps, and how you can use them to make your app viral.

1. Stimulus: An internal or external cue reminds the user of your app. In the case of Candy Crush, this might be a note on a Facebook feed that a friend has reached a certain level or needs lives, a push notification that you have more lives available.

Looking at your smartphone or tablet at an attractive icon is also a stimulus. Some other ways to reach users could be building a fan base on Facebook, e-mail marketing, or merchandising.

2. Action: The user takes an action – an easy, simple action. In the case of Candy Crush, they play the game. No need to sign in, navigate through a long menu, or do much more than click and play.

Take a look at your app – how many steps does it take before the user can start having fun? Is there something your users can do immediately that’s fun?

3. Variable Reward: Now it’s time for the variable reward. In Candy Crush, each new level is a surprise – you don’t know what type of game you’ll get. You want to finish this level and see what’s next.

You could even argue that each new game or game piece is a variable reward. Any app can add variable rewards, which function in a similar way to the lottery or gambling. Whether in real life or virtual, contests, giveaways, bonus points, or other rewards can help keep a user engaged.

You can use fixed rewards too.

4. Commitment: At last is the commitment stage. This is where you’ll spend money to get extra turns, bonus play pieces, or sign up with Facebook and ask a friend for a life, like in Candy Crush.

You want to connect to Facebook – not to tell the whole world how much time you’re spending on Candy Crush, not because you have to in order to sign up, but because you want those extra lives!

Adding forums, messaging systems, connecting to Facebook, creating accounts, and more can increase a user’s commitment. And committed users want their friends to join the fun!

So maybe you won’t make the next Candy Crush, but you can crush the competition by improving your user retention and propelling your app towards virality. Sweet!

Want more? Time Magazine’s “Candy Crush Saga: The Science of Our Addiction” finds nine other reasons why Candy Crush is so successful.

What About You?
What’s the magic in your Candy Crush? We would love to hear your opinion.

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About the Author
Ran Avrahamy is the Co-Founder of Scringo, a startup providing developers with Tools and Products to increase their App Retention, Virality and Revenue. Ran is all-things Tech, an entrepreneur which hates the word entrepreneur – and a potential NBA star.


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