A few years ago a friend said, "I think you'd like this game called Bejeweled." On that advice I promptly lost many hours of my life to that game playing against my Facebook friends. We clawed our way up the weekly leaderboard.
As time wore on, the weekly Bejeweled leaderboard emptied. Apparently everyone had moved to this game called Candy Crush. One day I decided to "try out" Candy Crush, and promptly lost many more hours of my life to my iPhone screen.
As I learn more about gamification, I think about these two games that have harnessed countless hours of otherwise productive time. The most engaging question in my mind is why is the Candy Crush obsession lasting longer than Bejeweled?
For those that are not familiar with the games, both are Tetris style games in which you must match up 3 pieces of a single color and the pieces disappear from the board. Points are scored for each set of three you remove. In each game there are special pieces that either explode or inhibit play.
The most addictive form of Bejeweled was Bejeweled Blitz. In Blitz, you have 60 seconds to eliminate as many pieces as possible. You compete against your Facebook friends to see who can get the highest score.
Candy Crush has levels. Each level has a board with a different layout. The levels are grouped into areas on an overall game board. Every time you enter a new area new challenges enter the game. Connecting Candy Crush to Facebook allows you to give and receive benefits from your friends that you would otherwise have to pay for.
So why have people stuck with Candy Crush longer than bejeweled? I attribute it to the changing game play. As you become better at the game the levels get correspondingly harder. It also has greater replay value with the changing game board.
Each of these games was wildly successful and can give a model for social gaming. Bejeweled is a great model for one-time initiatives, such as learning a new product line. It can be highly addicting, but has poor long-term replay value. If you have a long-term program that has to be repeated annually, such as safety or security training, Candy Crush is a better model because of the superior replay value.