No, you aren’t good at Candy Crush or Clash of Clans

3 min read

Illusion of skill

Mobile gaming is massive. It brings in a ton of players and a ridiculously large amount of cash for developers. Some fans even go so far as to brag about how much they’ve progressed in the various games, much like sharing levels achieved in RPGs or K/D ratios in shooters. However, the progress you make in mobile games doesn’t really have much to do with your skill.

Tilting Point VP, Jesse Divnich spoke to Games Industry ahead of a talk he’s giving at the Montreal International Game Summit next week. He explains that unlike games like FIFA or free-to-play MOBAs, your progression has little to do with skill and more to do with time and money:

No one is actually good at Candy Crush, but some people actually believe they are,. In these non-skill-based games, you can tell me how many hours you’ve played, how much money you have spent, and I should be able to tell you within a good degree of certainty how far you are in Candy Crush, what level your town hall is in Clash of Clans, how many times you’ve ascended in Tap Titans. For some, it is a scary thought to know that the most commercially successful games on mobile are really just well-designed rollercoasters. It’s not a negative concept, it is simply what works in free-to-play mobile.

Divnich stresses that the illusion of skill shouldn’t be viewed as a bad thing although long-terms gamers may have an issue with it. Looking at the top 30 mobile games, 26 don’t rely on any actual skill for progression. But that doesn’t mean that people can’t have fun:

As gamers, we are hobbyists and have an entirely different perspective of gaming. We grew up in an era where skill-based, high intensity action was the norm. That still exists and thrives today, and that is not going anywhere. However, with the penetration of smartphones, nearly everyone is a potential gamer and we have to understand that what excites them and what drives them to engage in games is much different than what drives a traditional gamer. This concept of controlling the pace of progress is not disappearing anytime soon nor do I believe it is a mechanic that hurts enjoyment. You have to put yourself in the shoes of those consuming the content and if they’re having fun, that’s more important to them than whether the games they love require real skill or not.

In application, Divnich explains that mobile gamers need to keep this aspect in mind if they are seeking commercial success with their games. Most developers want to make the types of games that they would enjoy playing, but most mobile gamers fall into another group. These gamers want to enjoy the gameplay experience and feel rewarded for the time that they put into it, regardless of any actual skills or abilities. In much the same way that children’s sports competitions are starting to give out trophies just for taking part, it seems that mobile gaming is all about making a fun and rewarding experience for players, even if all they did was tap the screen in predictable ways.

Now I wonder how many hard core games are the same. Is it all just a pre-build rollercoaster that I’m enjoying, or do my hours of gameplay really result in improved performance and reward?

Last Updated: November 12, 2015

Zoe Hawkins

Wielding my lasso of truth, I am the combination of nerd passion and grammar nazi. I delve into all things awesome and geek-tastic. I believe people should stop defining themselves and just enjoy playing games, so let's get on with it!

  • justlikemo

    Tap Titans Rocks! the other titles in the picture I got bored eventually of them. A game to try out is Vainglory. The bestestesttest MOBA game you will get on a touch screen.

    • Guild

      I haven’t had time to get back to Vainglory but can’t stress what an awesome game it is. I would easily spend 3-4 hours a night playing it

      • justlikemo

        dude, I have bags under my eyes cos of that game. My phone is plugged into the wall , chargin, while I play that game.

        • Guild

          XD I was doing the same thing. Vainglory gets a grip on you and you just can’t stop. It’s well executed game.

          • justlikemo

            definitely, whose your favourite character ? besides krul!

          • Guild

            I’m not a fan of Krul. He didn’t appeal to me. But favourite character is difficult, one point I played a lot of Glaive, then Taka. Skaarf used to be awesome till he got nerfed. I played a lot of Vox then Celeste. Last few games I played before I took a break was Aiden. There is a lot of versatility in the Vainglory which is what appealed to me.

          • justlikemo

            I like Krul as a jungle character, no one can defeat him with his regenaration. Vox rocks! I like SAW for the lane, Celeste I use alot for roaming. Play again, the new updates changes the gameplay to being 1 sided when you stick to the same characters all the time.

    • CypherGate

      I tapped my screen broken playing Tap Titans. #neveragain.

      • justlikemo

        haha, i know the feeling, my screen is a bit loose since I took the cover off last week to clean it. Not sure how it got that way, I supect between tap titans and pvz2, something went wrong

  • “Looking at the top 30 mobile games, only 26 rely on any actual skill for progression.” This sentence strikes me as wrong. It is like saying only 95% of console gamers actually suck at gaming. 😛

    • miaau

      yeah, based on graphic it seems the other way round? I don’t know anymore. I am tired. sleepy.

    • Her Highness the Hipster

      *ninja edit*
      I have no idea what you’re talking about 😛
      *ninja gets more coffee*

      • miaau

        And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how it is done

        Ninja gets more coffee. Or tea. makes the world go round, that does

      • You ninjitsu is strong. You have become a master.

  • konfab

    Skill in most games actually comes down to patience and the amount of time you want to commit to the game, this is no different from mobile games.

    What I define as skill is the ability can be applied to another game for your benefit.

    Look at KOTOR for example, you would need a bit of time to get the skill to manage your squad, though once you have it, you could pick up a game like Dragon Age: Origins and have a much easier time.

  • BurninZ

    I know i suck at CoC, i get told that all the time. it does not stop me from putting a stupid amount of time into it thought.

  • Johann

    I just can’t enjoy any form of mobile games. I’ve tried CoC, Candy Crush, Fallout Shelters and a couple others that I can’t even remember the name of. I think South Park’s episode about mobile gaming hit it right on the head, crappy games that get dumb people to pay shitloads of money so that they can “progress” faster.

    • CypherGate

      Same here. When I see screens of the games and videos then Id be like oh wow that looks fun to play. then I download it, install it and try it out. EACH and every game starts the same. A typical tutorial like any other and then they give you free rubies or what ever currency to start out and help you level up to level 2 etc. Then the game begins. By that point im like uhmmmm…. what am i playing. Then I lose instant interest in the game. Its been that way for all of them so far.

  • CypherGate

    So basically what he is saying is that these are casino based games. The only difference is that you DONT win any money.

  • Saumya Prakash Mishra

    I know only one working Clash Of Clans hack on I use it every day and it is free. You can generate as much gems or other stuff as you wish!

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