What Is The Candy Crush Saga’s Product Manager’s Secret To Success?

The secret to keeping a product fresh is to always be reinventing it
The secret to keeping a product fresh is to always be reinventing it
Image Credit: Albert Hsieh

Who wouldn’t want to be the product manager for a hugely popular mobile video game? The Candy Crush Sage product managers have had an amazing run for the past eight years as their product burst upon the scene and then just continued to grow in popularity. However, it’s been a really long time, when measured in video game years, and they still seem to be very popular. What is the secret to success for these product managers?

The Secret To Candy Crush’s Success

Let’s face it, it’s been a long time since “Candy Crush Saga” landed in app stores, driving people to spend their spare time matching clusters of jelly beans, gumdrops and other food items. The market has not stood still. There have been many other hits in the “match three” puzzle category since then. However, somewhat oddly “Candy Crush Saga” is still wildly popular. If you need numbers, then it is on track to gross nearly $1 billion in sales of digital goods alone for 2020, just as it did in 2019. That would look good on anyone’s product manager resume.

So where did this juggernaut of a game come from? “Candy Crush Saga” was created by the European game maker King Digital Entertainment. This company was acquired by Activision Blizzard for $5.9 billion in February 2016. The product managers at King Digital enjoyed an advantage early on because mobile games were still somewhat of a novelty when it made its debut in 2012. Competition for downloads was minimal compared with today, enabling the game to develop a strong player base from the start.

That’s all fine and good. However, how has Candy Crush remained relevant over the past eight years? The game and some product development definition spinoffs like “Candy Crush Soda Saga” have remained atop mobile-app revenue charts for many years. One of the keys to the product managers success is that they obsess over player feedback. But there’s more to their story of success.

Secrets To Long Term Product Success

The product managers at King Digital release approximately 45 new levels for their game per week. This means that there are currently more than 7,800. They don’t repeat levels, because that would be boring. Key to their success is that every level also has to be challenging enough that people feel like it’s fun to conquer. Although the company is in business to make money, their design ethic is that they want people to be able to play every level without monetizing. The majority of their players have never paid them anything. But the free-to-play economy does bring scale, so the percentages of people who they do monetize are attractive.

A key to the way that the product managers have been able to keep their game a success for so long is by gathering useful player feedback. They are able to do this in lots of different ways. One way is a community forum where they get tens of thousands of comments a month. The product managers read every post. It’s a great way to understand the sentiment of the community. Reviews on the app stores are also full of customer commentary. The product managers take the time to look through each one of them. Some are great and reinforcing, some can be difficult for them to read.

Another thing they do is they host quite a few events with customers at their offices around the world. Customers are invited in and then put in front of developers, marketing people and management. The customers give amazing suggestions and insights. The product managers also take the time to interact with their younger players. This allows them to feel like a kid again. If the product managers can continue to innovate, they won’t have the expectation the game will go away. With the talent they have and the culture being player-focused, they’ll always have great ideas. The product managers are in year eight and they’re just getting started.

What All Of This Means For You

The product mangers for the mobile video game “Candy Crush” know that they have a hit on their hands. In fact, they’ve had a hit on their hands for the past eight years. The fact that their video game has been able to remain popular for that long is amazing. In order to create a game that is popular in the first place and then to keep it popular shows that they know what their product manager job description wants them to do. What is the secret to Candy Crush’s long term success?

Candy Crush is very popular. There has been a lot of competition, but the game is still bringing in a great deal of money. Candy Crush was bought by the game company Activision Blizzard. Their original success came from the fact that when they started, they had little completion. The product managers have always been very interested in customer feedback. They are always introducing new levels each week. They can make money from their players, but they don’t force them to pay to play. The product managers gather feedback from customers in a number of different ways. The product managers also host events where customers are provided with opportunities to meet with the development team.

Candy Crush was a game that caught on with its customers when it was first introduced. The product managers have been able to keep it interesting by adding new content. Their willingness to listen to what their customers are telling them and then then work it into the game has helped to keep their customer base and to grow it. If they are able to continue to keep doing what they are currently doing, then this is a game that should be around for quite some time.

– Dr. Jim Anderson Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Product Management Skills™

Question For You: Do you think that the Candy Crush product managers should use their existing game to introduce new games to their customers?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

If you take a moment to think about it, U.S. tech product managers have actually had it pretty easy. They operate with few restrictions about what they do and the products that they create just seem to collect more and more data about their users. However, this may be all about to change. What’s interesting is that the change is not happening in the U.S. – it’s happening in the EU. These changes may affect everything that these tech product managers do.