Candy Crush developer talks difference between freemium and free-to-play as Papa Pear Saga imminent
King, the developer and publisher of Candy Crush Saga, is about to release its latest games app for Android, iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. Already available to play through Facebook, Papa Pear Saga is a Pachinko/Peggle-style game that exhibits the same addictive streak as the company's other titles and early signs are that it will join its stablemates at the top of respective app charts.
Like Candy Crush and Pet Rescue Saga, Papa Pear Saga is a free-to-play title in that you can download it for free, play the game and pay only if you want to acquire boosts, extra lives or unlock new level packs and can't wait for the help of your Facebook friends. It's a model that has been criticised by some, but has been hugely successful for King. The developer's former titles have been consistently among the highest grossing mobile games since their respectively release dates.
Read: Candy Crush Saga review
Some slap the freemium label on King's games, a buzzword that has negative connotations in the media at least. And the developer is keen to point out that there is a distinct difference between the free-to-play model it adopts for its titles and the freemium model adopted by others.
"At King, we never use the word freemium. There is a difference between freemium and what we call free-to-play," Pocket-lint was told by Jan Wedekind, business performance director at King and a lead on Papa Pear.
"Freemium is a model in which you offer a free version of your product - in this case a game - that has some core features, but some very important features missing. And then you ask players to pay for these features to get the full version.
"That’s not the case with Papa Pear or any of our games. If you play Candy Crush you are playing the exactly same game whether or not you are paying. You can get the same 440 levels on Candy Crush whether you are paying or not.
"There is no difference in the core mechanics, nothing in the user-interface that helps to make moves simpler or anything like that. You get the same game."
Wedekind also explained to us that the difficulty levels in freemium games can often be tweaked to effectively ensure you pay to progress.
"A freemium game can often be very hard in comparison to a non-freemium game," he said.
"You could not just take the in-app purchases out and sell that as a 69p game. We can easily do that with Candy Crush. We could just take out the in-app purchases and sell the game. You could still play it from the first level to the last.
"That’s very important to us. We really want to be truly free-to-play. The offer is very clear, if you want to progress faster you do have things that can help you. You can buy more lives and if you don’t want to ask your Facebook friends for their help, you can unlock the next bunch of levels, but if you want to play the game, there is no need to pay for it."