Self-control in casual games: The relationship between Candy Crush Saga™ players’ in-app purchases and self-control

Milad Soroush, Mark Hancock, and Vanessa Bohns. In Proc. GEM, 2014.

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Casual Games and free-to-play games have recentlyrapidly increased in popularity, perhaps in part because of thesuccess of in-app purchases and micro-transactions as an economicmodel. While these games are often touted for their successin the gaming market, the effect on players when faced withsuch frequent purchasing decisions in-game is not well-studied.Theories of self-control suggest that people have limited resourcepools of self-control, and facing frequent frustration and purchasingdecisions may deplete this resource. In this paper, wepresent the results of a Mechanical Turk study on a popular casualgame, Candy Crush Saga™, to investigate various factorsimpacting player behaviour, with a specific focus on self-control.Our study reveals that the amount players spend on in-app purchasesis correlated with lower levels of self-control. On the otherhand, purchases and self-control levels were not significantlycorrelated with the amount of time people play, game addiction,or problem video game playing. We present design recommendationswhich can be applied to existing or new game designs interms of both the economics of games and the psychology ofgames, including mechanics to account for low self-control and toavoid negative effects on self-control.

Bibtex entry

@INPROCEEDINGS { soroush:2014:candycrush,
    AUTHOR = { Milad Soroush and Mark Hancock and Vanessa Bohns },
    TITLE = { Self-control in casual games: The relationship between {C}andy {C}rush {S}aga™ players’ in-app purchases and self-control },
    BOOKTITLE = { Proc. GEM },
    YEAR = { 2014 },
    NUMPAGES = { 6 },