Mobile developer King is adding free, unlimited lives to Candy Crush Saga and a swath of other games this week, removing the timers that make players wait or pay if they fail too many levels. The change lasts until April 5th, and it’s part of a World Health Organization partnership called #PlayApartTogether, which promotes awareness of safety and social distancing guidelines during the coronavirus pandemic.
Seven games are being updated with free lives: Candy Crush Saga, Candy Crush Soda Saga, Candy Crush Jelly Saga, Candy Crush Friends Saga, Farm Heroes Saga, Bubble Witch 3 Saga, and Pet Rescue Saga. I can’t say if those latter six are worth your newly unlimited playtime. But Candy Crush Saga is a genuinely engrossing take on the classic match-three genre. Beneath its treacly theme and sort of unsettling mascot, there are thousands of cleverly designed and often very tough puzzles. (Yes, I can vouch personally for “thousands” — Candy Crush was my go-to subway game for years, although I haven’t played for quite a while.)
As Nellie Bowles wrote in a New York Times essay today, the pandemic has made many people reevaluate their relationship with technology, turning a reflexive disdain for “screen time” into a critical consideration of what’s on those screens. Similarly, Candy Crush sits in an often-maligned category of free-to-play phone apps — but it’s the perfect bite-sized puzzle game, and King temporarily removed its most annoying feature.