The social network released its annual year in review, which included the top 10 games selected by Facebook. This year, the top spot went to Cookie Jam, a colorful puzzle game hosted by a panda bear with a French accent who encourages you to add cookies and ingredients to a recipe as you travel through a land of sweet treats.
Unlike the other Facebook top 10 lists created based on how often a particular topic was discussed, Facebook’s top games were selected from player ratings, how much the developer implemented Facebook, growth of the app, and overall quality—so they might not actually be the most popular games on the social network relative to how many people played them.
Cookie Jam is a bit like Candy Crush Saga—you match colorful items in groups of three or more, and the higher your score, the more levels you climb with greater difficulty as repetitive instrumental music plays in the background.
In 2014, Candy Crush Saga, the game that created puzzle addicts everywhere and propelled mobile gaming company King to relative success, didn’t even crack Facebook’s top 10 list. But Candy Crush Soda Saga, a similar game from King, came in at number three. Cookie Jam beat out other contenders like the mega-popular Kim Kardashian: Hollywood that raked in millions this year and sat at number five overall on Facebook.
Cookie Jam is just another mind-numbing game to satiate the sweet tooth and Internet boredom—but it’s also an addictive app that plays off our intrinsic desire to collect and hoard things, like points or weapons, or in Cookie Jam’s case, sugary mounds.
Food and gaming have gone hand in hand for decades—we watch Pac-Man munch away at line after line of white dots in the arcade, and we swipe away fruit as fast as possible in games like Fruit Ninja on our mobile devices. Games like Cookie Jam and Candy Crush not only prey on our sweet tooth, but rely on the psychological construct of positive reinforcement, a form of operant conditioning in which rewards can condition behavior, like by training your dog to sit by giving it treats. Instead, Cookie Jam addicts are trained to click by rewarding them with pastries. It’s also infantile, as are many of the themes, visuals, and mechanics of Facebook games, a purposeful move: If we know anything about Facebook, it’s that it would like the youth vote back, please.
Despite the perceived simplicity of the colorful, noisy games, they continue to be hugely popular on Facebook. Cookie Jam launched in May, and it’s already garnered 5 million players in the last few months.
Photo via ginnerobot/Flickr (CC BY SA 2.0)