Boredom is the final boss for most game developers. No matter how good your game is, if you do not give players a reason to keep playing, eventually they will get bored and quit. Studies show that effectively incorporating game rewards increases player enjoyment, effort, and engagement.
Why does this matter? Player engagement is one of the best weapons you have for preventing boredom. Engaged players have an investment in your game and will keep playing for as long as you can maintain their engagement.
A game reward is anything beneficial that a player receives for doing something in a video game. Normal gameplay mechanics, such as awarding players with experience points, money, loot, or a score, can be rewards. Rewards can also be rare items awarded to players for specific gameplay accomplishments or for taking a desirable action, such as logging into the game every day.
Examples of popular rewards include:
In addition to in-game rewards, some games incorporate rewards players can use outside of the game, such as skins, non-fungible tokens, or points gamers can use to purchase discounted merchandise.
A reward system is the structure of rewards and other incentives that game designers use to keep players motivated to play games. Effective reward systems reinforce desirable behaviors, scale with the difficulty of the game, provide players with a sense of mastering the game, mesh with the game mechanics, and enhance player abilities.
Most successful games incorporate a variety of different types of rewards.
These rewards encourage players to play games regularly by giving them something for logging in. These rewards are usually time-limited, such as a daily reward, and may scale up to reward players for regularly performing an activity, such as logging in every day for a month.
Unlike a daily reward for logging in, a random reward is not guaranteed for performing a specific action. Instead, there is just a chance that whenever players do something, they might get a reward.
These rewards can be for any element of gameplay and are often used to encourage players to fully explore the game environment and try out game mechanics they might have otherwise missed or not bothered with. These rewards help players feel more invested in fully immersing themselves in the game world, rather than just completing a list of objectives to win the game.
Most players have an intrinsic motivation to achieve goals in games. However, intrinsic motivation may not be enough to keep players playing or to get them to take actions that you want, such as making an in-game purchase. Game rewards for achievements can motivate players to keep playing once intrinsic motivation begins to wane.
These are rewards that players earn by doing something specifically to get a reward, rather than completing a normal part of the game. Challenge rewards can help boost replay value by motivating players to go beyond the minimum required to complete a level, mission, or game.
Engaged players are fully immersed and invested in the gameplay experience. Engagement looks different for different players. Some players are fully engaged when they can buy into the game’s story.
For others, engagement depends on achieving a certain mastery of the game or a sense of accomplishment. Discovering what engagement looks like for all of your players is a critical component of a successful engagement campaign.
Rewards affect engagement in two main ways.
Motivation is the primary goal of many types of rewards. For example, the main reason to include daily rewards for logging into the game is to get players to log into the game.
Once players are no longer motivated to play your game, they will leave. Motivation is essential for preventing player churn. Motivation is also critical for promoting engagement. Without motivation to keep going, players may never experience the payoff to your game’s story or that sense of accomplishment that comes with beating a particularly difficult boss or level.
Some players love ultra-challenging games. These players will happily fail over and over until they finally achieve their goal. However, many players will get frustrated and quit when they get stuck at a particularly difficult obstacle. For these players, rewards that help them progress in the game can make the difference between keeping and losing the player.
To get the most out of your reward system, follow these best practices.
Rewards can help you keep players, but not every player needs a reward to stay. For example, new players who are progressing quickly and at no risk of leaving due to boredom probably do not need a reward to motivate them to keep playing. Targeting your efforts specifically to players who are a churn risk can help you get the highest return on your investment.
If you give away too good of a reward, it can be demotivating. For example, if players have so much in-game currency that they can do whatever they want without running out, there is no motivation to log in every day to collect an in-game currency reward. It is important to balance these rewards so that they are good enough to be motivating but not so generous that players lose their incentive to collect them.
Make sure the game rewards you offer are motivating players to take the actions you intended. If you are not getting the results you want, adjust your reward system until you do.
Not all players find the same things rewarding. For example, a streak for playing your game every day may be extremely rewarding to some players and entirely meaningless to others. Personalizing rewards to match what different kinds of players find motivating will help ensure that your rewards accomplish your engagement goals.
Players are not motivated to obtain rewards they do not know exist. Utilize push notifications and other messaging methods to ensure players are aware of the rewards available to them.
Daily rewards that players can rely on as part of their gameplay experience are useful. However, throwing in some surprises from time to time increases player interest. The chance to discover something new or earn a unique item or fun experience keeps players coming back.
Whether you are using your own game rewards or a third-party system, we can help you get the most out of your efforts by incorporating dynamic, personalized player rewards that help you reach your engagement goals. Contact us today to get started.
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