7 Psychological Tactics Used in Games

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7 Psychological Tactics Used In Games

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Successful F2P games are a brew of persuasion techniques designed to achieve fast engagement and revenue.

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Love it or hate it, you have to acknowledge it.

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Here’s a short list of the 7 most notorious persuasive methods that can be found in casual games today:

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Loss Aversion People strive to avoid pain. And losing is painful. We experience loss in twice as intense a manner than we enjoy a possible gain.

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A classic “loss aversion trap”. Players are reluctant to lose the progress they have made in a level and pay to avoid loss. Game: Love Rocks Starring Shakira

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Notice the strong language, “Don’t abandon the baby pandas!” that aims to trap users in the loss aversion corner. Game: Panda Pop

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Timers are often used to stress users into a quick decision. (BTW, nothing happens when this timer hits zero). Game: Panda Pop

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No wonder Tinder is charging for the undo functionality. People pay to avoid loss! Game: Tinder

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READ MORE about loss aversion and more psychological tactics you can’t afford be ignorant of!

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See how I persuaded you to click my link? Such a cunning chap! Moving on.

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Endowed Progress People who feel they’ve made some progress toward a goal are more committed to achieve that goal.

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Level systems are made with the endowed progress effect in mind. A “progress” is made immediately after the first play. Game: Temple Run 2

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All “timer based” games are built around starting processes that players feel compelled to finish, only because they started. Game: Minions Paradise

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Rewards Milestones Progress bars, especially those who offer concrete milestones backed by rewards work wonders on players. Game: Minions Paradise

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Ever wondered how come you always have some of the ingredients needed to complete a mission? Now you know why. Game: Hay Day

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Simple, concrete goals can do wonders to boost retention. Game: Elevate

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Envy/Embarrassment An emotion which occurs when a person lacks another’s superior quality, achievement, or possession.

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World building games often show players their neighbours’ achievements to tap on their envy - embarrassment axis Game: Simpsons Tapped Out

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Some games would let players play with superior equipment during tutorial phase, only to take it away on the first level. Game: CSRacing

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Watching your friends progress while you lag behind is a classic envy - embarrassment motivator. Game: Candy Crush Saga

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Finally, leaving your awkward family group on Whatsapp is too damn embarrassing for you to even think about it. Game: Whatsapp

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Reciprocity Responding to a positive action with a positive action. When someone gifts us we feel obligated to give something in return.

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Receiving gifts on Candy Crush would make players more probable to return the favour when their friends are in need. Game: Candy Crush Saga

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This is such a strong social norm that some games would force players to give gifts. Game: Angry Birds 2

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Thank You! Thank You! Return Favor On this game, friends can retrieve gems that were stolen from a player’s treasure. The grateful owner would feel obligated to return the favor. Game: King of Thieves

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Scarcity We automatically desire items that are scarce or unique.

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Many items in games are considered “rare” just so players would desire them. Game: Fallout Shelter

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“Special offer” with “limited time to purchase” makes the offer seem unique. This is known as false scarcity. Game: Hay Day

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That what happens when false scarcity meets loss aversion. Game: King of Thieves

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Players that won that gun have only 1 hour and 39 minutes to use it. A tactic made to enforce play. Game: Shooty Skies

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Triggering Understand players’ motivation first, then trigger them to a desired action.

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Player’s motivation: more keys! Developer’s motivation: Like on FB Game: Best Fiends

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Player’s motivation: more gems!! Developer’s motivation: follow on Instagram Game: Best Fiends

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Player’s motivation: more lock picks. Developer’s motivation: Show ads. Game: King of Thieves

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Player’s motivation: to play more. Developer’s motivation: Players to enable push notifications. Game: King of Thieves

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Bad triggering: Waze offering me to stop by Whole Foods when they know I’m on my way to someplace else. (And I’m late!) Game: Waze

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Endowment Effect We overvalue things just because we own them. That’s why it’s so hard to leave a game we’ve invested in.

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Every completed level makes it harder to leave the game. Game: Candy Crush Saga

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So much work went into building this farm, it’s very hard to leave that behind. Game: Hay Day

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Hard earned collections seems too valuable to leave behind. Game: Dungeon Boss

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SO! Think you got all of that? How about a little..

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Name the psychological tactics you see in this screenshot.

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Endowed Progress Triggering Triggering

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And here?

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Endowed Progress Scarcity Endowed Progress

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And here?

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Endowed Progress Loss Aversion

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Well Done! Please share those psychological tactics for awesome Karma Points! Read more about users’ behaviour on DoriAdar. com

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