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7 Psychological Tactics Used in Games

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Successful free to play games are a brew of persuasion techniques designed to achieve fast engagement. Here’s a short list and lots of examples of the most notorious persuasive methods and psychological tactics that are used in games you play and love.

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7 Psychological Tactics Used in Games

  1. 1. 7 Psychological Tactics Used In Games
  2. 2. Successful F2P games are a brew of persuasion techniques designed to achieve fast engagement and revenue.
  3. 3. Love it or hate it, you have to acknowledge it.
  4. 4. Here’s a short list of the 7 most notorious persuasive methods that can be found in casual games today:
  5. 5. 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.
  6. 6. 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
  7. 7. Notice the strong language, “Don’t abandon the baby pandas!” that aims to trap users in the loss aversion corner. Game: Panda Pop
  8. 8. Timers are often used to stress users into a quick decision. (BTW, nothing happens when this timer hits zero). Game: Panda Pop
  9. 9. No wonder Tinder is charging for the undo functionality. People pay to avoid loss! Game: Tinder
  10. 10. READ MORE about loss aversion and more psychological tactics you can’t afford be ignorant of!
  11. 11. See how I persuaded you to click my link? Such a cunning chap! Moving on.
  12. 12. Endowed Progress People who feel they’ve made some progress toward a goal are more committed to achieve that goal.
  13. 13. Level systems are made with the endowed progress effect in mind. A “progress” is made immediately after the first play. Game: Temple Run 2
  14. 14. All “timer based” games are built around starting processes that players feel compelled to finish, only because they started. Game: Minions Paradise
  15. 15. Progress bars, especially those who offer concrete milestones backed by rewards work wonders on players. Game: Minions Paradise Milestones Rewards
  16. 16. Ever wondered how come you always have some of the ingredients needed to complete a mission? Now you know why. Game: Hay Day
  17. 17. Simple, concrete goals can do wonders to boost retention. Game: Elevate
  18. 18. Envy/Embarrassment An emotion which occurs when a person lacks another’s superior quality, achievement, or possession.
  19. 19. World building games often show players their neighbours’ achievements to tap on their envy - embarrassment axis Game: Simpsons Tapped Out
  20. 20. Some games would let players play with superior equipment during tutorial phase, only to take it away on the first level. Game: CSRacing
  21. 21. Watching your friends progress while you lag behind is a classic envy - embarrassment motivator. Game: Candy Crush Saga
  22. 22. Finally, leaving your awkward family group on Whatsapp is too damn embarrassing for you to even think about it. Game: Whatsapp
  23. 23. Reciprocity Responding to a positive action with a positive action. When someone gifts us we feel obligated to give something in return.
  24. 24. Receiving gifts on Candy Crush would make players more probable to return the favour when their friends are in need. Game: Candy Crush Saga
  25. 25. This is such a strong social norm that some games would force players to give gifts. Game: Angry Birds 2
  26. 26. 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. Thank You! Thank You! Return Favor Game: King of Thieves
  27. 27. Scarcity We automatically desire items that are scarce or unique.
  28. 28. Many items in games are considered “rare” just so players would desire them. Game: Fallout Shelter
  29. 29. “Special offer” with “limited time to purchase” makes the offer seem unique. This is known as false scarcity. Game: Hay Day
  30. 30. That what happens when false scarcity meets loss aversion. Game: King of Thieves
  31. 31. Players that won that gun have only 1 hour and 39 minutes to use it. A tactic made to enforce play. Game: Shooty Skies
  32. 32. Triggering Understand players’ motivation first, then trigger them to a desired action.
  33. 33. Game: Best Fiends Player’s motivation: more keys! Developer’s motivation: Like on FB
  34. 34. Game: Best Fiends Player’s motivation: more gems!! Developer’s motivation: follow on Instagram
  35. 35. Player’s motivation: more lock picks. Developer’s motivation: Show ads. Game: King of Thieves
  36. 36. Player’s motivation: to play more. Developer’s motivation: Players to enable push notifications. Game: King of Thieves
  37. 37. 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
  38. 38. 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.
  39. 39. Every completed level makes it harder to leave the game. Game: Candy Crush Saga
  40. 40. So much work went into building this farm, it’s very hard to leave that behind. Game: Hay Day
  41. 41. Hard earned collections seems too valuable to leave behind. Game: Dungeon Boss
  42. 42. SO! Think you got all of that? How about a little..
  43. 43. QUIZ
  44. 44. Name the psychological tactics you see in this screenshot.
  45. 45. Endowed Progress Triggering Triggering
  46. 46. And here?
  47. 47. Scarcity Endowed Progress Endowed Progress
  48. 48. And here?
  49. 49. Endowed Progress Loss Aversion
  50. 50. Well Done! Please share those psychological tactics for awesome Karma Points! Read more about users’ behaviour on DoriAdar. com
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Successful free to play games are a brew of persuasion techniques designed to achieve fast engagement. Here’s a short list and lots of examples of the most notorious persuasive methods and psychological tactics that are used in games you play and love.


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