Why Are Sucky Browser Games So Addictive?


Sucky. There is no other word for it. What other word can adequately describe a ‘game’ which has you waiting a long time before you can get the resources you need to make a move or buy crucial equipment?  What other word can adequately describe a game where the graphics look like it was put together by a fourth-grader?  What other word can you use to describe a game that has the story depth and game lore of a pack of chewing gum?

Indeed, looking at many browser games, the phrase ‘low quality’ quickly come to mind Still, regardless of how easy it is to hate on these games, they are extremely addictive. How addictive? We’re talking millions of people the world over glued to their computer, tablet, laptop, and mobile phone screens anxiously waiting for the time to pass so they can get the resource they need to make a ‘crucial’ buy or get extra moves.

Browser games are big money makers. The big brands Evony and Travian along with other lesser brands generate millions of dollars in recurring revenue by offering players a way to pay for faster game play and game resources. As cheesy as it all seems, there are some key elements browser games have which might help application makers program a bit of addiction into their software.

You don’t get the reward consistently

According to past studies in how addictions work, people get addicted when the reward is sporadic and random. The rewards are triggered by your actions but they are sporadically awarded. Addictive games work the same way-you are committing actions in the game but only some of your moves produce rewards. This eggs you on to play further.

Non-game coders can integrate addiction building elements into software using free premiums or advanced features. The key here is to build up value by giving ‘random tastes’. Sooner or later the user can either be pushed to buy or quit. If they quit, they would not have paid anyway so no loss there, right?

If you don’t want to wait you have to pay

Once the addiction pattern is set, browser games then stick it to you. That’s right-if you want to speed things up a notch, you need to pay and pay. The best browser games embed links or code or reminders all over the game interface that you can pay for extra resources or pay to speed things up. This is crucial. Since if only a few elements on the dashboard make it clear that you can pay for speed, you aren’t pushed enough to buy the premium service.

Non-game developers can learn from this because many applications are quite shy on the hard sell. Whether you are programming online services or actual locally installed software, you have to constantly remind the user that they can get premium elements or features if they step up and pay.

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