Why haven't more top-tier games incorporated real-world rewards? These are the titles in which 99.9% of players are not professional esports athletes and receive no monetary compensation for thousands of hours spent playing their favorite games. The possibility of introducing monetary incentives has always been on the table. Why hasn't it been done?
Overjustification is one of the cornerstone psychological characteristics that accompany motivation. This well-known mechanism decreases people's interest in an activity.
Extrinsic rewards, such as cash and prizes, are present. Money reduces intrinsic motivation, which traditional developers believe is essential for long-term player retention.
Games must avoid introducing monetary rewards into experiences that are intended to be rewarding. The thrill of defeating a difficult boss in a Dark Souls-style game is due to the fact that it necessitates considerable skill.
If you give that experience a $0.50 reward, it will be destroyed. Participating in a FIFA video game tournament with your friends to earn $0.15 would be a waste of time. Offering no money eliminates the monetary consideration and directs all attention to the game experience.
Every game has its own set of mechanisms for user retention, monetization, and reactivation. These should be more meaningful than simply expecting players to return for tokens.
Without psychology, economics is meaningless
An economist who is unfamiliar with human behavior or gaming might consider how to motivate users to play more. The more hours a user plays, the more valuable players can retrieve from their transactions; as a result, power users are more likely to pay for in-game items and transactions.
As a result, increased customer retention is critical. It boosts monetization and predicted revenue per user. Assume a user earns $0.60 per hour of gameplay on average, and you know from data and behavioral characteristics that there is a chance they will stop playing entirely. The logic goes that you can start paying them $0.30 to encourage them to keep going.
Extensive research into child behavioral psychology demonstrates the overjustification principle. We do a lot of things because they have intrinsic value for us. We are only willing to do these exercises and enjoy them the most when there are intrinsic rewards.
If a child enjoys playing the piano, a $1 reward every time they play will demotivate them over time. The same is true for demanding hobbies that require our bodies or minds to perform at their best. When we are functioning at our full potential, we are in a state of flow. We will most likely only succeed if we lose our laser focus.
In multiplayer games, a good matchmaking system can match us against opponents with an exact 50% chance of defeating us, and it all comes down to who performs a little better during the match.
Our brains differentiate between activities that offer monetary rewards and those that do not. Introducing financial rewards into a flow state is analogous to putting a wrench in a spinning wheel. Our brain prioritizes monetary outcomes over the enjoyment of the challenge.
The flow state
The state of flow is the ideal state in which you want users to find themselves. Good games, such as League of Legends and Overwatch, excel at designing matchmaking systems that keep win rates roughly balanced, allowing players to operate in a state of flow where they're attempting to push themselves to their absolute maximum limit. This generates higher intrinsic rewards by acknowledging the player's ability and providing the conditions for the player to improve and eventually succeed.
On the other hand, cryptocurrency games primarily focus on tokenomics and play-to-earn mechanics. The game loop and the enjoyment gained from playing the game come second to the crypto rewards. It is no longer a game but rather an adjunct function to an economic model.
People will only devote hundreds of hours to an activity that is enjoyable if it pays well. And you can only pay a large sum of money if many users collaborate to create a significant amount of value. This quickly becomes a death spiral for nascent crypto games, as the games are unable to generate enough value to adequately reward players for having to spend hours inside an unfulfilling game loop.
Instead of starting with economics or messily adding crypto to a working game loop, developers should create games that people want to play. A play-to-earn technique might destroy the retention of even a fantastic game with high retention numbers.
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