The gaming “Carrot-on-a-Stick”


My favorite gaming platform has always been PC although we also have a Wii and 2 XboX360’s at home. Its probably because i grew up gaming on PC (and so called Home Computers before that) and my parents never thought about getting a game console for my sister and me. When i was 18 i bought myself a Nintendo Gameboy when i lived in Canada for a year. Many years later my wife got me a Sony PSP for my birthday but despite that my go-to favorite machine to enjoy gaming has always remained the PC.

The introduction of the mobile phone also got us so-called mobile games. Starting with classics like Snake on all Nokia phones, with the developement and improvements to mobile phones and later smart-phones also grew the amount and quality of mobile games. There have been some very good and innovatieve games on the mobile and tablet platform but personally they cannot compete with a good and immersive game on PC or console. Usually they function as a quick passtime when waiting at the dentist or at the busstop but can hardly keep my attention for more than 10 minutes and a couple of days.

Most of these games however try to bind their players with the use of daily login rewards and the so-called “carrots on a stick”. Recently i have installed the free-to-play game Dungeon Boss on my iPhone. The objective is to get up to 4 of your collectable Heroes through short (1-5 minute) dungeons collecting tokens to get more Heroes or to upgrade the ones you already own. When you have reached a high enough level you get to create your own dungeon which you need to protect against other players with your available Heroes. Its up to you to raid other players dungeons for rewards or the general dungeons for Hero tokens. You can take on (daily) quests to earn eXtra rewards and to help out your guild in earning guildrewards.

I was wondering why this game keeps my interest for weeks on end already even managed to make me login on a regular daily base to go finish the daily and guild quests and trying to get enough tokens to get this new Hero or upgrading that one Hero i love to improve. Apparently the carrot in this game is the same used for eXample in the Pokemon games where all players keep trying to get all the available characters…

Mobile Ant

Eventhough these games wont replace the ones on my PC, not even Dungeon Boss, it is interesting to see why this carrot is so appealing. A good (mobile) game needs a good carrot but not every “gamer” is caught with the prospect of collecting 50 or so characters by grinding days, weeks or months… The secret i think lays in the fact that the first week or 2 you need to bind the new player with the prospect of offering them something new every day. If you dont reward them when they are discovering the game they will quickly put it aside to try something else. But if you manage to keep that player interested for a (couple of) week(s) they start setting bigger goals and they dont need to be lured back in every day. So you need short term goals as well as long term goals. I guess that is no different for mobile games, PC or console games nowadays… Alot of games have introduced daily quests and login rewards these last few years and i think it has the desired effect because i keep catching myself login in to several games just to pick up a login reward or finishing a couple of dailies, even feeling guilty when i skipped those quests/rewards for a day!

Enough on addictive game mechanics for now because i still need to pick up the login rewards for Marvel Heroes and Guild Wars 2 before i get back at finishing my daily quests in Dungeon Boss to get the new Hero ive been franticly saving up tokens for… Gotta catch ’em all!