What makes a game addictive?

    What makes a game addictive?

  • 1 Hard to beat

    When people beat games easily or pass many levels without facing troubles they usually lose interest in the game. A game that is hard to the extent that people face big difficulties facing its first few levels is more likely to become addictive. Example: Flappy Bird.

  • 2 The average game doesn't last long

    Mini games and games that can be played in very short breaks are more likely to become addictive since people revert to them in the middle of other tasks whenever they feel like procrastinating.

  • 3 The implementation of the right reward system

    When humans anticipate rewards their brains produce dopamine, a chemical that causes addiction. When the reward system in a game is implemented correctly people become more addicted to the game. Candy Crush is a very good example of a game that makes rewards emotional.

  • 4 Including variable rewards

    People get addicted to gambling because they can dream about any reward and still believe they can get it. When a game includes a variable reward instead of a fixed reward system, it's chances of becoming addictive become much higher. See the reasons why people gamble.

  • 5 Short learning curve

    It was found that games that are simple to learn, not to beat, usually become more addictive since more people are likely to try them and stay hooked to them. See why simple products are more likely to succeed than complex ones.


  • 6 Utilizes certain psychological needs

    Games that utilize certain psychological needs such as Nostalgia, for example, are more likely to become addictive. Flappy Bird used that technique when it used similar elements to the old Super Mario game that many people feel nostalgic about.

  • 7 No defined end

    Many of the addictive games don't have a predefined end. This prevents players from ever getting the feeling that they are done with the game. Subway Surfers is a good example of a game that doesn't have an end.

  • 8 The pleasurable part of the brain is conditionable

    The human brain can be conditioned to experience pleasure when it gets certain rewards. Many games first get the attention of some players then condition their brains to enjoy it by manipulating their reward system.

  • 9 They raise negative emotions then eliminate them

    Many games make people feel negative emotions then eliminate them quickly; thus creating a pain-pleasure cycle. Tetris is one of the games that has done this pretty well. It uses the frustration-relief cycle to keep people hooked.

  • 10 They utilize social connections

    Humans are social beings. Games that utilize social connections and helps people connect with each other are more likely to become popular and addictive.

  • 11 They utilize scarcity

    The human mind usually believes that a scarce resource is more valuable. Some games utilize scarcity by giving players very limited resources that regenerate as the time passes. Clash of Clans is one good example of a game that does that well.

  • 12 Something keeps happening even when the game is turned off

    One of the addictive elements present in many games is the fact that things keep going on even when the player is away. This concept motivates players to come back and keeps them thinking about the game. Farmville is an example.

  • 13 Utilize the competitive spirit of a person

    Games that compare scores of people to scores of their friends or others in their social circle can become much more addictive since they trigger the competitive spirit of competitive people.

  • 14 Allow different forms of self-expression

    Games that allow players to express themselves in their own way usually become more popular as they appeal to different classes of people. Minecraft is a perfect example of a game that utilizes that concept.

  • 15 The game provides a sense of progress

    Most games provide some sort of a sense of progress to keep the player engaged even more. See examples of how a sense of progress motivates people.