Koalaty Science: Mobile Games

What makes Flappy Bird so highly addicting? Photo by Laura Le.

By Benjamin Minch, Staff Writer

You have all experienced the moment when you finally beat your high score in Candy Crush or Flappy Bird. These mobile games have a powerful hold on your mental capacity and can cause addictions. Some appeal to gambling and some to the need for success, but each mobile game has its own sneaky way to keep you playing and get you paying.

The mobile gaming industry is a 12.6 billion dollar industry and 909 million people play these mobile games. This industry is huge, meaning that competitors must do everything in their right minds to make a quick buck. Many of these games are free, so the key to income comes through microtransactions and advertisements. Candy Crush saga makes nearly 2.2 million dollars in revenue per day! How do these games convince the average player to buy into these transactions? The answer is psychology.

Lets use Candy Crush for an example. This game is a very simple concept in which players match together candies to crush the tower and gain points. This game keeps players engaged through various tactics that are widespread among mobile games.

Waiting time: Waiting time is one of the number one things that keeps players coming back because it is almost the equivalent of putting that player in time-out. A player must wait for lives to regain before he or she can play again, which will cause that player to desire to play that game when their lives are refilling. This mental desire causes more dopamine, the hormone that makes you feel happy, to be released when you play the game. This will make the game seem more fun than it actually is.

Positive Reinforcement: This is one of the major incentives to keep playing because it causes dopamine levels to spike to an all time high. People love to play games where they get rewarded for playing, even if they don’t win all the time. Games will use phrases such as “you can do it” or “try again, you got this” to keep you addicted and playing.

The ease of mobile games: Most mobile games are free, meaning that they are super easy to download, pick up and play your heart out. Being on a phone, it is very easy to play while doing just about anything, as most only need one hand to operate. This causes the appeal of these games over a major console game like an xbox.

Micro-transactions are way too easy: Microtransactions are one of the main ways that these mobile game developing companies make money… and it is super easy. These microtransactions appeal to your failures, turning them into ways to make money. They will say something like “Oh no, you lost, try again with a superboost for only 1 dollar.” They price transactions super low and make your screen almost like a minefield. Pop-ups come out of thin air everywhere telling you to click on their microtransaction.

All of these factors lead to mobile games being one of the most successful technology industries. They appeal to science and impulse to snatch up victims in their lowest stages, getting them to purchase add-ons and extra lives. This is the corrupt science of the mobile gaming industry.

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