In many games there are rewards such as gold coins, points, etc. When these rewards can be used to purchase in-game items, it motivates the player to keep playing.

Let's say we have an online game, poker, Yatzy etc. What type of reward would keep the players playing if there are few in-game items available to buy, or none at all?

What I am looking for is a reward system that entices the players to play more in a game environment where there isn't that much to purchase. For example, there isn't much to buy in a poker or Yatzy game with the gold you win.

I guess having some titles that are added to the userid is one way, or maybe purchasing a logo for the id... A leaderboard is another.

Any thoughts on this?

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    \$\begingroup\$ How about the players will be "triggered" to play more because the gameplay is fun and well-executed? :) \$\endgroup\$ Oct 29, 2012 at 17:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ -1 Question seems to be looking for a discussion. I don't see how there's a correct answer to this. It's just polling for ideas. \$\endgroup\$
    – House
    Oct 29, 2012 at 18:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Byte56, Yes you are right, I agree with you. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 29, 2012 at 18:13
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Byte56 I know but I believe some general questions like this have a limited number of possible answers. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 29, 2012 at 20:41
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    \$\begingroup\$ With all respect i may have asked the question wrongly as i am not native english, sorry for that. I am not looking for a discussion i am looking for a real solution to a problem i have with a game i am working on. I have a card game and want to use coins but given my inexperience of this i would like to know how game designers do with this! ...this is a place full of people with the experience of doing these things so... \$\endgroup\$
    – PeterK
    Oct 29, 2012 at 22:02

3 Answers 3


There was a poker game - Governor of Poker - where you were making money to buy out whole Texas (I may exaggerate here), that was a funny idea, because it was giving you an objective.

Another thing that poker reminds me is strip poker! That's a great way to motivate players - not only in poker, stripping girls are welcomed everywhere (well, maybe not on a minigame made for a site about feminism). Just remember to comment this answer with link to your game when it's finished, so I don't miss it.

Some people simply implement score. It's especially nice if you can share it with others, and you will rather want to share "Yeaster Master" in a beer promotion game than "1539205", so coming up with funny rank names may pay off.

Similarly to above, a lot of games nowadays spend time on creating achievements, especially if you can share them on your blog, Facebook, forum signature etc.

Also a great reward for a player is new content unblocked - usually it's just a step forward in story of a RPG game, though it works also with lesser rewards in low budget games, like unblocking Hold'em variant in a poker game.

If you have other products, you can put some secret code for another game. Hackers won't take it from decompiled code, because they won't know it exists.

Edit: Krom Stern pointed out in comment section, it might be helpful to put more examples about the >>content unblocking<<. He's right, that the term "content" is vague, as it should be. Basically anything is content: soundtrack, background, model textures and game mechanics. If you, a player, a modder or a random generator create something - it's content. It may be counter-intuitive what kind of content may be a good reward. Some developers think only a content involved in game mechanics will meet player's satisfaction: a trinket increasing luck, an hourglass able to rewind some unfortunate events (drawing bad cards) etc. However, there are a number of "unlockables" invented by designers throughout the gaming history. Here are some relevant to a card game example supplied by question's author:

  • Codex - a book with trivia, where some facts (or parts of fictional story) are revealed,
  • Avatars - very rewarding if a forum or chat is connected with the game,
  • Card backs, as practiced by Blizzard in Hearthstone,
  • Similarly as above, alternative front look of cards could be a reward,
  • Different table, token, player avatars (as in heads near the table, representing the players) textures
  • Steam, Kongregate and other badges etc.

If you run out of things (or rather categories of things) to unlock, then you can also add another layer to the game, as in the game mentioned in first paragraph. For example, you could have a living room with space for various vanity items that represent your wealth in a more rewarding manner than a number.

  • \$\begingroup\$ "Hackers won't take it from decompiled code." Are you really sure about that? There are entire websites dedicated to it. \$\endgroup\$
    – Anko
    Aug 22, 2014 at 10:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Anko it depends, most games aren't that popular for it to be a problem; also for some hackers it will be easier to finish the game than to hack into it (again, depends on a game). \$\endgroup\$ Dec 9, 2014 at 13:53

Achievements (wiki). Now they are everywhere: in MMOs, Online games, even Visual Studio has extensions with achievements system. Even StackOverflow has it! =) [Kill 1000 rabits], [Win 20 poker games in a in a row], [Come online every day for 1 year], [Write over 9000 stupid answers]... They are just a pop up shiny boxes or a table in a player profile, but players just play achievements. Not sure why. You can add ranking table on a main page. Also you can make achievement points as base for another awards: titles, special avatars, badges as said Markus von Broady.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Totall agree. Achievements is the way to go. When rhey were first introduced in world of warcraft i thought "what a stupid thing". But on the second day after their introduction i was fully addicted and they kept me in the game for years even after all my friends (who were not interesseted in achievements) quit the game \$\endgroup\$
    – bish
    Jan 10, 2015 at 11:43

Essentially, if you are not acquiring in game merchandise using the credits you earn, the only motivation for earning them is status. The game should create an environment in which the player wishes to be the wealthiest. Try to set up leaderboards, or in some way allow the players to convey their achievement, that way they want to have more than everyone else.


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