Game Mechanic: Reward Schedules

Reward Schedules
Game Mechanic: Reward Schedules

Reward Schedules
Farmville Reward
Type Feedback
Boosts Engagement, Loyalty, Revenue, Influence, Time Spent, Virality, SEO, Fun, UGC
Personality Type(s) Gamification-Diamond.pngAchievers, Gamification-Spade.jpgExplorers,
See Also Appointments, Bonuses, Rewards
The timeframe and delivery mechanisms through which rewards (points, prizes, level ups) are delivered. Three main parts exist in a reward schedule; contingency, response and reinforcer.


Traditional Gaming

Getting a level up for killing 10 orcs, clearing a row in Tetris, getting fresh crops in Farmville

Fixed Interval Reward Schedule

Fixed interval schedules provide a reward after a fixed amount of time, say 30 minutes. This tends to create a low engagement after a reward, and then gradually increasing activity until a reward is given, followed by another lull in engagement. In Farmville, wait 30 minutes, crops have appeared

Variable Interval Reward Schedule

Variable interval reward schedules provide a reward after a roughly consistent amount of time. This tends to create a reasonably high level of activity over time, as the player could receive a reward at any time but never the burst as created under a fixed schedule. This system is also more immune to the nadir right after the receiving of a reward, but also lacks the zenith of activity before a reward in unlocked due to high levels of ambiguity. An example, wait roughly 30 minutes, a new weapon appears. Check back as often as you want but that won't speed it up.

Ratio Reward Schedule

Ratio schedules provide a reward after a number of actions. There are two flavors: variable and fixed.

Fixed Ratio Reward Schedule

A fixed ratio schedule provides rewards after a fixed number of actions. This creates cyclical nadirs of engagement (because the first action will not create any reward so incentive is low) and then bursts of activity as the reward gets closer and closer. An example, Kill 20 ships, get a level up, visit five locations, get a badge.

Variable Ratio Reward Schedule

A variable ratio reward schedule provides rewards after a roughly consistent but unknown amount of actions. This creates a relatively high consistent rate of activity (as there could always be a reward after the next action) with a slight increase as the expected reward threshold is reached, but never the huge burst of a fixed ratio schedule. It's also more immune to nadirs in engagement after a reward is achieved. An example, kill something like 20 ships, get a level up. Visit a couple locations, get a badge.

See also

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