A huge part of being in the Game Development business is knowing what will keep people coming back to play your game. Knowledge of what people find fun and/or addictive is extremely important, the tough thing is that not everyone has the same opinion on what is fun and what isn’t.
Being surrounded by gamer nerds every day, I decided to ask them what they find addictive in a game and what keeps them coming back. There were a few different results.
The first answer I received was that the collection of achievements in a game is very addictive. In the gamer world there are a lot of perfectionists who need to complete every single challenge in order to feel fulfilled. Many games do this such as the collecting of Cogs throughout the game in Gears Of War or receiving the full 3 stars at the end of an Angry Birds level. One girl stated that she never leaves a level of Angry Birds until she has successfully got those 3 stars.
The next one, which I admit I hadn’t thought of myself, was when games give you the feeling that you’re making a difference within the game world. Knowing that the world is affected by their actions gives the player a sense of complete control which in turn, helps to immerse them in the game. I believe Fable 3 does this very well as the physical world itself changes depending on the decisions you made at the beginning of the game.
One very popular element that was mentioned was when games allow you to explore large environments, and I admit I’m a sucker for this. I love having the option to not complete the main storyline straight away and to be able to explore the map and find interesting side stories and quests. I actually find the smaller quests more enjoyable than the main story! Oblivion is a very good example of this.
The addition of multiplayer or the ability to compare scores via a leaderboard is very popular as it entices the player to improve their score if one of their friends beats them. This helps to create an endless cycle of competitive gameplay which is great for small iPhone/iPad games. Multiplayer or Co-op games allow friends to play together which is something that a lot of gamers find extremely fun, and these games can range from Battlefield 3 to Farmville!
According to the information I gathered, these are the main ways of creating addictive and enjoyable gameplay and at least one of these will be feasible for any game you make. Just remember, if you can make the player feel rewarded for playing, they will keep coming back! Let me know in the comments what you think of the answers I got, or if you can think of any other elements that help get you addicted to games.