Player Behavior Design Values: Reward

By Lyte

TLDR: Our player behavior philosophies include punishment, reform and positive reinforcement. With rewards, we have to be careful to design systems that don’t simply incentivize positive behavior for a small duration, but provide reasons to stay positive all the time.

Hello again!

Last time, I mentioned that Drevarius would go into a deeper dive on punishment in this blog, but with the surprise Mystery Gift for positive behavior going out to 95% of players in 2014, we wanted to take the opportunity to jump ahead and explore our philosophies around rewards and positive reinforcement.

One of our core philosophies is that there's no silver bullet to improving player behavior in online games, and you always need a mix including punishment, reform, and positive reinforcement.


End of Snowdown Mystery Gift

In 2014, we focused on the community and self-reflection. We ran a few experiments, including an exercise where players reflected on their last 10 games and we all came to the conclusion that the one negative experience that happens occasionally should not define our community. With Snowdown’s celebration of everyone coming together to be a part of the Legend of the Poro King, it was a great opportunity to deliver a positive behavior surprise.

One of the keys of positive reinforcement is the idea of “schedules,” or the expected frequency of a reinforcing event. Introducing surprise rewards unrelated to specific activities or durations is one of the most effective ways to encourage positive player behavior. The surprise element is crucial: imagine an achievement system where, if you are sportsmanlike for your next 10 games, you unlock a free skin. Players could simply behave for 10 games, unlock their gift and go back to playing the same way they were before (whether that’s positive, negative or neutral). So, instead, we’ll continue to surprise players once in awhile for their positive behavior. Because players aren't sure what the next reward is (or when it is), players will strive to be sportsmanlike in a larger range of games to try to get all the surprises.

For positive players in the game, this won't really affect them and they'll just get surprises every so often for being awesome. For neutral players, this effort might convince some of them to put in that extra effort in a few more games to get the next surprise. For negatively behaved players, this effort might also encourage a few to change their ways although we expect the biggest impact to be with the neutral players.


It's All in the Surprise!

In future roll-outs it’ll be possible for players to earn the next surprise so long as they've been positive since the last surprise was awarded. So, if you were chat restricted and missed a surprise, you could still be eligible if you were positive in the time range between that one and the next.

Also, keep in mind that not every surprise will be a mystery gift. Every surprise will differ in magnitude, and be tailored to different players. For example, the last surprise before the end of Snowdown gift was an IP Boost, mainly beneficial for newer players still building out their champion pools. Other surprises may include collectibles like unique summoner icons (which some players will remember we’ve tried before with the Santa Baron icon).

In the last blog in this series, we’ll be back to discuss punishment as a deterrent for negative behavior and our philosophy around it. Thanks as always, and we’ll see you in game!

- Lyte


4 years ago

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