Here's how free-to-play games prey on emotions to get you to pay

The Sims Social
The Sims Social

Free-to-play gaming is somewhat of a recent phenomenon, at least in the Western world. The idea that some players would pay for items in a game that they'll never truly own is strange to some and downright asinine to others. But to the folks that do the paying, it makes perfect sense ... or else they wouldn't pay. And that small portion of people is who we're concerned with, really.

Just what is it about games like Bejeweled Blitz that drive players to reach for their credit cards and enter the coveted numbers? Ethan Levy, one of the lead designers behind Facebook games like Dragon Age Legends, broke it down for a hall full of game industry fellows at this year's East Coast Game Conference in North Carolina. Frankly, these games prey on key emotions within their players.

For instance, Kixeye's War Commander has mastered the art of impatience to drive players to pay, keeping them just out of behind the curve of paying players in terms of how quickly they can churn out units. Games like The Sims Social, however, prey on everyone's green devil on their shoulder, jealousy. (You know you want that hot new TV your friend's Sim has in her house, so why not just buy it?)

To see the other emotions that social and free-to-play games prey on so well to pluck out the credit cards, check out Kotaku's write-up in full. Color this writer guilty as charged for falling prey to games that play with exhilaration--I'm looking at you, Spiral Knights.

Have you ever paid for content in a free-to-play game? Do you chalk it up to games toying with emotions? Sound off in the comments. Add Comment.

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