Splinterlands | Rewards & Onboarding Psychology

Splinterlands | Rewards & Onboarding Psychology

By costanza | costanza | 17 Sep 2020


There have been some big changes in Splinterlands recently with some of them being quite contentious. I still very much enjoy playing the game on a daily basis but I do see some issues when it comes down to the psychology behind the rewards & onboarding new players. These are my personal thoughts and suggestions...

 

To start off, I would like to say that I highly appreciate the team and what they have done so far actually creating a really fun game (at least at higher levels) and I'm looking forward to everything that is yet to come.

That being said, it can't be denied that attracting new players and selling them on the game has been a major issue. Even though Spliterlands is the most successful Crypto Game out there, having 6000 active daily players (with half of them probably being bots) is a complete joke for a game like this in the real gaming world for a game that is over 2 years old.

 

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Sure, the chart with the number of players (Link) has gone up, but it's nowhere near the potential this game should have at the moment and things don't seem to be improving.

Why Onboarding New Players Is So Bad
I see 2 main reasons why new players would try out Splinterlans. The first one is the belief/hope they will be able to earn some money with it (99% of the cases right now). The second because there is buzz around it in the gaming world with coverage on actual gaming sites and some youtube/twitch influencers playing it (totally non-existing at the moment)

The team has pretty much nailed the sign-up procedure which is quick and easy and doesn't require any knowledge about blockchain whatsoever (big props for that). Once that is done, the real pain starts as the game requires way too much mental effort while it doesn't give any sense of rewards whatsoever. Looking at my own affiliates 60%+ of the ones that sign up don't get further than playing zero to 3 matches. The ones that do play more nearly all end up enjoying the game and based on my own numbers around ~70% continue to play the game (See Affiliate Numbers) which is awesome!

I do know the team is working on a tutorial to solve the issue of the game being too overwhelming at first but I fear that it will be way too complicated and lack any sense of rewards and progression especially with the new collection score. If I hear the devs talk in the Discord AMA I'm honestly losing faith.

"New players will be able to experience the game and will get a taste of what it's all about, they will start gradually winning some cards over time. Collection power, it's not a thing where they go OMG, I'm never going to get that far I'm going to give up. I mean hopefully, they will see it as a goal to work towards' ...

The way I personally see it it goes like this:
New players pay 10$ to get a not so fun initial experience (early levels in the game are simply less fun), they will see an instant paywall in the collection score system without experiencing any sense of progression and say fuck this game, worst pay2win ever!

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Possible Solutions

 

1) Collection Score

I 100% agree that the game has been giving out (and still is giving out) way too many rewards and that they need to be cut back drastically. Having them linked to the collection power and how much players invested into the game is not a bad system in my view. The way it is implemented right now just completely goes against human psychology and simply reversing that could mostly fix this. Right now, all players aside from those in the top leagues with a collection of far above 1000$ totally feel screwed over as they see it as being put behind a paywall.

I have yet to see a solid argument on why it wouldn't be way better to:

LOWER ALL REWARDS AND GIVE BONUS REWARDS FOR PLAYERS WITH HIGHER COLLECTION SCORES

From a psychological point of view, this would feel way fairer to all players. Instead of being punished for not having enough cards they now get rewarded for investing more in the game. Everything else is pretty much exactly the same as it is right now.

2) New Player Sense of Progression

The game gives little to no sense of progression or rewards to new players at the moment or reasons to play at least 20+ games so new players get passed a certain point where they start to understand how everything works wanting more.

Why not have a list of objectives to complete on every newly created account that unlocks rewards for completing them. These rewards don't need to be worth much as the real rewards is the human dopamine spike players get from seeing checkboxes being winked off. Something like this could really help players overcome the initial stages of the game. Here are some examples of possible objectives and rewards.

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Objectives

 

  • Play a Ranked Game
  • Win a Ranked Game
  • Enter a Tournament
  • Play A total of 5 Matches
  • Play A total of 10 Matches
  • Play A total of 50 Matches
  • Play A total of 100 Matches
  • Comlplete the tutorial
  • 2 days consecutive logins
  • 3 days consecultive logins
  • 5 days consecutive logins
  • Buy a card on the market
  • Join a Guild
  • ...

Objective Completion Rewards

Many exclusive cards are being created and printed as an airdrop for players that bought packs. Why not create a card that is being given to new players that get the summoner's spellbook and complete a certain task like playing 100 games. The card itself can be a meme legendary card with the only real function to provide some initial collection power to new players to get them going in that regard. More possible rewards:

  • DEC
  • Potions
  • Loot Chest
  • Discount on 1st Pack purchase
  • Cosmetic Items
  • Exclusive New Player Card
  • ...

REWARDS PSYCHOLOGY

I guess this is a statement that describes Splinterlands when it comes down to rewards compared to traditional games.

TRADITIONAL GAMES GIVE PLAYERS EMPTY REWARDS THAT FEEL REAL, SPLINTELANDS GIVES PLAYERS REAL REWARDS THAT FEEL EMPTY.

Whenever I ask friends about their season or daily quest rewards it almost always goes like, "A bunch of garbage and lost of useless potions". I feel the same even though I know better since I closely track the rewards the game gives me. (See my Monthly Earnings Report). When you consistently collect the rewards, it certainly all adds up. The occasional great reward you inevitably get just doesn't provide enough of a dopamine rush or sense of reward/progression right now.

Possible Solution
Remove Epic Cards / Legendary Cards / Golden Common Cards / Golden Rare-Epic-Legendary Cards / Untamed Packs / Dice Packs and replace them by specific tokens (or whatever). In order to unlock one of these specific card/pack rewards, you need to collect let's say 10 or more of these tokens (They can even increase the 'mining difficulty over time' in a pre-determined way.) Make a separate Rewards page full with progression meters that track how far along players are when it comes down to unlocking these more valuable rewards.

A system like this would give way more sense of progression as you see meters fill up closer to reaching the rewards each day giving a dopamine rush. Since there are multiple meters, there will always be some that are close to being completed which makes it hard for players to stop playing since they always are going to want to reach just one more.

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A system like this would also make it easy to reduce the rewards cards that are given out without players experiencing it this and even increase the number of loot chests that are being rewarded.

The reality now is that reward cards are still going out way too fast even though it has been cut down already. You can follow how fast they are being printed Here.

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The 2 latest new reward cards were released only last month (See Post). By now with 6000 Daily active Players/Bots, 16%+ of all cards are already in circulation which is a pace that is just way too fast! Just imagine the game having 25k+ players let alone 100k+ active players.


That's about it, I have plenty more ideas especially when it comes down to getting actual gamers into Splinterlands but I'll leave that for another time. I hope it makes some sense and I'm hoping these ideas will reach @aggroed@yabapmat@byzantinist or others that are working on the game. I'm also looking forward to getting some feedback on these ideas so feel free to leave a comment.


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In the mean time, I continue to offer a good sign-up deal to everyone who is willing to try out the game using my Referral Link even though it goes against my own collection score power. An extra card collection worth at least 5000 Power will be leased so Bronze 1 rewards are available instantly without the need for any extra investment. See Full Sign-Up Deal.


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