Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Why In-App Purchases Will Bankrupt You

App purchases, on the other hand, are designed to be incredibly seamless. Your credit card is stored with Apple, Google or Amazon, and all it takes is a quick click of a button to instant gratification, no uncomfortable reminders that you just spent real money on that virtual life or game boost. What’s more, games use subtle-but-effective psychological tricks to keep you playing and spending. The Guardian’s Dana Smith writes that “Candy Crush” is exceedingly popular because it uses a series of ingenious mind-games to make it addictive. First, it’s simple. Games start off easy to play with frequent mini rewards that cause a release of “neurochemical dopamine.” This pleasure response in your brain is similar to the “neuro-circuitry involved in addiction, reinforcing our actions.” The next step is to increase the challenge, making the dopamine bursts more intermittent. If it stayed easy forever, you would get bored. And, as it turns out, an unpredictable reward schedule (a “variable ratio schedule of reinforcement”) is more addictive to our brain’s pleasure sensors than one where you keep consistently winning. more

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