Designing gamified rewards to encourage repeated app selection: Effect of reward placement

D Garaialde, Anna Cox, BR Cowan
in International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, Journal article


Designers commonly use gamification to improve the frequency of engagement with apps, but often fail to consider the impact of placement on reward value. As rewards tend to depreciate if delayed (termed temporal discounting), placing a reward further into the future can significantly affect its ability to motivate behaviour. We examine the most effective placement of gamified rewards so as to reduce discounting and to increase the frequency an application is used. In two online studies, users were asked to choose between fictional budget tracking applications that varied in the placement of either monetary (N=70) or gamified (N=70) rewards. In both experiments we found that people more frequently used the application that provided rewards before, rather than after, the task. As predicted by temporal discounting, our work suggests that placing rewards early in the interaction sequence leads to an improvement in the perceived value of that reward, motivating further selection. We discuss the findings in the context of designing effective reward structures to encourage more frequent app engagement.