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Badges, Achievements and Levelling Up

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Since games began the emphasis has been on fun and player enjoyment.  Traditionally games were short lived but that has evolved now to allow games to run for over a decade (all hail RuneScape!).

An important part of ensuring players stay with a game is some form of reward(s).  

Rewards have three purposes (ok ok.. three *main* purposes!): 

- Give the player some attainment that they can strive for within the game - therefore increasing their player longevity as they want to get the next thing.

- Allow players to get kudos/bragging rights with their friends and others.

- Appeal to the "collector" / "completionist" in players and encourage them to play the game to the maximum

Reward Types

We can't cover them all so let's cover Badges, Levelling/Tiering and Leaderboards/Leagues/Ladders.


Badges are a form of "trophy" or "achievement" that is awarded to the player/user/team/group.  Typically they fall into two types: public or private. 

Public badges are applied to all and usually will be seen whether one has achieved the badge or not.  Public badges are used as a lever to persuade players/users into a certain behaviour or plan.  For example a public badge could be "play first multiplayer game" where it (hopefully) encourages even fans of the single player element to try the multiplayer game aspects (and then to play more).

Private badges allow the system to give special achievements away.  This could be time-sensitive (register in the early access phase of the game) or just a special thank you.  Although private badges give the ultimate bragging rights they're also divisive because they're unattainable by the masses.. so use wisely!

In short: badges are ad-hoc and "round out" a player/team/group/user rather than showing their quantifiable skill level.

Levelling / Tiering

Levels have existed since the early days of games (arguably invented first in Dungeons & Dragons for real use as an in-game mechanic) to give some idea of quality and difficulty/skill.

Levels provide a method of progression.  They allow the player to understand where they are within the game levels/tiers and what they need to progress to the next level/milestone.

Often levels are tied to game content to encourage some form of "grinding" or working up to get the content.  In this way games can also ensure that players are a certain skill level before throwing more powerful opponents or obstacles at the player.

Competitive Elements - Leaderboards, Ladders and Tournaments

Adding a competitive element lends credibility and enhanced "stickiness" to a game/offering.

Leaderboards are a "highest scores" type proposition; usually they show the "best" score for a player ranked against all other players.  However a clever engagement method is to allow players to form their own leaderboards.  This encourages cross-player marketing and often leads to greatly enhanced stickiness and increased response to social media (and other) marketing campaigns.

Ladders are a more competitive form allowing ranking of players and encouraging re-play/stickiness by the factor of "decay" (a way of reducing a player's score against others over time - thus no playing automatically reduces a player's ranking and encourages them to play).

Other tournaments can also help (see the esports element as that provides a better explanation).

How can I use these mechanisms?

There's roughly two approaches: utilise existing services like GameSparks or PlayFab for the gaming element and enhance with a tournament platform should you require ladders and/or tournament functionality or build from the ground up. 

Game-services-in-a-box / Game SaaS (PlayFab/GameSparks) will provide badges, currency, levels and leaderboards straight out of the box.  So they're really useful even if it's just to get started.  

At Code Wizards we've done both.. quite a few times!  We're happy to help you understand your requirements so get in touch.


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