7 Persuasion principles applied to Mobile Games

As we all know, the mobile gaming companies use psychology to hook players and make the big $$$. I am sure that you know some of the principles they use, but it is always interesting to see them in action with some examples.

Let me be honest with you.

I'm not a psychologist, neither a developer.

I'm a marketer trying to understand the principles behind the actions of the human beings.

When you are designing a mobile game, the development and the marketing overlap. A lot.

When you are trying to create a game, you need to use persuasion principles and applied them to your mobile games.

What kind of principles?

In today's case, Persuasion.

Persuasion is the science that investigates the factors that influence you to say Yes.

As you can imagine, any good marketer needs to check the science of persuasion to increase the metrics of the game.

The interesting thing is that there are 6 shortcuts that help people say yes more often, and you can use them too.

These 6 shortcuts are detailed in Influence by Robert Cialdini, this book is a must have to every marketer, designer or PM.

Let's analyze each of them so you can increase the $$ that your game makes.

1.Reciprocity to create obligation

The principle of Reciprocity says that you feel more obligated to give when you have previously received.

Let me put you two examples:

Have you ever feel obligated to invite somebody to a party because they have previously invited you?

The last time you ask for the bill at a restaurant, did they attach to the bill a gift in the form of candy?

Persuasion principles applied to Mobile Games

I am sure that you have experienced both cases, in the second scenario, there are even studies that show an increase on the tip from those customers that received a candy.


How can you use this principle for your game?

What about that time when you received some extra lives on Candy Crush?

Or do you remember when you were playing Clash Royale and when you joined a clan, you received immediately a card that you needed?

On those examples, you will feel more obligated to say yes the next time somebody asks you to performance and activity in the game.

You can use this principle to your advantage.

2.Scarcity to create fear of missing out

The scarcity principle says that people wants to buy more of the thing there are less of.

Everybody has seen an advertisement that said, only 50 LEDTV units available for reduced prize until today.

Well, guess what?

It works.

This principle has been used by every industry, and video games use it in many ways.

For example, in Dan The Man , there is and Ad at the beginning of the game.

Persuasion principles applied to Mobile Games










As you can see, they use Limited Offer with a timer, in case you want that awesome ninja rebel suit, you better buy it now before it's too late.

Another incredible example is Pokemon Go.

People going crazy because some said that a rare Pokemon is showing up nearby.

Of course, nobody wants to miss it, and that's why everybody runs...

The main principle behind this is that people are afraid to lose the opportunity to get it and that's why you see thousands of people running to catch a Pokemon.

Limited offer instills a belief of scarcity.

3.Authority to create credibility

The authority principle says that people will follow the lead of credible knowledgeable experts.

It is proved that people will take more seriously the advice of someone who has the credibility than some who doesn't.

As an example, I am a huge fan of Gary Vaynerchuck, I trust his advice regards business because the guy has built two companies to 50+ millions $ of revenue per year.

Think about it, you will be more likely to say yes to somebody that is an expert on the materia.

In the case of video games.

When you see the huge amount of people that is watching PewDiePie involves some sort of credibility as a creator of content.

Persuasion principles applied to Mobile Games

That's why every studio now is trying to contact this youtube starts, they represent the authority on the subject for their following, and if they recommend a game to their audience, they will be more likely to check it out.

One of the best examples is the recently launched game PewDiePie's Tuber Simulator, the game has more than 11M download in the first month.

4.Consistency to increase commitment

Small commitments first will help lead to a bigger commitment later on.

Imagine that you see a lady trying to carry a bag of groceries, she asked you for help to carry them across the street, and of course, you accept.

After you carry the groceries across the street, she asked you to carry the groceries to the 5th floor where she lives.

The truth is that saying yes for the first time, you are much more likely to say yes on the second time.

This is especially important on mobile games when you are doing the onboarding of the new players.

You can't start to ask for all the permission possible at the beginning, but the best way is to create a safety route where the players feel comfortable making a little commitment, so you can ask them later for the bigger one.

You will increase the chances of getting a yes substantially.

5.Liking to overcome doubt

There are three main factors involving the principle of linking, each of those can be found in mobile games.

We like people who are similar to us

What kind of feeling do you have when you are playing Pokemon Go?

Persuasion principles applied to Mobile Games


You find yourself being the actual character on the screen, you identify with him/her, and you feel like the experience is awesome because in some way you are the protagonist.

We like people who pay us compliments

A quick run on the Clash Royale Tutorial, and suddenly you have the opponent telling you how great you are.

Persuasion principles applied to Mobile Games

We like people who cooperate with us

As you can see, in Candy Crash the guy who is with us in the tutorial, is actually cooperating with us by showing exactly the movement that we have to do.

Persuasion principles applied to Mobile Games


6.Social Proof to validate your actions

This principle says that people will look to the actions of others to determinate their own.

Persuasion principles applied to Mobile Games

The woman in black automatically lay down because everybody laid down.

In mobile games, there are many forms of social proof, one of the most powerful ones is reviews.

Persuasion principles applied to Mobile Games

It is the easiest way to know the opinion of the people about the game.

Another different type of social proof is data/numbers.

When you see 30 million of people giving a review, that's a lot of people...Persuasion principles applied to Mobile Games Conclusion

Using this shortcuts to increase the metrics of your game is not easy.


Create features to persuade your players can increase your revenue exponentially.

And now, you know the basic principles to do it.

Put them on action and send me an email!

What is the best use of these principles that you have seen applied to a video game? 

Latest Jobs

IO Interactive

Hybrid (Malmö, Sweden)
Gameplay Director (Project Fantasy)

Arizona State University

Los Angeles, CA, USA
Assistant Professor of XR Technologies

IO Interactive

Hybrid (Copenhagen, Denmark)
Animation Tech Programmer

Purdue University

West Lafayette, IN, USA
Assistant Professor in Game Design and Development
More Jobs   


Explore the
Advertise with
Follow us

Game Developer Job Board

Game Developer


Explore the

Game Developer Job Board

Browse open positions across the game industry or recruit new talent for your studio

Advertise with

Game Developer

Engage game professionals and drive sales using an array of Game Developer media solutions to meet your objectives.

Learn More
Follow us


Follow us @gamedevdotcom to stay up-to-date with the latest news & insider information about events & more