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The Fake Spin Limit in Social Casino Games

Here is my designer’s point of view on this.

Franck Fitrzyk, Blogger

September 20, 2023

2 Min Read

Have you played Social Casino Games on mobile? Yes? So, you’ve probably noticed all those games (Coin Master, Monopoly Go, Board Kings & co) have a gauge to display the amount of spins (or dice rolls) the player has at a given moment as out of a total of Z (/50 for example).

It's shown as X/Z on a gauge below the spin input button. However, the total number of spins a player can have exceeds Z. These additional spins are displayed beneath the gauge in the format: +Y, with Y representing the count beyond the base Z spins. This maximum of /Z never changes throughout the game. Consequently, players almost always feel like they have more spins than they should.

This fake max amount seems to evolve through the progression of the player but that progression is very slow.

So there must be a design reason behind that. Here is my designer’s point of view on this.

Note: This could actually be completely wrong! ahah 

Social Casino Games appears to leverage several psychological triggers to encourage players to continue playing and to perceive the game's generosity. Here are some potential psychological reasons behind this specific design:

  • Cognitive Anchor. The amount Z serves as an anchor. No matter how many additional spins the player earns, they will always relate it to this reference number of Z. This anchor makes the +Y additional spins always impressive, regardless of their quantity.

Anything beyond Z is perceived as a bonus or an excess, making these extra spins seem more valuable in the player's mind.

  • Law of Contrast. Merely having a constant number (Z) next to a variable one (+Y) creates a contrast that draws attention. The player is constantly reminded of the "extra" reward they've received, making it more memorable.

  • Unexpected Reward. Neuroscience has shown that our brain releases more dopamine when we receive an unexpected reward. Continually perceiving these extra spins as a bonus can stimulate this dopamine release, enhancing the feeling of pleasure and accomplishment.

  • Satisfaction from Surplus. Feeling like you have more than you're supposed to can give the player a sense of achievement, of being privileged, lucky. It's like getting more than what you paid for in a store.

  • Behavior Reinforcement. By consistently showing players that they have more spins than they're supposed to, it might encourage them to keep playing or to perform certain actions hoping to get even more bonus spins. Spins are the fuel to progress.

Once players have these extra spins, they might feel obligated to use them since they don't want to "waste" what they perceive as a bonus. When you get under that displayed X limit, that’s where you actually start to think about ending the ongoing play session.

What do you think about this? Do you have another idea/design reason for those rules?

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