Understanding Game Design: Daily Rewards

Almost every mobile game I see offers a daily reward of some sort.  Whether it be a form of currency or an in-game product for temporary or permanent use, a daily reward seems to be a common occurrence for most games.  There have been a few variances between the forms of daily rewards offered, so let’s look at the various kinds of setups:

When to Offer

Once a day – this is the most common setup; a user can get a daily reward just by logging into the game, but only once per day. The perk screen would appear the next day the user logged in. Sometimes, these types of perks had to be collected everyday, or the streak was lost. We’ll discuss that later.
Exactly 24 Hours – This is a setup that’s also been used; at exactly the 24 hour mark, the perk will become available. A countdown timer is usually displayed to let the user know how long to wait.

An important decision point here is whether missing a day breaks the streak. That may make sense for the once a day perk, but may not make sense for the exactly 24 hours perk.

How to Offer

Randomization – A random reward is chosen and given to the user. A common method of displaying the chosen perk is by a spinning wheel (similar to Wheel of Fortune or the Price is Right).
5 Day Reward System – A common setup is a 5 day reward system. Rewards can either progress up to include better prizes. They may also offer the same prize; on completion of the fifth day, a bigger reward is usually granted. Missing one day often causes this reward system to reset back to zero.
5 Day Sliding Reward System – I only saw this in one game, but thought it was interesting. The game offered a 5 day reward system. At specific intervals (which for larger inventory items may occur at day 50, or smaller inventory items at day 20/25), would offer a powerful item the user typically wanted.
Continual Day Reward System – This reward system contains a reward system with a large number of days, building up to something epic if the user is committed to the game. Missing a day may or may not break the streak (which breaking the streak would cause the system to reset).

What to Offer

The most common offering is in-game currency. Usually, it’s the primary currency offered by the game; the daily reward helps the user obtain currency quicker by being committed to the game. As the game progresses, additional forms of currency may become available (we’ll be talking about currency in another post). At the end of a 5 day reward system, the game may offer an item used within the game.

Some Examples

Let’s look at some game examples:

Subway Surfer – Upon spelling a word by collecting letters in the game, the user gets a certain amount of coins in the game. Every day the reward is collected, more money is achieved. Upon completing the 5 day challenge, the last prize is a Mystery Box.
Despicable Me: Minion Rush (older version) – Before they changed it to the current reward system, the previous version offered a 5 day reward system that could be collected once certain in-game achievements were completed. For the first 4 days, random achievements were earned. On day 5, a puzzle piece could be claimed. Puzzle pieces were used to unlock characters. If one day was missed, the process would start over again.
Temple Run 2 – Upon completing in game achievements, rewards are earned. There are 5 days, and the reward increases every day.
Candy Crush Saga – A daily challenge wheel appears and offers a daily prize.
Spy Wars – In game currency is earned by logging in every day. Additionally, a secondary currency is earned if the user logs in with Facebook. The reward system continues up in the amount of money earned, and eventually resets. Breaks in days do not reset the reward.
Punch Hero – A continual reward system that is offered at exactly 24 hours. Nothing in the game needs to be completed to receive it. A break in the day does not break the streak; however, the maximum prize offered is only available if collected within the month.

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