Daily Quests or Daily Pests? The Benefits and Pitfalls of Engagement Rewards in Games

Julian Frommel, Regan L. Mandryk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Many games use engagement rewards as incentives for players to engage, e.g., daily login rewards, repeatable challenges, or seasonal rewards like holiday skins. These rewards may serve players by facilitating enjoyment or motivation; however, they may also be considered differently by skeptical players, e.g., as dark patterns that do not benefit players, and may detract from-or even harm-player experiences. As they are widely prevalent in a variety of games, it is important to understand how such rewards are experienced by players to inform potential pitfalls, such as when they are negative for gaming experience or lead to unhealthy gaming behaviours. 178 participants completed a mixed-methods survey and described such rewards in games they play, the tasks required to acquire them, and their experience qualitatively and with validated scales of motivation regulation and passion orientation. We found that players perceived these rewards as beneficial (e.g., as motivation), as negative (e.g., by promoting fear of missing out), or even as an obligation or chore. Quantitative results further support the dualistic experience of such rewards. We contribute findings and design recommendations that are useful for understanding and designing widely used but potentially detrimental reward mechanics.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-23
JournalProceedings of the ACM on Human-Computer Interaction
Publication statusPublished - 25 Oct 2022


  • games
  • reward
  • daily
  • quests
  • engagement
  • motivation
  • passion
  • lootbox


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