Invested / Endowed Value

Having already spent time and money to improve your status in the game, it's difficult to throw it away.

Game developers like to make you feel that the more you play, the more valuable your copy of the game becomes. If deleting the game and starting over from scratch sounds like a horrible idea and a waste of your investment, then the game has Endowed Value for you. The more time and money that you invest in the game, the more value it has over a fresh copy of the game.

Game developers usually accomplish this with a leveling system where you or your character get more powerful as you play. You may collect rare and valuable items or spend significant time collecting or building something that you don't want to throw away. You may have also earned or purchased cosmetic items that don't affect the gameplay, but make the game more personal to you. By customizing the game to be more personal, it feels more valuable.

Additionally, for games that require skill, the more time you play the more skilled you will become. This sense of acquired skill is important to people. It makes players feel good that they have increased their skill and it's difficult to stop an activity in which you are skilled.

The reason this works to the game developer's advantage is the "Sunk Cost Fallacy". This is often described as throwing good money after bad. The idea is that any time and money already spent on the game is attributed to the value of that game. If you spend $10 on a game, you may feel like the game is still worth $10 and it would be unwise to throw away something worth $10. And if you've already spent $10, what's another $2?

Likewise, if you invest 20 hours building a character inside a game, that 20 hours may have some value to you. You wouldn't spend 20 hours writing a book just to burn it, so why invest 20 hours into a game and then stop playing.

People have a strong aversion to loss. Most people would rather not lose $5 than to earn $5. When players feel like a game has some endowed value, it is difficult to stop playing and throw that away. It's this type of logic that keeps people playing the game even when it is no longer enjoyable.


Examples

Secret Cat Forest Secret Cat Forest
"Customizable elements make it harder to let go."

Kittens Game Kittens Game
"Yes but that's more bc by nature it's an incremental game"

Bloons TD 6 Bloons TD 6
"Achievements, unlocked towers and upgrades, medals, level, etc."

Phase 10: World Tour Phase 10: World Tour
"The level of 'progress' made is treated like it has tangible value."

Immortal Diaries Immortal Diaries
"VIP levels, and the amount of time and effort it takes to get certain clothing and get past levels"

Best Fiends - Puzzle Adventure Best Fiends - Puzzle Adventure
"Sort of...you have your personally selected group of "fiends"- the spelling/usage of that is not unintentional"

Eternal Card Game Eternal Card Game
"I have a near fully completed collection which would cost a large amount of time or money to accrue."

AFK Arena AFK Arena
"While servers exist which change how new players interact compared to older servers, there is always heroes you've missed out on"

KINGDOM HEARTS Union χ[Cross] KINGDOM HEARTS Union χ[Cross]
"DARK ROAD ONLY: You decide when and how to spend your earned coins to buy upgrades."

MEGA MAN X DiVE - MOBILE MEGA MAN X DiVE - MOBILE
"An account with a lot of investment put into it with 5* characters and weapons is a lot more valuable than a casual account."