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.


ExoMiner - Idle Miner Adventure ExoMiner - Idle Miner Adventure
"All of the value is in the time spent in the game and time from the initial install"

Tiny Tower Tiny Tower
"I've been playing for years -- these dark patterns have only increased in the last three years -- but my long-term investment in time and energy, as well as money and "buddies", keeps me thinking I'll lose a lot if I stop playing."

Crossy Road Crossy Road
"If you have many characters unlocked, despite not adding anything but cosmetics it still feels like an accomplishment"

War and Order War and Order
"Higher level castles and building are more valuable and powerful"

Little Alchemist Little Alchemist
"Research takes time, free to play can take months to reach a point where your deck is usable at higher levels."

"I don't really understand this question. I feel like this is true for other non-moble games, especially infinite sandbox games like No Mans Sky or Minecraft"

Cookie Run: Kingdom Cookie Run: Kingdom
"yeah, but its moreso the opposite. ugh."

Alto's Odyssey Alto's Odyssey
"There are other characters you unlock and upgrades you buy."

Stardew Valley Stardew Valley
"A farm with many amenities and cooler animals takes time investment to build"

Able Black Able Black
"Certain features (such as a minigame accessible from the main menu) are unlocked by completing achievements."