Illusion of Control

The game cheats or hides information to make you think you're better than you actually are.

Games may make you think that you are getting better and better, when in reality you are just unlocking better tools inside the game. Perhaps the game doesn't even have a component of skill at all and it just makes you feel like you have some amount control over the outcome. If a game is doing this, it is trying to make you feel like your apparent skill is greater than your actual skill.

For example, a claw machine doesn't always grab at full force, it cheats and makes it impossible to grab an item until it decides it's time to give a prize. This makes you feel like you did a good job at aiming the claw and that you are getting better, even though it's random chance.

Another way that games manipulate information to make you feel more skilled than you actually are is by grouping players into isolated worlds. These are sometimes called "shards". In a competitive game with a single leaderboard, it would be very discouraging to have a rank of 124,204. Instead, what games do is they break people up into tiny groups or shards. Maybe only a few thousand people per shard, and you only compete with those people. Your rank may be 283 which sounds a lot better. Being the 283rd best player in the world is pretty encouraging, but the game doesn't tell you that you are only competing against a small percentage of the players. This makes you feel like you are more skilled than you actually are.

Games may also randomize the difficulty of the game to make it more interesting. This is why you may get an easy level immediately following a difficult level. If the difficulty secretly becomes easier, you may feel like your skill has increased when it really hasn't and this feeling of control may get you to play the game more often.
Citations and SourcesWikipedia :: Illusion of control


Subway Surfers Subway Surfers
"The game constantly has a counter in the corner that shows how far you've run compared to someone else, and every time you beat one person another pops up. It can make you feel forced to continue if you're only a few hundred meters off from beating someone."

Mario Kart Tour Mario Kart Tour
"The difficulty of bots can vary: Those with badges in the player list can use 2 items per item box, while ones without badges can only use 1. Typically, badgeless bots show up in large numbers after making many attempts on a single course."

Phase 10: World Tour Phase 10: World Tour
"There is no truly unbiased hand of cards. They're skewed based on progress, and the only way to 'win' those is to predict them and minimize the cost of losing."

Immortal Diaries Immortal Diaries
"Some levels require less energy than the ones immediately before them"

Best Fiends - Puzzle Adventure Best Fiends - Puzzle Adventure
""Random" matching ratios improve when using ad-based power-ups, OR when you've taken a break from the game for a while. You can magically solve a hard level you've been stuck on by quitting and logging back in 8 hours later. All of a sudden you instantly pass the level you took 20 tries at the night before."

"The star level minigame is rigged for new players, I got to test it with a new save file. A new player can get a character's 5 stars in 3 games, a long time player does it in one game at the same skill level."

Game of Thrones: Conquest™ Game of Thrones: Conquest™
"I guess in a way, if you're some of those who have paid to get the latest, strongest items."

Sliding Seas Sliding Seas
"Boards are completely randomized, and sometimes unwinnable."

Solitaire Solitaire
"In the PvP solitaire games, I always solve the deck much faster than my opponent. I suspect there is some faking or manipulation involved there."

Garena Free Fire: Rampage Garena Free Fire: Rampage
"In game bots"