Rewarding versus punishing

A buddy of mine had created a game that reminded me via email that “you haven’t been actively playing for 3 weeks, so your account will be closed”.

I’ve been testing some Zynga games which take completely different path: in the game, I get informed that remind me about “pick up the daily reward, check them each day”.

I mentioned this same to my friend, not sure if he is considering implementing it.

Anyway, the point is that there’s these 2 totally different approaches:

  • Punish if you don’t do what your are supposed to do (play or else we won’t let you play)
  • Reward you if you play, and they reward you more for playing more

I don’t know which way you prefer, but I definitely like the latter option more.

Juuso Hietalahti


  1. Maybe he could put active players into “Premium” leagues from where they drop to “Normal” league if they are not active ;)

  2. Oh, I’m sure he listened!

    I’m positive he still feels it is fair to re-allocate the limted number of accounts but does feel that a gentle reminder with a small incentive to “take part” is very much needed. I’m guessing that with a game like that you need to be very much involved to make the game reasonable for other more *active* players.


  3. If you play the game, you might get punished. For example, you did a bad move and you fall into a pit. Naturally… you die!

    Closing someone’s account for not playing during the last 3 weeks is a lack of respect for me. If you are busy and you do not have time, then you have the right not to play. Not playing during one year might be a reasonable delay for closing an account. If you do not use your account anymore, the developer might want to use the disk resources for other active players.

    Generally speaking, rewarding is better than punishing. It is a question of attitude. For me, what makes games fun is the rewards. As you master the skills necessary to complete the levels, you have access to new levels, weapons, spells, etc. If you fail at using them correctly, then you get punished. Normally, we should be rewarded more often than we are punished. That means that we are progressing into the game.

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