For decades, gaming leverages human psychology to motivate user behavior. Players can spend hours on a single game and enter a state of flow more easily than in other fields. This is no accident because games are designed using neuroscience and neuromarketing tools and concepts to analyze consumer behavior and determine how a person will respond to various (marketing) factors to ensure maximum engagement and drive sales.
Neuroscience Concepts used in Gaming
Based on the key neuroscience concepts, cognitive load, search and attention, and branding, iGaming companies and casinos use several tools to design and develop gaming sites and platforms which attract a large number of players and maximize spending to ensure players will come back to play again.
The cognitive load refers to the amount of information people are processing at any one time. Cognitive load is connected to working memory, thus the more information in the short-term memory, the higher the cognitive load. Consequently, as the cognitive load increases, consumers’ ability to make purchasing decisions decreases.
That is why it is important to manage consumers’ cognitive load proactively and lower the number of choices or features. One clear implication is creating simpler UI/UX that lowers the cognitive loads, thus yields better engagement.
Another important factor in product design and creation is the underlying product mechanics. Slot machines are a great example here for proving why a simple game can be very popular for a very long time. The game mechanics of slot machines create the lowest cognitive load for players. This game provides entertainment without using too much (mental) energy.
Search and Attention
Another very powerful application of neuromarketing is based on a consumers’ search process and the selection they make afterward. There are two types of search, driven by different parts of the brain.
Bottom-up search, where a person makes an unconscious decision because something grabbed their attention. This search is generally driven by color, contrast, shape or density, and the persons usually end up buying something unplanned. The other type is top-down search where a person is looking for something specific and makes a more conscious decision.
When creating a gaming platform or online casino site it is important to determine the type of search your consumers will conduct. Then, based on your UI/UX on that insight. If you want players to engage easier — try a new game, increase their in-game time and spending — then you need to make those options stand out during a bottom-up search.
Importance of Branding
The value of branding is much debated in neuromarketing, but it shows as very important, and at times crucial for consumers making a purchasing decision. Branding helps consumers minimize the cognitive load and makes decision making easier. A familiar brand tells consumers a lot about the product (style, quality, durability, etc.), whereas an unfamiliar brand requires spending a lot of mental energy assessing that information. Thus, a familiar product will probably be chosen.
Branding also helps ease the search process, especially bottom-up search – a familiar brand is more likely to attract the consumers’ attention. Additionally, strong brands create (positive) emotions around products even before consumers consciously evaluate the product.
Influencing Players’ Behaviour
Neuromarketing is a fairly new discipline that has major implications in gaming. In combination with neuroscientific tools like reward escalation, social proof and collaboration mechanisms, iGaming sites and online casinos ‘hook’ their players to stay in the game for longer periods of time to try to out-score their opponents.
Understanding how players’ brains work and what motivates them can greatly help game designers to tailor games for better in-game experience, thus encouraging players to come to the same platform again and again. Ultimately, the cycle of playing, competing and occasionally winning, translates to better business and bigger profits for iGaming sites and online casinos.