People love discounts on both physical and digital products, and gamers are no exception. So how do they work from a psychological perspective and why do people sometimes want to buy even games they don’t really need?

Game discounts: psychological aspect

For the latest episode of its newsletter, GameDiscoverCo spoke to The Psycologoy of Games creator and author Jamie Madigan about his recent podcast where he analyzed the psychology behind digital sales.

  • Discounts enable irrational attitudes among gamers, making them “find value in bargain hunting” and want to buy products at the last opportunity;
  • Limited-time offers create artificial scarcity and encourage players to buy something that can be considered “rare” (even if it is actually not);
  • Publishers anchor players to the first number they see in a discount pitch to “raise your estimate of how much something is worth or how big a discount is”;
  • Wishlists and pre-orders work as a promise or pre-commitment that makes players feel like they should buy a wishlisted game, especially when Steam regularly reminds them about it (via launch or discount notifications);
  • Consumers tend to overvalue products when they think that chances to buy them vanish in front of their eyes (“the most obvious examples of these are the Steam front page ‘Midweek Madness’ and ‘Daily Deal’ sales, which list an exact time and date they end at”).

Publishers and platform holders know that these patterns exist and how they affect consumer behavior, so this results in players sometimes seeing their backlogs grow to the point where they won’t be able to play all games from their libraries. As GameDiscoverCo pointed out, these principles also apply to games-as-a-service, which often sell in-game currency in bundles and launch limited-time premium offers.

More information, including on the impact of surprise value, can be found in the full post.

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