Infinite Treadmill

Impossible to win or complete the game.

Many great games can be completed. You beat the final boss, the game is over and you get a feeling of satisfaction. A game with an Infinite Treadmill cannot be completed and never gives you that sense of satisfaction. You can play forever, constantly leveling up and improving, but never reaching the end. This is a very common pattern seen in multiplayer online games, and many people enjoy these types of games. However, for some people this can be a dark pattern, especially when combined with Recurring Fees or other types of In-App Purchases.

People have a psychological need to complete something that they have started. This is called Endowed Progress or the "Zeigarnik effect". The urge to complete something that can't be completed causes some people to play the game forever, even after they have become bored with the game.

Sometimes games are designed such that there is no way to complete them. You may beat an individual level, but you can play an infinite number of levels and keep earning benefits forever. For a game to fall into this category there must be some overarching progression that extends beyond individual levels. For example, a simple game of chess against the computer would not count as an Infinite Treadmill unless winning or losing an individual match had some reward or repercussion that carried over into the future matches. Many multiplayer combat games are designed like this. You can always start a new battle, and your success allows you to improve your character in future battles.

Another way that developers implement an Infinite Treadmill is by continually expanding the game and adding new content. It might be possible to complete everything in the game right now, but soon the developers will release new levels and extend the game. As long as the developers are still working on the game, new content will continually be added and the players will need to keep playing the game if they want to complete it. Nobody is saying that you have to complete it, but the Fear of Missing Out is a strong motivation to keep playing to see what happens.

Additionally, if someone is already bored with a game and a new event is announced, the player may stick around to see if the new event rekindles their enjoyment in the game in which they have already invested significant time and money.


Drifto Drifto
"While the game has a finite amount of content (there are 24 cars and 6 areas), the gameplay itself is never-ending."

Fishdom Fishdom
"I am not 100% sure but it seems pretty never ending, i got to near level 2000 but saw people on level 10,000+. however that said you do get the satisfaction of finisihing a fish bowl, but then you have new ones to decorate/fill up."

Cookie Run: Kingdom Cookie Run: Kingdom
"the game is polished, but not complete. the story is still being created."

"New seasons every month or so with different story and new demons, vast amount of quests"

Warhammer 40,000: Tacticus Warhammer 40,000: Tacticus
"takes more than a year to finish grinding just the free starting characters, roster has expanded by over 30 characters since. no feasible way to finish grinding without spending thousands of dollars on RNG pulls"

Stardew Valley Stardew Valley
"It has a contained story, technically you could play forever but why would you?? I'm putting Yes but mean Yes (No). Like would you consider minecraft to be an infinite treadmill? thats like Stardew"

SortPuz: 3D Color Water Sort Puzzle SortPuz: 3D Color Water Sort Puzzle
"As far as I can tell, the game has no end."

Infinite Galaxy Infinite Galaxy
"Give me that sweet sweet singular energy now starting at lvl 30"

Figure Fantasy Figure Fantasy
"The game adopted the policy of editing or removing parts of modes that assists growth (The big three +UP floor) Putting last years seasons adorment all in one box to RNG pull from, used to be 4 boxes each with 12 type of adorments that you have to pull same type to lvl up and ones you happen to get what you want you could ignore some of those boxes , now it's 48 type of adorments in one box to pull from with only 40% less price, too far from being fair when considering the odds."

Tiny Tower Tiny Tower
"There is no end to this game. The small "wins" are meaningless, but you keep playing anyway."