Badges / Endowed Progress

Reluctancy to abandon a partially completed goal, even one forced upon the player.

When games give you achievements or badges for arbitrary accomplishments in a game they are trying to give you a sense of Endowed Progress. There is something called the "Zeigarnik Effect" which states that people are more likely to remember an uncompleted task, than one they have finished. In other words, people have a hard time abandoning a goal, even an artificial goal that the game gives you for no other purpose.

When you see something in a game like, "Defeat 20 enemies to unlock this achievement", the game is giving you an artificial goal and trying to get your brain to put that on its internal to-do list of tasks it needs to finish. These unfinished tasks nag you and make you want to play the game to finish them. Of course, there will always be another goal to replace the one you just finished.

The little red notification dot that you sometimes see in games is another form of this. It's the game trying to tell you that you have something you need to do. If you've ever encountered a red dot that you couldn't make go away, you may know how frustrating it can be to have an uncompleted goal sitting there in the back of your mind.

If these uncompleted goals require grinding or waiting in order to complete them, it can make you spend more time on the game that you would have if you just played the game for the enjoyment of it. Additionally, if you can complete the goals quicker by paying to skip them, then some people will spend money on artificial achievements that the game puts in place outside of the normal gameplay.

Achievements and badges aren't necessarily a dark pattern. They can be used as a tutorial or training on how to play the game, but when you see achievements that take months to accomplish (collect 10,000 items) then its likely that the game developers are using this dark pattern to give you a sense of obligation to finish a goal.


Examples

Mortal Kombat Mortal Kombat
"Each character has a series of achievements that unlock attribute bonuses as well as cosmetic rewards such as victory poses, audio taunts, and player banner items."

World of Tanks Blitz MMO World of Tanks Blitz MMO
"You get badges for almost anything in this game."

Walking Dead: Road to Survival Walking Dead: Road to Survival
"Titles and badges exist. Also, leagues keep track of previous ranking as well as war records for a faction."

Roblox Roblox
"As Rōblox is a platform of games (rather than a single game in itself), developers are allowed to implement badges."

Archero Archero
"You get rewarded after reaching certain levels, but the rewards aren't all that great"

Hay Day Hay Day
"Yes, but not a lot of them."

Command & Conquer™: Rivals PVP Command & Conquer™: Rivals PVP
"Small Market-hosted achievements."

Hearthstone Hearthstone
"I mean, there's a whole ranked ladder system, which I guess is kind of arbitrary. But since the game is competitive . . . I mean, they have to keep track of this stuff somehow."

Neko Atsume: Kitty Collector Neko Atsume: Kitty Collector
"Ultimately, the game is built around collecting mementos."

Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp
"Much of the game is built around completing limited time goals or achievements."