Fear of Missing Out

If you stop playing you'll miss out on something or be left behind and unable to catch up.

Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO) is an anxiety that occurs when you worry about missing something exciting or important. In games, this can happen when there are timed events. If the event gives a special participation reward, then this anxiety can be heightened. If the player misses the event, not only will they miss the excitement of the new experience, but they will also miss the special reward. If the reward provides a benefit to the game, then the player will be behind everyone else and it will be difficult to catch up.

This anxiety can drive people to play the game at times when they wouldn't otherwise. It may even keep them playing a game long past when they derive enjoyment out of it. For example, a player who has lost interest in a game may see the announcement for the next event and think to themselves that maybe this new event will make the game interesting again.

Many online games are under continual development with new content and updates being added all the time, so there is a constant trickle of new things that players are at risk of missing if they take a break from the game. This is a strong motivator to keep playing. Often these types of timed events provide an incentive to spend money on the game in order to fully take advantage of the event. This enriches the game developers at the expense of the players who may be playing for reasons other than enjoyment.


Examples

Cat Game - The Cats Collector! Cat Game - The Cats Collector!
"They constantly have events and things going on to encourage you to continue playing consistently."

Mortal Kombat Mortal Kombat
"Limited time events occur regularly, usually offering a gold character for free. If a player cannot complete all parts of the event, they miss out on the character reward."

World of Tanks Blitz MMO World of Tanks Blitz MMO
"You'll miss frequent events for premium tanks (that are really hard to get anyway). New OP tank lines are released frequently and the first ones to unloch them wreck havoc in their tiers."

MARVEL Strike Force MARVEL Strike Force
"Game encourages players to raid or war daily. If you do not partake in these events you risk potentially getting lesser rewards or kicked from the your alliance (guild) for not participating in the daily grind."

Walking Dead: Road to Survival Walking Dead: Road to Survival
"Wars especially mean you have to blankly stare at your screen for a 48 hour window. Some factions have shifts you have to play so that enough people sign up."

Hay Day Hay Day
"Yes, taking a break from the game can slow your progression down"

Pokémon Rumble Rush Pokémon Rumble Rush
"Gameplay revolves around two week events with limited-time resources that can practically never be obtained outside of that window"

Fate/Grand Order (English) Fate/Grand Order (English)
"Events are limited time and reruns typically only happen once per event"

Pokémon GO Pokémon GO
"Nearly every event features FOMO in some fashion to the point where veteran players wait months or years before making decisions to avoid missing out"

Hearthstone Hearthstone
"The game really does move fairly quickly. If you take six months or a year off, odds are that you will be so far behind you won't really be able to catch up. Every expansion (and there's one every 3 or 4 months) adds a bunch of new cards, a few new mechanics, etc. Which is great; if you are actively playing the game. If you are taking a break, you'll come back afterward and just . . . not know the game anymore."