Week 2/3: Overjustification Effect and Motivation

Cover Image:  http://www.usgamer.net/articles/infinite-dungeons-infinite-death-tales-of-majeyal-pc-review

Jamie Madigan’s article:  The Overjustification Effect and Game Achievements 


Intrinsic motivation can be defined as an innate drive to pursue activities that are ‘rewarding in and of themselves’ (Zichermann, 2011).  Players that enjoy the artistic and aesthetic experiences of games do so purely out of their intrinsic motivation (Bateman, 2012), however, relying solely on intrinsic motivation may prevent the player from remaining as engaged as they may be if extrinsic motivation factors were introduced through structured play (Bateman, 2012).

Extrinsic motivation, created through the inclusion of external rewards such as achievements and trophies, push the player towards goals set by the developers (Zichermann, 2011).  Tales of Maj’Eyal provides players with the opportunity to obtain 1,225 achievements, making it the game with the highest number of achievements on Steam (Williams, 2013).  Achievements within a game satisfy the natural human desire for a feeling of accomplishment (Lane, 2011), therefore games like Tales of Maj’Eyal with their constant supply achievements allow players to be subconsciously persuaded to continue playing to gain further satisfaction (Lane, 2011).

The overjustification effect occurs when the player’s intrinsic motivation is reduced due to situations where an ‘explicit incentive’ is offered (Bateman, 2012). This effect can be seen when immense satisfaction received from gaining an achievement or trophy (Hexacoto, 2010) drives players, like completionists, to complete every task in a game (Chalk, 2008).  Having specified goals within the game increases players drive to complete them (Madigan, 2016), although it also greatly decreases the player’s intrinsic motivation as the pursuit of the next achievement becomes the players primary goal (Bateman, 2012).

Once the overjustification effect has taken place, players will abandon their intrinsic motivation and ‘move on to other things’, leading them to point where they lose interest in the game as a whole (Bateman, 2012).  This cycle of losing interest in games through the overjustification effect only works as an advantage for platform licensors where players can then be encouraged to buy new games from them where they can start the cycle again (Bateman, 2012).



Bateman, C. (2012). Does Overjustification Hurt Games?. [online] International Hobo. Available at: http://blog.ihobo.com/2012/07/does-overjustification-hurt-games.html [Accessed 16 Oct. 2016].

Chalk, A. (2008). The Psychology of Achievements. [online] The Escapist. Available at: http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/86220-The-Psychology-of-Achievements [Accessed 15 Oct. 2016].

Hexacoto. (2010). The psychology of being a completionist. [online] Available at: https://hexacoto.com/2014/01/01/the-psychology-of-being-a-completionist/ [Accessed 15 Oct. 2016].

Lane, R. (2011). Why Are You Addicted To Achievements? – IGN. [online] IGN. Available at: http://au.ign.com/articles/2011/10/10/why-are-you-addicted-to-achievements [Accessed 15 Oct. 2016].

Madigan, J. (2016). Why Do Achievements, Trophies, and Badges Work?. [online] The Psychology of Video Games. Available at: http://www.psychologyofgames.com/2016/07/why-do-achievements-trophies-and-badges-work/ [Accessed 15 Oct. 2016].

Williams, R. (2013). Need Achievements? Tales of Maj’Eyal Has 1,225 of Them. [online] Techgage. Available at: http://techgage.com/news/need-achievements-tales-of-majeyal-has-1225-of-them/ [Accessed 16 Oct. 2016].

Zichermann, G. (2011). Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation in Gamification – Gamification Co. [online] Gamification Co. Available at: http://www.gamification.co/2011/10/27/intrinsic-and-extrinsic-motivation-in-gamification/ [Accessed 15 Oct. 2016].


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