Endgame: The Final Phase for Experience Design
The Endgame is the 4th and final experience phase of Octalysis Gamification. The Endgame is all about how you retain your veterans and obtain more longevity in your experience.
This is the phase where users have done everything there is to do at least once (according to their perception), and they are figuring out why should they stick around and continue to play the game (especially when there are newer more exciting alternatives out there).
Many have said that, in World of Warcraft, the real game starts when your character has reached the max level. This is not intuitive for non-gamers, because the basic assumption is that once you reach the max level, there is nowhere to go. In the case of well designed games, that actually is the beginning of a multi-year journey.
Unfortunately, not many companies design for the Endgame, which I believe is a huge mistake. Your veterans are usually your best monetization vehicles, your best community moderators, and also your best evangelists.
The problem is that they have been there as long as they can remember, so why should they still continue to stay on board? Have you designed anything that specifically keeps them engaged and motivated?
The game-term Endgame
Often times there is a misunderstanding towards the term “Endgame.”
Some people think that this means the game is about to end, and ask, “What about games that are meant to last forever such as infinite games?”
In reality, in the gaming world the term Endgame is not where the game ends. The Endgame is where a user has reached the highest level and is transitioning from the basic day-to-day scaffolding mechanics to a new set of mechanics that only advanced level players can infinitely do.
The Endgame is about endless fun
In Plants Vs Zombies, once you finish all the levels twice, the Endgame is about custom challenges that you can unlock and conquer. In the Diablo series, it’s “Diablo Runs” where players band together to defeat the final boss multiple times a day in order to get enough loot to perfect their gear. In FarmVille, it might be using all your gold and plants to create masterful artwork and take a screenshot before they all wither out.
Gamers would sometimes complain in many games that the game developers need to do more work because there’s really nothing to do in the Endgame, which means they have done everything but long for more. Some games may have the general journey (Scaffolding) of striving towards the max level, and the endgame lies in player versus player battles, or Group Quests of Max Level Players taking on extremely difficult challenges.
Differences to other Models
My terminology is also different from other gamification professionals’ last phase of a player’s journey. Kevin Werbach and Amy Jo Kim call the final phase of the journey “Mastery,” as the player has now achieved the highest level of play.
While I think the phrase Mastery is accurate, I believe that the term “Mastery” creates a feeling that it is actually the end of the journey – you have achieved mastery and are looking for something else to master now. With “Endgame,” it is still a “game” you play and try to master. It suggests that the journey keeps going.
So let’s examine how the endgame can be more engaging based on the 8 Core Drives of Octalysis
Core Drive 1: Epic meaning and Calling in the Endgame
During the end game it becomes much more difficult to install more Epic Meaning and Calling into the process. Continue reading