What Makes A Mobile Game Great? The Psychology Behind It


Why does a game like Angry Birds take off and get worldwide popularity when others fail to take off? Some games seem to have what it takes on paper but just never get accepted.

Believe it or not, there is a psychology behind why these things happen that people are trying to understand. If they crack the code, then there will be a formula that almost guarantees success as long as other factors are also adhered to.

Time killer mobile games all seem to be the same, and many are just iterations of each other, but the ones that truly do well are the ones that understand the reasons why people want to play.

In this article, I will go over several things to keep in mind about the psychology of mobile games so you can create a winner. Then once you have your game fleshed out, just follow a game marketing guide to make money with it.

Cognitive Flow

What Makes A Mobile Game Great? The Psychology Behind ItFlow is something of a buzzword these days. It is even used as a question in personality evaluations when companies are in the hiring process by asking if they have ever experienced flow.

Basically, it means if you become unaware of what is happening around you because you are absorbed in a task at hand. It could be a conversation, it could be a book that you can’t put down or in this case, it is a video game that you find challenging yet are breezing through.

Developers can make the game easy enough for a player to play well and continue advancing, yet it has to also be challenging enough to hold the player’s attention.

If a game is too easy, it just gets boring. What a developer can do is to make it seem like it’s challenging by adding points of drama or confusion at certain times when it would start to feel too easy. The player then has to overcome the challenge to continue on and feel this flow so they get absorbed into beating this game.

It is an easy psychological trick that keeps people coming back for more if they lose.

To make money off of the cognitive flow, the developer should allow the player to continue the cognitive flow until they meet up against a tough boss at the end of the stage. Or, in the case of a casino game, to run out of coins at an inopportune moment.

When they meet the boss or run out of coins, they are likely to make an in-app purchase to continue the game to keep those juices flowing that makes them feel good for being good at a game.

Positive Reinforcement

Just like it feels good to receive praise for a job well done at work, players like to be rewarded for doing something special within the game. Health tokens or a new weapon to beat a tough boss or something similar is a good way to give some positive reinforcement for a player.

When they get these rewards, it triggers a response in them to keep playing not just to get more stuff, but to have their feeling of accomplishment validated. This feels good on a primal level and will keep the player happy.


What Makes A Mobile Game Great? The Psychology Behind ItA mobile app game is not supposed to be like a game you would play on your PC or gaming device. It is meant to kill some time and serve as a distraction.

This means that the game has to be very simple. The graphics should not be too complicated and the plot shouldn’t be hard to figure out. It should only take a few minutes to figure out how to play and what the objective is.


Even though there will be a lot of in-game achievements to unlock that are much easier than the player realizes, they need to feel that they did it themselves. It relates also to a feeling of self-determination. They won by their own skill and guile.

If you also allow for in-game sharing, then people will be happy to share their results with others to show how well they performed. This is a key feature so people can get a thrill out of doing it themselves even if it isn’t actually the case.


This is the exact formula to create a successful game that should be adhered to. With this in mind, you can create a game around this template that should have people glued to their phones and make you loads of money!

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