Delicious ! The sound and dance of addiction

Hey, check out this video, it’s just 3 seconds.

And I’d be surprised if you played it only once, I can’t resist playing it again and again. It is done really well, and comes from the phenomenal Candy Crush Saga, released in 2012.

The maker of Candy Crush, King, was acquired for 5.9 Billion Dollars and you already know how many gazillion people were hooked to it, including your aunt.

Numerous factors go into the design of such a successful product, but here I want to look at just one little thing – the celebrations it makes when you have victories, and I came here because of the Fogg model of behavior change. I have been studying it and observing the model around me for last few days, and regular readers have probably seen earlier posts on it (here, here and here).

First, a bit about the behavior model in this case. It says that immediately after every (preferably) small win, you should celebrate it.

After carrying through with a tiny step, participants in the online seminar are instructed to give themselves a celebratory pat on the back. That might be by saying, “Yay,” or “Victory,” for example.

The organizers admit it sounds goofy to celebrate because you managed to floss a single tooth, or do a push-up after using the bathroom (another popular recipe), but, Fogg-Phillips tells Quartz, “You’re rewriting your identity as someone who succeeds.”

Yes, you are rewriting your identity as someone who succeeds. BJ Fogg tells about it in this talk. Here are some screenshots from the talk:

Fogg - Awesome.png
BJ Fogg saying “I’m Awesome” and asking his audience to repeat it.
Crowd - awesome
The audience repeating it – well some of them

Yes, it sounds stupid and silly. Especially when you are in public and sharing knowledge with a group of people. But when you play a colorful game alone on your mobile, this solidifies your addiction. This is exactly what candy crush is doing. You get the sounds of delicious, sweet, tasty, and, wait for it… divine.

And you get them immediately after wins in the game. It also has colorful, visual cues, but the sound jumped as me I connected it to what BJ Fogg had said.

But the talk made by Fogg is more than 6 years old, the model is not really new, and anyone who has been making consumer internet products probably knows about it. In fact, now with the backlash against addictive products, it seems to have got out of fashion. Candy Crush itself isn’t so hot anymore.

But human nature does not change so fast. Candy Crush may not that be hot, but Fortnite is – it’s generating more revenue than any other free game, ever.

Image source – here

While of course the makers of Fortnite have done a truckload of things right, I could not help but connect one of the key elements of the game (dance moves) to one key element (celebration of victory) of BJ Fogg’s behavior model.

Back to the earlier video.

After asking the audience to say, “I’m awesome”, he tells them that in his habit program, some people like to do a little dance when they celebrate. And that makes them feel like, “Yeah, I am rocking it.”

Dance Fogg
“Let’s do a little dance.”

And he goes on to make the audience do it, to drive the point home.

Now, here is the connection with Fortnite. The goal in this game is simple: Kill your enemies.

The goal in “Fortnite,” as in most multiplayer shooter games, is to blow your enemies to shreds. It follows a typical “battle royale” format, where 100 players brawl until there’s only one survivor.

And if you want to become better at the ‘habit’, then it would help if you celebrate a kill, just after the kill – with a dance.

After a kill, players can dance on the body, adding a fillip of humor and split-second grace to the victory.

And man, people do love this dancing. I noticed earlier that these dances tapped into our innate desire to express ourselves, I now see that these would further strengthen the Fortnite addiction.

Unlike Candy Crush where these sounds were just there for the addiction, Fortnite dances are a revenue generating machine, both directly and indirectly. The game is free to play, but made more than 1.2 Billion dollars in revenue, and around 70% of that revenue comes from clothing and dance moves – according to this survey.

And here it sounds like pure genius. Fortnite has tapped into such deep psychological impulses that people are paying to be addicted to the game. People pay for the dance moves, which makes them play more to kill and celebrate, and then as they play better they kill more, and then, they dance more and buy new dance moves – and so on the flywheel moves.

Fortnite has tapped into such deep psychological impulses that people are paying to be addicted to the game.

Apart from the money, here is an even more revealing statistic which shows the impact of this brilliant idea:

And for 36.8% of the Fortnite spenders, this is the first video game that they have spent money for in-game purchases.

I still can’t wrap my head around how big a phenomenon this dance is. Here is a video of professional dancers trying to copy the Fortnite moves – and this video has – 35 Million views ! Check it out, it’s less than 5 minutes.

Now to be sure, celebration after defeating your enemy in battle isn’t a new idea in games. Mortal Kombat, released in 1992, let you celebrate the win with a gruesome killing move as well as the sound of ‘Fatality’.

‘Fatality’ sound and visual in Mortal Kombat. Source

Similar victory dance happens in the iconic Street Fighter.

Street Fighter
A character in Street Fighter starts the dance just after a win. Source

But I guess it’s worth repeating – Fortnite made the genius move of making the dance something people pay for. It’s a unique blend of self-expression and habit forming.

While these are all examples of consumer products, this can also be seen in at least one enterprise tool  – Asana. And it’s not just a gamification badge, but, a… flying unicorn !

Flying Unicorn in Asana. Source

Asana has four ‘Celebration Creatures’. From their blog:

Once enabled, one of our four celebration creatures (a unicorn, yeti, narwhal, or phoenix) will sometimes fly across your screen like a shooting star as you complete tasks. Celebrations are randomly generated and won’t occur each time you complete a task, but the more you complete, the more they’ll visit!

But I can’t recall more such examples in enterprise products and I smell an opportunity here.

Finally, I would like to highlight that in all the above examples, the execution has been brilliant, everything from the deep baritone of ‘Delicious’ (for which they did some experiments), to the slick design of the dance moves. Even Asana’s unicorn is quite pleasant. Without these well crafted artifacts, and implementation of the right artifact at the right moment in the right way, I don’t think the core idea would be effective.

I had fun exploring this idea and will share if I find more applications of it.

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