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16. Reward Schedules

Possible Reward Schedules include:

  • Continuous Reward – You get a reward each time. The reward is automatic and goes for every incidence of the action.
  • Fixed Ratio Reward – You get the reward every nth number of times. E.g. you get the reward every other time: 1st time, 3rd time, 5th time, 7th time etc.
  • Fixed Interval Reward – Reward is fixed by time and not based on the engagement in the task. E.g. you get the reward every 3 units of time.
  • Variable Reward – Reward is on no fixed schedule.

Continuous reward is of least interest in gamification since you get it every time,it does not seem to be like a reward. Fixed ratio and fixed interval rewards have some psychological value but as the brain adapts to the pattern, it tends to become dull and less motivating. Variable rewards are most interesting as our brains love surprises and tend to respond powerfully to unexpected and to variable rewards.

Example: Samsung Nation

  • Badge for number of visits to the site
    • Fixed ratio reward


  • Competitive/non-competitive (e.g. zero sum game where one player wins and the other loses)
  • Certain/uncertain (e.g. MLB.com badges that occur not just when you watch the streaming video, but when something that was designated happens to the player in that game. The uncertainty turns this otherwise fixed schedule completion contingent into a variable reward which is more interesting to people)

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