I'm working on an app with a gamification approach and I kinda hit a wall with a problem: users may feel frustrated even though they've achieved a goal

Since this is a bit complex to understand without some context, let's say this app works in a way user unlocks features and prizes on a cyclical basis (cycles are selected by user in 30 days spans, to a max of 120 days/4 months). Once the cycle re-starts, features have to be unlocked again (with small differences, but still have to be unlocked). The app deals with health and physical conditioning

So, let's say user starts at level 0 and chooses a 30 days cycle. S/he needs to unlock as much features/prizes as possible. After 30 days have passed by, the features are locked again and s/he needs to run another cycle, but this time in level x (where x is a number bigger than 0)

The features and prizes have been tested with very positive reviews, so this is not an issue. As a matter of fact, this is part of the problem: I'm afraid reviews on features are so good there will be a sense of frustration over losing them (prizes aren't lost, just features locked).

The thing is that after each cycle, if the user unlocked at least one feature or prize, this user has objectively earned something, and there's no way to deny it. But it's also true that SUBJECTIVELY they'll see they're back to square 0 on a new cycle. No matter how much higher the level is, they will have all features locked.

So, the question is: which technique or approximate copy may I use to alleviate the perceived frustration and make the user understand this is something good and for her/his own benefit?

PS: I understand any answer will require further testing, so fire at will

1 Answer 1


Just throwing an idea out there. How about attempting something akin to a sales tactic, "And that's not all. For a limited time, we'll throw in XYZ," as a way of clearly stating this is a limited time bonus that'll expire after X days.

This requires you to have various levels for your feature. You unlock it the first time you've complete a set. You get a bonus boost on top for a limited time, every time you've re-do the set.

Or, to completely flip your rewards model into a traditional points based system. User has basic features unlock for the 1st completion & earn X number of points which can be used to purchase limited time reward features.

This way it doesn't seem like you're losing something. Instead, it's very clearly outlined that your reward is a super shiny limited time item.

  • nightning, this is a nice answer and gives me some ideas, however it's not applicable to my scenario. I probably explained it in a confusing manner, but there's not a common buy/sell approach ( which would make things easier). I can't give many details due to NDA, but this is more like "see? you ate your vegetables and you got big and strong. Now let's get bigger and stronger by eating more vegetables". The winning is in health (it really is) so the usual marketing approaches are something I can't really see for this. Either way, you gave me a clue that I'd need to develop!
    – Devin
    Sep 24, 2015 at 23:09
  • just in case it helps to the answer, the prizes are of the type: "instead of vegetables you earn the right to have an icecream" , and features are of the type "you can use a locked feature in your gadget"
    – Devin
    Sep 24, 2015 at 23:13
  • 1
    I see. Hmmm perhaps more focus on the intrinsic motivation model and less on unlocking of features may make sense. Here's your stats from the last cycle, now try beating it by X amount. A visual graph showing progress compared to the last cycle may help. Then down play that feature as a bonus on top.
    – nightning
    Sep 24, 2015 at 23:28

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