What is the benefit of mechanics that give the winning side advantages that help them win more, such as COD poweups?

A COD player calls down a precision airstrikeALT

COD’s Killstreak rewards are exciting, memorable, and (generally) difficult to obtain. They’re similar to, for example, randomly-determined critical hits that deal additional damage or dizzying your opponent in fighting games. Statistically speaking, the killstreak rewards are designed so they won’t greatly affect overall game results, but they’re really cool to activate and the players engaging with them have a lot of fun. It provides a feeling of power and provides a momentary break from the tension of the normal game experience and allows players to relax for a bit before getting back into the game.

Critical Role players cheer loudlyALT

Having rare moments of feeling totally awesome is better for player experience than having a steady overall incremental advantage, even if these two are statistically equivalent in terms of overall match results. Players like these memorable moments - they stand out and engage the player when they happen, and they stay with the player long after. The cooler and more intense the moment, the more memorable it is to the player who’s doing it, but it’s also not as big a deal for the players getting hit by the killstreak reward. Getting killed ten times by the enemy team is really not that different from getting killed eleven times by the enemy team. Getting killed by a drone rocket or dogs also isn’t that different from getting shot in the head. Thanks to skill-based matchmaking and ranking systems, the players get dispersed into their different skill buckets where matches tend to be more balanced and less lopsided, which also makes killstreaks less common.

Overall, these kind of generally hard-to-obtain win-more mechanics exist to make players  who get them feel good and have a memorable game experience, while the players on the receiving end don’t really feel that much worse. They aren’t really random so they can be both planned for and against. They’re a nice bit of polish that can differentiate a particular game from its competitors.

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