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A reward schedule is an element of game design where the designer arranges for players to receive some type of payoff for playing the game. The rewards vary according to the game genre, but some common examples include:
The rewards can be paid out at random, as a ratio of completion or at set time intervals.
Reward schedules are central to keeping players engaged in a game. Rewards work on several levels. With progression games, there are often multiple rewards per level and throughout the game.
For example, defeating an opponent in a beat-'em-up might yield a special weapon that help the gamer defeat multiple opponents, which may further yield more items or a similar bonus. Then, when the player beats a level boss, that player is rewarded twice – once with the satisfaction of victory and again by being able to access a higher level (usually with a new cut-scene to boot).