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The GAMESbrief Glossary:
Commitment is one of the six Influence Principles which are used to persuade people to buy products or services.
This Principle is based on the fact that once we’ve agreed to do something, we’re unlikely to go back on our word. The commitment may not be a binding one – it could just be a few words to a salesman – but our minds tend to see that commitment as a decision that’s important to our self-image. Even if the original reasons for making the commitment disappear, we’ll probably stick with it because we see it as an agreement that must be honoured.
The relevance of Commitment to videogames isn’t quite as obvious as some of the other Influence Principles, but it’s important in subtle ways. Subscription models of any kind rely on Commitment, while the appointment mechanics that keep players coming back to your game day after day are also Commitment in action.
The Influence Principles are based on Robert Cialdini’s book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, which you ought to read. The other five principles are Reciprocity, Social Proof, Authority, Likeability and Scarcity.