The Dark Side of Push Notifications: Avoiding User Overload
min read
September 4, 2023

The Dark Side of Push Notifications: Avoiding User Overload

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Push notifications have become a popular tool for keeping players engaged and informed in the gaming industry. However, notification overload can lead to frustration, burnout, and disengagement. Here are some data points and real-life examples to support the article:

The Pitfalls of Notification Overload

Notification overload is a phenomenon that plagues many gamers, often leading to frustration, burnout, or even disengagement. When players are bombarded with an excessive number of notifications, their gaming experience can quickly turn from enjoyable to overwhelming. Here are some of the challenges associated with notification overload:According to a study published in PMC, smartphone push notifications can negatively affect task performance and increase smartphone overuse. The study found that push notifications can cause cognitive distraction and lead to decreased task performance.

  • Reduced Immersion: Constant interruptions from notifications can break the immersion that is crucial for an enjoyable gaming experience. AppsFlyer found that message overload causes mass dropouts and suggests that focusing on quality rather than quantity to prevent users from feeling overwhelmed.
  • Information Overload: Too many notifications can flood players with information, making it difficult to distinguish critical updates from less important ones.As observed by MagicBell, UX designer Nupur Patel in the intrusion of alert overload in building meaningful experiences. She suggests that “app creators must focus on sending the right messages at the right time to avoid alert overload.”
  • Irritation and Frustration: Gamers may become irritated by frequent notifications, which can lead to negative feelings towards the game and, in some cases, abandonment. In the highlights by Built In  the risks of egregious notifications and the psychological and business risks associated with them. Messaging companies such as Doist, Samelogic, Intercom, and Puppet are starting to recognize these risks and are revolting against them. Some strategies for making push notifications less intrusive and stress-inducing are starting to emerge such as Simply bombarding the user will lead to them dropping off, something that companies cannot afford. This is what Ngrow solves for.
  • Decision Fatigue: An abundance of notifications can overwhelm players, leading to decision fatigue as they try to manage and respond to each one.The UX Designer's Guide to Implementing Push Notifications suggests that “managing the frequency of push notifications is crucial to prevent user disengagement. The number of push notifications to send depends on the type of product and user preference.”
  • Battery Drain: Mobile gamers may experience faster battery drain due to the constant stream of notifications.In a blog post by OneSignal, they suggest that developing a strategy to send targeted messages consistently without over-messaging is key to keeping users opted in to messages and building a connection to your company. Over-messaging can have negative impacts on your company in real-time, such as driving too much traffic and negatively impacting your servers.

"Today, the average smartphone user receives over 40 push notifications a day." - CleverTap data 2018

Strategies to Balance Communication

To maintain a positive gaming experience and prevent player overload, game developers and publishers must implement effective strategies for managing push notifications:

1. User-Centric Customization:

  • Allow players to customize their notification preferences. Provide options to select which types of notifications they wish to receive and how frequently.

2. Prioritize Relevance:

  • Use player data and behavior analysis to ensure that notifications are relevant to each individual. Notify players about events or updates that align with their interests and in-game activities.

3. Batch Notifications:

  • Consider sending batch notifications at specific times or intervals rather than sending them individually. This approach reduces the frequency of interruptions.

4. In-Game Notification Hub:

  • Implement an in-game notification hub or message center where players can access and manage notifications at their convenience.

5. Clear and Concise Messaging:

  • Craft clear and concise notification messages that convey essential information without unnecessary details.

6. Opt-Out Option:

  • Always provide an easy-to-find opt-out option within the game's settings, allowing players to disable notifications if they wish.

7. Event Scheduling:

  • Schedule events and announcements strategically to avoid overlap and ensure that players have time to engage with each one without feeling rushed.

8. Feedback Loop:

  • Encourage players to provide feedback on the notification system and listen to their suggestions for improvement.

Bottom Line

Push notifications have the potential to enhance the gaming experience by keeping players informed and engaged. However, when overused or mismanaged, they can lead to notification overload and player dissatisfaction. Game developers and publishers must strike a balance by implementing user-centric customization, prioritizing relevance, and adopting effective notification management strategies. By doing so, they can ensure that push notifications enhance rather than diminish the gaming experience, ultimately fostering long-term player engagement and satisfaction.