Inverse Reward Ladder in Clash Royale - Game Design Breakdown


Typical Reward Ladder Design:

A typical reward ladder usually starts with a small reward at the start and slowly increases in the quality and/or quantity of rewards over the available milestones. This creates an increasing return for increase in engagement and reinforces the loop of repeated engagement.

There can be also instances where you have reward ladders that scale up non linearly and also those with an upward trending wavy pattern. Regardless of the pattern, one thing is consistent - rewards don't typically go down as you progress in the milestones.


This can also be seen in the Clash Royale challenges reward ladder till the end of 2021.


As you can see in the above image, the reward ladder here consists of Gold & Cards. gold increases in quantity and cards increase in rarity towards the end of the ladder.

Recent Clash Royale Challenges rewards:


I have been observing a change in the reward structure since the last few Clash Royale Special Challenges. The rewards are 'Front loaded' with the highest value reward at the front and then decreasing over time. In the above screen shot you can see that first reward is 8000 cash and then reduces per milestone until the last reward is not even a currency reward, its an 'Emote'.


This night be just a short term change and only to the current few special challenges, we cant say for sure.

However, if this trend is to stay or if a designer designs such a reward ladder intentionally, why do they need to do it in such a counter-intuitive fashion? Lets explore some possibilities!

Breaking Down Potential Reasons:

Clash Royale Special Challenges offer 3 free attempts and then charges 50 Gems (worth around 0.625$) for getting an additional 3 attempts.

If this event has 6 milestones & assuming a 50% ideal win rate , a player would need about 12 attempts to clear it (Actual win rate would be different for different player cohorts but we don't the know the internal data so we can assume an ideal case for now). This would then mean that ideally a player would use first few attempts till 3 losses and would need to do roughly 1 purchase (to accommodate the 3 more potential losses) & complete the event. That would mean a cost of 50 gems.

However, there is a catch, a player can get the Season pass instead and have free attempts as much as needed. At some point a smart player would choose to get the season pass instead of buying direct gems and complete the event. The season pass provides so much additional value!

This means that the net reward value that this event can give out safely (without inflating the economy) would need to be significantly lower!

Having said that, they cant reduce the rewards from the start as it would demotivate players from converting in the first place.. A typical player would feel," farther rewards are out of my reach anyways, so why even bother for such poor initial rewards? After my free 3 tries; I'm out of here!" or " I will play along only because its free for me due to the season pass".

Hence, the current reward structure may be intentionally designed in order to achieve 3 these goals:

  1. Incentivise Conversion/Gem Sink/Season pass purchase with bigger rewards at the front where the player funnel is also the largest.
  2. Reduce economy inflation & revenue risk reduce overall rewards and give a non currency reward like emoticons at the end and prevent highly engaged & monetising players from getting too many currency/resource type rewards.
  3. Non currency Reward: Emoticons are steeply priced at 250 Gems in the in-game store and provide only collection/expression value to the player. Hence, they can be given away without any impact to economy at the same time providing some value to players who care about the same.

I hope you enjoyed reading this article. Thank you for reading it till the end! In case you have any other potential reasons to explain why the team at Clash Royale designed the reward ladder this way, do let me know in the comments!