Confusion of Choice

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Preventing users from making rational decisions by overwhelming them with choice and making things hard or impossible to compare.

Key Elements

Lots of packages, options, or complicated terms Difficult to compare across packages or retailers Possibly “price guarantees”, but retailers offer one unique element that makes things different.


When a product has very little differential value between offers, it should become a commodity. If some other force or inertia is preventing commoditization, at least the margins should erode due to fierce competition for identical offers. This play resists price competition in that context.


In the US, there are only a few mattress manufacturers, but they sell unique models to retailers. Many stores cary Brand X mattresses, and claim to offer the “guaranteed lowest prices”, but a buyer will not find the models offered by a retailer available from another chain. It is also very difficult to tell one model from another, so we often just select on price and superficial features.

Insurance plans, cell phone plans, etc. are frequently deliberately hard to understand.

Counter Plays

See Also

Gameplay Patterns