Whatever the game type, there should be numerous paths for the player(s) to take or random events to occur to move the player(s) along and finally determine the winner(s).
Many games (for example, “adventure” games), give the player(s) a score at the end of the game. The game’s main goal is to finish the assigned quest. The game’s secondary goal is to better your previous score(s) and eventually earn the perfect score.
Puzzle games could reward the player with a password that would allow them access to higher levels.
In games, the goal is to win, but in many games tying (drawing) or losing a well-played game against a much stronger and skillful opponent is a rewarding and satisfactory outcome.
When designing your game, think about your audience, the challenges and hoops you’ve put them through to reach the final plateau, where they now stand awaiting their reward. Design an ending worthy of a winner and acceptable to the non-winner who has just finished your game.
Fireworks. A ticker-tape parade. The cheers of millions. These may seem overboard and silly, but to a traveler who has spent time journeying across the game you’ve designed, the spectacular ending is a marvelous reward and justly warranted.
Think of your gamer as the conquering hero who is entering the city to pay homage to you, the designer, or the parade for the sports team that has won the national championship, or the audience’s excitement and atmosphere before an encore at a concert.