Over the last few years, the term “gamification” has been attracting a lot of interest in the business world. As a result, we see a lot of large companies rapidly introducing gamification technologies into many of their business processes, with this trend continuously going upward. According to Mordor Intelligence’s report, in 2018 the global gamification market was valued at USD 5.5 billion, and is estimated to account for a CAGR of 30.31% over the period of 2019-2024.
What is Gamification?
Gartner, a world-wide known research and advisory company, defines the term «gamification» as «the use of game mechanics and experience design to digitally engage and motivate people to achieve their goals. »
To put it in simple terms, the concept of gamification is about using gaming techniques in business contexts in order to enhance productivity and engagement. Gartner positions gamification as a goal alignment tool aimed at aligning users’ and employers’ business goals and objectives.
Why Does It Work?
At the heart of gamification is a clever use of psychology. Below we will outline the main gamification drivers that trigger our emotions in order to bring positive user experience.
A Sense of Achievement
Achievement is one of the most powerful psychological factors that affect human behavior. Everything we do, we do for a feeling of achievement and the whole gamification concept is built on it. For example, a person who uses a gaming mobile application always has goals to achieve in the virtual environment.
Sounds odd, but take the most popular games – Mario or Zelda. These applications, with all their numerous levels and rewards, drag people into playing more and more.
Another prominent example is Facebook – you post a picture or status and soon afterwards you are rewarded with likes or comments helping Facebook keep its users’ engagement high.
The Power of Competition
Competition is another important factor that makes gamification so appealing. By their very nature, people are very competitive – we all strive to be better than the rest. This psychological feature is fully exploited in gamification. With all the points, badges, levels, and leaderboards that make users addictive, gaming applications are playing on the human trait of competitiveness that is an inherent or acquired component of human behavior.
Just take the most popular social media like Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, or Facebook, which are actually big gaming platforms. Most of their users are trying to get more likes, followers, and comments.
Rewards and Recognition
The real magic of gamification happens with rewards when the users are rewarded for particular tasks they perform. Needless to say that the tasks are set by the developers of applications and pursue certain business goals.
Think about dog training. You reward a dog with a treat if it behaves well, thus reinforcing its behavior. In order to continue receiving treats, the dog keeps to the behavior model that procured the reward.
The same principle is applied in gamification. One of the most widely used examples is a coffee stamp. When customers buy a cup of coffee, they usually get stamps, which they can later exchange for a free refill.
Gamification is all set to revolutionize high performance team building. As we are social beings by our very nature, we all possess a sense of community and collaboration.
Gamification techniques help users feel a part of a team. It is a total win-win, with users meeting their need for socialization and employers cherishing loyalty and enhancing positive user experience.
It is a spirit of community and collaboration that makes gamification a success.
Exploration and Escape
One of the reasons why most of us love games so much is the possibility to escape reality. In a virtual environment, we can be anyone, we can do things that are impossible in real life, as well as achieve success in a much shorter time. Sounds good, doesn’t it?
When a gaming app gives its users the freedom of exploration, it creates excitement and intrigue – two very powerful feelings.
Netflix, a subscription-based streaming OTT service which offers online streaming of TV programs and films, has been using gaming mechanics for quite a long time. Netflix allows its users to explore new TV shows and movies at their own pace while the games center on genres and actors helps gauge user preferences.
Where is Gamification More Effective?
Gamification has found its greatest use in two fields: customer service and employee management. By applying gamification-based technologies, companies can retain employees and engage their customers.
Gamification has proved to be a rapidly growing trend for employee engagement by providing a digital environment that motivates employees to reach particular objectives and goals. When using such gaming mechanics as status, points, leaderboards, and rewards, users become more engaged with their work and therefore show better efficiency at the workplace.
Of course, the task of making the workforce more efficient requires a financial investment. However, the investment required for a gamified approach is much smaller compared to physical motivators and rewards. What also counts is that companies’ executives gain insight into employees progress.
Gamification is an ultimate engagement tool that is able to keep the workforce engaged. As a result, the employees stay longer with the company and work more efficiently.
Gamification has been used for customer engagement for decades. Just think about people earning credit cards or airline points for flight purchases, that can be later exchanged for bonuses or goods. This kind of reward systems motivates users to spend more money, making them kind of addicted.
According to Gartner report on gamification, more than 50% of surveyed executives are applying some sort of gamification. Just have a look at the most prominent customer experience campaigns in marketing or advertising, many of which have been using gamification techniques to entertain their customers. For instance, McDonald’s have offered its clients a McDonald’s annual Monopoly game for 30 years and prizes in the amount of over $40 million have been given away. This strategy has helped McDonald’s to raise its sales from 1% to 6%.
Gamification isn’t just a buzzword or a gimmick. Customized games foster loyalty, drive revenues, and create more profitable customers.
Gamification in Use
One of the most innovative companies, Google, has been introducing gamification into its business since its inception. For a long time now, Google has been using Google Code Jam competitions in order to attract new and fresh talents to its team. By using gamification mechanics, the app has been helping the company to identify top talents for potential employment. Now it is a worldwide known platform that enables competition for the opportunity to be called “Code Jam Champion” and to win the $15,000 grand prize.
M&M’s Eye-Spy Pretzel
M&M’s didn’t stay away either, and in 2013, it introduced gamification in its M&M’s pretzel marketing campaign. It was a game, which was based on the eye-spy logic. While playing, the users had to find one small hidden pretzel in a huge amount of M&M’s candies.
This application enhanced users’ engagement, brought new customers, spread the brand’s name all over social media with more than 25,000 new likes and more than 10,000 comments.
Starbucks is widely known for its successful marketing campaigns. Gamification, of course, appeals to the Starbucks company. My Starbucks Rewards is an example of gamification embedded, as it transforms a traditional card loyalty program into something much more complex.
After registration, customers gain stars with every purchase in Starbucks stores, which can later be exchanged for free drinks and food. The game has three levels differentiated by the degree of clients’ loyalty, with each higher level always open to those who visit Starbucks cafes.
Deloitte, a multinational professional service network, which provides consulting in many fields, introduced a leadership training course to its employees but faced challenges motivating its workforce to complete the training program. To meet this problem, Deloitte implemented gaming elements such as badges, leaderboards, and status symbols. As a result, trainees were more engaged and the training curriculum average time was reduced by almost 50%.