By Jacquie Pirnie - August 17, 2014
Tags: app optimisation, app platforms, app stores, Marketing
Unless you’ve spent the last few years living in a bubble, as opposed to a cloud like the rest of us, you’ve probably heard of and read about the amazing statistics around the increasing popularity of video games.
Some of the most common proof of success in this area comes from companies like Zynga – whose sole product is social gaming – which, during its hey-day, was valued at a net worth of $10B. A phenomenal success when you consider the simplicity of their games like “Farmville” and “Mafia Wars”. Other companies, like King, who focused originally on mobile games only, make almost $700,000 per day from their headline ‘freemium’ games like “Candy Crush”. A game that’s as addictive as it is annoying, and integrates social media participation as a means to increase your chances of success.
But what implications does this gaming trend have for businesses?
The technique of taking an everyday process and making it more engaging through the use of tactics like repetition, competition, rewarding and recognition is known as gamification. We’ve been using these stratagems in a corporate sense for decades with campaigns such as ‘loyalty programs’ and ‘sales leader boards’, but the birth of digital and social media has expanded the reach and potential of gamification in processes.
Some examples include Nike, who created a dedicated section of their site known as NikeFuel, for competing fitness fiends to interact with others by uploading and comparing their athletic achievements. On the other end of the spectrum, the world’s largest software company SAP has developed a mechanism for website users to be rewarded for feedback and interaction with the site, company and other users. Users collect points for sharing valuable information with fellow forum members, which in turn has reduced SAP’s investment in answering these queries. Improving the gamification elements in both these cases actually increased interaction with the site and associated products.
Whilst gamification has been great to increase profitability, its application in the world of philanthropy has been equally astounding. Gamified processes have successfully assisted in a breakthrough in AIDS research when scientists opened up a ‘puzzle’ to scientists around the world to get involved with; it has helped patients fighting cancer by providing them a distraction, purpose, and also important information about their treatment and condition; It has assisted with raising funds for charities – with names like Edward Norton backing a great organization; and it has helped convince people to recycle by competition.
Why does it work?
While there is conjecture amongst experts and academics regarding whether gamification is just a phase, there is no question it is a phase worth investing in. The basics of gamification have their academic roots in the area of developmental and behavioural psychology. A world-famous theorist, Albert Bandura, proposed that people learn through positive and negative reinforcement. And positive reinforcements (eg earning badges, or levelling up) will lead to a repeat in the behavior that lead to that positive reinforcement. Burrhus Frederic Skinner added to this theory, confirming that the reinforcements become the motivator. Adding to these theories, we need to consider the popularity of social media, which is widely considered as being popular due to human beings’ innate need to ‘belong’ and to ‘socialise’ – along with the fulfillment of our needs when we achieve or goals or accomplish more than our competitors.
Whilst there is far more literature and rhetoric on the topic, I would need several hours to cover it all! In summary, gamification works en masse because it plays on our basic human desires, coupled with the latest stimulation techiques, to deliver an elevated state to the user.
How can it help you?
Gamification has facilitated business improvement in a range of areas: from easier on-boarding of staff, to improve internal communications, to more effective achievement of sales targets, to improved customer loyalty, to greater staff retention.
To discuss any of these areas or for more specific examples, please don’t hesitate to contact an AppGenius today!