You might recall an era of time when you were the owner of a 40-acre plot of land, which you vigilantly harvested produce from every day after returning home from school or work, before going over to your friends’ places to compare progress.
Virtually, of course. I’m talking about Farmville, the highly addictive game launched through Facebook in late 2009.
Now, imagine if you could incorporate strategies from absurdly captivating games into your own non-game applications. This idea is essentially the concept of successful in-app gamification.
How do we fuel people’s desire to interact with our apps with the same fire they had when they were building virtual farms that were elaborate enough to end world hunger? The answer lies in the structure of most games: creating tasks, implementing a reward system for the completion of these tasks, and creating a social feedback system.
Humans have a natural desire to achieve, and manipulating this natural instinct makes them feel in charge, important, and capable, which keeps them striving to stay involved to improve upon their successes.
Contrary to what some marketers might believe, humans are not easily manipulated pawns. They will not stay invested in an app that offers meaningless rewards or insignificant badges in exchange for the completion of tasks that don’t benefit them. A system with pretty badges works for a short period of time, and it might even draw people in initially, but it won’t keep users invested in your app. This is why, in a smart gamification model, companies create tasks for users that, when completed, are a meaningful win for both parties.
For example, Nike created an app called Nike+ Running, which utilized gamification in order to promote its sports equipment line. This app involved using smartphones to create an engaging experience for runners, and compete in challenges with other runners for rewards such as appearing on a leaderboard for fast runs, and having the completed challenges appear in their personal gallery.
As a result, devoted runners became devoted Nike+ users and received organized documentation of each of their workouts, social feedback from their runner friends, and positive reinforcement for the completion of goals relevant to them. This led users to achieve more challenges within the app to build upon their success, and in exchange for this, Nike received immense exposure for their brand, which drove higher sales.
Successful implementation of in-app gamification requires a significant amount of strategy and patience, with careful attention paid to avoiding typical pitfalls that lead to the disintegration of boring games. Thankfully, the range of strategies utilized in enthralling games are limitless, and there are millions of ways to go about captivating your audience through your own gamification techniques.