Is it game over for gamification?
There’s been some talk in recent months about how the gamification bubble has well and truly burst and its ‘game over for gamification’. At Playgen we like to think that we know a thing or two about gamification. We’ve taken a long hard look at what’s going on in the market at the moment. And our conclusion? It might not be game over but its definitely time for players in this space to up their game. Here’s our take on the different offerings out there and our predictions about the gamification business models that have lasting power. Needless to say, it’s the stuff that forms the basis of our approach so we’re certainly planning to be around in 10 years time!
Where are we now?
The gamification market is growing and evolving. However, as the initial novelty and hype around gamification wears off, the next generation of applications must prove they can really meet business objectives.
Unfortunately a lot of products out there at the moment just aren’t sophisticated enough to do that. There’s way too much in the bottom-left ‘one size fits all’ category.
A few are doing interesting things that are becoming more personalised and dynamic. But it’s a rare thing to find a product or platform that continuously adapts to meet users’ individual motivations and behaviours. At Playgen our projects are always bespoke and start from a thorough understanding of user motivations. We’re also big fans of Persuasion API who are doing cool things in the consumer space. But we haven’t found a whole lot else that floats our boat.
Besides the sophistication of gamification offerings, here are a few other predictions about the factors for success in the future:
Lesson 1 – its all about integration
So, we think the big market is enterprise. There are a lot of people going to work and not all of them are doing as much useful stuff as they could be. And at work people already have a whole ton of collaboration and communication tools foisted on them that they’re struggling to use. The last thing they need is another window to juggle. A gamification solution needs to integrate with the SharePoint, Salesforce and Jive’s of this world and motivate people to use this stuff. Let’s face it – they’re not at the moment.
Lesson 2 – you get out what you put in
There is no magic wand that you can wave to motivate employees to do more and customers to buy more. Its about time the gamification industry stopped trying to sell one. Clients need to be prepared to invest time in setting up and fine-tuning a gamification programme. Its also a long-term commitment, not a quick fix. The goals and the approach need to be regularly and continuously reviewed and updated. This is what delivers results.
Lesson 3– the only way is social
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again. We are so beyond points and prizes. Evidence shows us that social interaction constructs such as social pressure and peer assessment can enhance learning, interaction and performance. But, as always, it has to be done properly. There is no shortage of social tools out there for enterprise. However McKinsey estimate that only 3% of companies derive substantial benefit from social technologies1. Playgen is a specialist in applying game mechanics proven to increase collaboration and team performance. When a solid understanding of social game mechanics is applied, it reaps rewards.
Lesson 4 – a 416% increase in engagement? Let’s get serious
First, what does that even mean (its a real quote, we won’t name names). Second, these massive and spuriously accurate claims of improvement just aren’t credible. We should be able to give a straight and believable answer when a client asks us what impact they can expect. Given that we’re all spouting about big data, we should be using this capability to robustly test and assess impact. At Playgen we’re doing an RCT of different approaches within our latest collaboration tool. The gamification industry needs to grow up and prove its worth.
What does the future hold?
Some of the well-known players seem to trying to distance themselves from the ‘gamification’ label. Badgeville apparently now run a ‘behaviour platform’ while Big Door run a ‘loyalty platform’. Though Bunchball are sticking to their guns and are still prepared to admit they offer a ‘gamification engine’. Whatever you call it, the future has to be about targeting individual users’ motivations.
The one size fits all offerings clearly don’t do this. Then there’s a lot of labour-intensive personalisation around at the moment. We think that to survive in the future, there has to be a smarter way. And that’s one of the things we’re working on at the moment. Hopefully our reflections will also be of some use to any lost souls out there working in a bunker on their gamification start-ups. The industry isn’t dead and buried yet but the next generation of gamification has to level up.