Gamification: Expectation vs Reality

Saturday, July 6, 2019

However successful gamification has managed to become from case to case, the process has managed to carry an aura of mystery and uncertainty over the years, leaving some companies, marketers and educators to remain sceptical of implementing it into their business practices, marketing campaigns and educator guides.

This divide between enthusiasts and critics has created several myths and mindsets about gamification.

There seems to be quite a disconnect between the expectations of gamification and the reality of the situation. The following examples are some of the most common misconceptions we at Gamify have to dispel with clients regularly.

Here are 5 examples of Gamification Expectation vs Reality.

Expectations vs Reality


Expectation: Gamification = Points, Badges, Leaderboards

Reality: Gamification gives users feedback

Though badges and points can increase initial engagement, that’s not the ultimate goal of gamification. In reality, some gamification examples don’t use game elements at all.

In reality, the key to a successful gamification program is the amount of feedback given to the user. Users need checkpoints to know if they are on the right track towards gaining a new skill or understanding new concepts. 

Yes, gamification can be built on points, extrinsic motivation and transactional engagement. But good gamification concentrates far more on ludification, intrinsic motivators and emotional engagement. That means a gamified solution can be gamified without ever offering a point, badge or status icons.

Points, badges and leaderboards may be effective mechanics for your situation  but these elements are the low-hanging fruit of gamification. If you shove them into your campaign without thoughtful design, you may fail to see long term engagement. 

This myth is based on the belief that progress indicators within a game are enough to motivate people. Any game designer would laugh at this notion — game mechanics are more like the icing on a cake. Game mechanics are the visible “tip of the iceberg” within a great gaming experience; the true power comes from the underlying systems, content and storytelling that hold your interest and propels you through the experience.

Expectation: Gamification is for a specific target market

Reality: Gamification has a much wider reach than originally thought

Some companies and brands fear that by including gaming elements into their work practices and marketing efforts, it will isolate large portions of the audience, making the program or campaign less effective.

Games appeal to both young and old alike, if a business is looking for a way to appeal to consumers of all ages, games are currently the most accessible stream to reach such a wide network of demographics. According to Forbes, 2017 saw mobile gaming account for 42% of global gaming revenue - that's over $50 billion in revenue.

To give you an understanding of why mobile gaming is so lucrative, 80% of smartphone users play games on their phone, nearly 50% of which play games daily, putting in approximately 1-2 hours of gameplay each day. The demographic of mobile gamers is almost equally split with 48% of gamers being female and 52% being male. Also, the average age of a gamer is 36 years old.

These numbers show that the market is vast and varied and when you marry those figures up with the integration of smart devices into daily life, it becomes quite evident that whichever target market a business is aiming for is well within the reach of gamification.

Expectation: Gamification and games are the same

Reality: Gamification uses some gaming elements

Repeat after me: Gamification is not a game. 

The key difference is games are made to entertain and pass the time. Gamification strategy, on the other hand, helps users to learn new skills or become product aware by using gaming elements.

In the simplest terms, games are made to entertain players. There’s generally a storyline, elaborate graphics, a winner, and so on. Gamification, meanwhile, uses aspects or elements of games to help people achieve goals outside of games.

Though gamification may share some characteristics with games, the true distinction lies within the differences. Gamification leverages our love of competition and reward and uses it to inspire actions from users such as social media shares.

Many people kick off their gamification project with sketches and ideas about creating a sexy game-like interface. 

Sometimes this makes sense  but oftentimes, the best interface is simple and flexible, with the game-like systems grinding away underneath, moving the player through the experience in a fun and effective way.

Expectation: Only large, global brands can afford to develop an advergame

Reality: gamification software has never been more accessible

This may have been the standard in the not so distant past when branded games were developed from scratch by game developers. The cost of development was significant and in many cases prohibitive to smaller companies and campaigns.

Gamify has a software platform that allows for either their team or partnered clients to create gamified experiences with ease. Brand marketers can use a template approach, customising the best performing and popular consumer games to their brand and product images.

Expectation: Gamification requires App creation

Reality: HTML5 creations are both faster and more accessible gamification initiatives

This is built on an assumption from smartphone users that everything within their phone must be contained within an app. The reality is that there is no need for an app. Games are created using HTML5 which can be accessed on all smart devices, computers and mobile browsers. Internet access and speed are now so good on mobiles that games can be played from any location immediately.

Gamify’s platform is built entirely on HTML5 creations.

Final Thoughts

There are a lot of varied thoughts towards gamification out there, most of which are rooted in speculation. We hope this read has helped clarify or rewire any previous thoughts you may have had towards gamification effectiveness.

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