It’s safe to say that video games have never been more accessible or popular. From crushing candy on your phone to more immersive gaming experiences, a wide range of demographics game on a daily basis. We have moved a long way from the teenage gamer in the basement cliché of yore. The corona pandemic has only further highlighted their central role in our society, with video game sales up by  34% and video game hardware up by 63% in North America in March 2020 compared to March 2019.

farmville gamification saasWhy are we so addicted to these games? One explanation is escalation of commitment, or sunk cost fallacy. Essentially, gamers fall into a loop of engagement. You’ve already invested time towards your goal, so what’s the harm in investing a little more? There’s always an incentive there that helps seal the deal. Remember Farmville? 

To plant a crop, you must first spend resources on the seeds. You then plant the seeds and must wait for them to grow. When you harvest the seeds, you are rewarded with a cacophony of exciting sounds, attention-grabbing images, and some resources. Often times, these resources help you progress towards a larger goal. You also have the opportunity with each play to win a rare prize of significantly higher value than the seeds that you purchased. (source)

So what can we learn from these video games to engage our customers and get them addicted to our products? 

Scroll down to unlock the next level…

What is gamification anyway?

Gamification is a method that inspires itself from video games, and applies its elements to other contexts. For example, the popular language app Duolingo uses gamification in an educational context, to encourage learners to invest their time into developing a new language.

Duolingo gamification education

“Trying to learn an entire language is a huge nebulous goal that takes a long time to achieve. By breaking that goal down into smaller achievable daily goals or tasks we can encourage users to come back every day and to stick with it” – Zan Gilani, Product Manager at Duolingo, source).

Gamification has a wide range of applications, but there are a few common ways it manifests:

  • Point or task-tracking system
  • Rewards whether real or fictional (badges, trophies, champagne,…)
  • Leaderboards or score keeping
  • Competition, whether against a team or individuals.
  • An element of fun or participation that goes beyond the usual
  • Storytelling or choose-your-own adventure elements
  • And more… 

Whilst still relatively new, gamification has become ubiquitous to our online experiences. Next time you open LinkedIn for example, you might become aware of the many ways in which they have gamified the platform, from profile improving to SSI scores

linkedin gamification ssiOne of the benefits of gamification is that it is a way to break down complex information into modules or “one step at a time” approaches through:

  • Achievable steps. Generally, gamified methods will involve points or number of steps to achieve certain badges. No more flailing around, wondering where to start: you have a literal game plan to understand a product from A to Z.
  • Competitiveness and collaboration. Gamified approaches often involve some element of competition, even if it is against yourself. Team-based competitions are also a great way of bonding whilst not being in the same physical space. 
  • No delay in gratification. Behavioural scientist Dr Claire El Mouden has made the case that KPIs and annual bonuses are ineffective incentives. Instead, incentives should be timely and social. A bit like a game, then, eh? 

How to engage with your customers using gamification?

Ultimately, gamification should be a win-win situation that on the one hand unlocks further knowledge and value for your customers, and on the other, increases customer retention. 

The sky’s the limit, but your resources have borders. Gamification is therefore something to consider strategically:

  • Which area of your business is a priority right now?
  • Where do you need to increase engagement? (onboarding, customer retention, etc etc)
  • Can you automate/implement it easily?

Once the area has been identified you need to decide on the following:

  • Objectives. What are they aiming to achieve?
  • Challenges. What do they need to complete to get there?
  • Rewards. What do they win?

To inspire you, here are a few examples of how businesses have integrated gamification…

Clearscore: training users to a better credit score

Clearscore is a financial technology company that gives customers access to their credit score and report. Gamification is fully integrated into their application as part of the onboarding process, to empower their customers with their finances. They also offer personalised to-do list plans to help users get on top of their finances. 

Clearscore gamification financesWhat is great about their approach?

  • Breaks down a topic that brings people out in hives into manageable steps
  • Makes a very dry topic… fun?
  • It’s seamlessly integrated into their credit score checking experience. This is crucial as it gives their customers a reason to come back.

It’s no surprise that they’ve grown in under five years to having 11 million users across three markets.

Dropbox: encouraging referrals

Referrals are a common way to implement a gamification technique – the most famous example being probably Dropbox. Indeed, their referral campaign is how the company managed to consistently double its user base every three months between 2008 and 2010. The secret? Word of mouth (and putting user-feedback and development of their platform at the head of their priorities, but I digress). 

Dropbox gamification customer referrals
Why did their referral program work so well?

  • It was dead easy to understand: invite a friend now, if they join, you get extra space.
  • It was integrated in their product. If you shared a document with someone and they then joined Dropbox as a result, you also got the bonus, without having to jump through hoops.
  • The product was good. That’s less gamification, but it’s still important to note, as a referral scheme like this one does not go viral without the product being fundamentally decent and useful to lots of folk.

DeepStream: gamified backstage pass

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention one way in which DeepStream uses gamification: as a live demo experience of our product.

Instead of golf meetings and powerpoints, we back our product 100% through an exclusive live action game. As a prospect, you can play an end-to-end tender on our platform, and see if you win… 

How does it work?

    • Roleplay. Our product relies on interaction between lots of different people, so testing it on your own would be too limited. Therefore, members of the DeepStream team will be allocated roles to play for this tender. This means you can get the full breadth of the experience whether you are playing as a supplier, broker, or buyer in this scenario. 
    • Interactive. Everyone jumps on a video conference call and shares screens to go through the game in real time. Ask any questions you have, switch up roles, test out every function of our product.
    • Exciting and fast-paced. In the short time frame of a video call, you leave more pumped than when you joined


gamification demo experienceWhat are the benefits of this gamified approach?

  • The prospect can be properly informed about our software. We have nothing to hide, you can see for yourself how easy and flexible to use our platform is.
  • Reduced implementation time. Typically, enterprise software takes 6-18 months. After experiencing our gamified demo, prospects can understand how easy it is to fulfill our promise to implement our software in 2-6 weeks, as was the case recently with Altera Infrastructure.
  • User experience feedback. Tell us directly what you think about our product. Your feedback is used to drive future iterations of the product! 

Sounds good? Why not book a gamified live demo with us now, no strings attached!