Gamification is the process of using game mechanics in non-game contexts to encourage users to achieve their goals. It takes the techniques commonly used within games to encourage usage and applies them to non-game models, motivating users to engage with businesses.
Huge companies are using gamification within their apps in order to encourage brand loyalty and usage. For example:
- Nike uses gamification in their Nike+ applications to encourage and reward users who maintain an active lifestyle.
- My Starbucks Rewards uses gamification to incentivize and reward customer loyalty.
- Free Rice uses gamification for social good in ending word hunger.
McDonalds, staying ahead of the game, have been using gamification techniques since before we were even using mobiles. With their Monopoly stickers, they were able to draw customers in for repeat purchases in order to collect spaces on the board and win prizes.
Perhaps the biggest current use of gamification within apps is for language-based learning. These include apps that reward users for completing sections of languages in the form of charts showing your progression, and allowing you to reach the next “level” of learning.
The best example of this is Duolingo. This is by far the most popular language-learning app in the market, used by over 100 million people worldwide and valued at $470M.
Duolingo uses gamification in the way described above, but I believe the key to their success, beyond the excellent lessons, is their “streak” feature. This is where users are encouraged to keep using the app every day, in order to keep a streak going. This fits into the chain method that people such as Jerry Seinfeld prescribe to, in which they do something every day and mark it off, aiming to keep the chain going as long as possible. It’s essentially the gaming mentality that people enjoy so much. By breaking the streak, you lose the game and start from the beginning. However, by keeping it going, you build habits and learn a language in the process.
The benefits of using gamification within a non-gaming system are huge, with estimates that revenue will grow to be over $11 billion by 2020, clearly it’s a market to take seriously. To add to this, when you look at how people respond, 89% of people said that a point system boosts their engagement.
With all of this information, it’s obvious why large companies are jumping at the chance to incorporate gamification into their apps.