If you’re planning on using gamification, you want to choose the best gamification platform there is. Gamification is a high-risk choice: if you use it, you’re not going to be satisfied with a mediocre result. When you use gamification you want to shine – be the person who is revered for having the vision, creativity and courage to use gamification and transform your business.
Your choice of gamification isn’t a nice-to-have choice. You want it to drive serious business results: otherwise, it may not be worth the effort.
- If you’re looking for consumer gamification you want to get some serious engagement from consumers, have measurable results in behaviors, revenue or brand affinity.
- If you’re using gamification to drive employee performance, you want to see real return-on-investment, not just some nice badges and cute animal avatars.
So, if gamification is strategic to you, regardless of whether you want to gamify learning, employee performance or to get teens to buy more of your garlic-tasting ice-cream, you want to know what are the best gamification platforms for 2017?
That’s a tough question. The reason it’s tough is that oftentimes, you should not be looking for a gamification platform in the first place.
Before we begin, let’s state some uncomfortable truths about gamification:
1. Gamification doesn’t always require a platform
At Gameffective, we often get inquiries whether our platform (which is used for employee gamification) can be added to a mobile app, consumer website etc.
There’s a reason for these inquiries: people hear that gamification can drive engagement, they’ve heard of Pokemon Go, they want the same level of fun and engagement in what they’ve been working on.
Only there is one uncomfortable truth. That truth is that points, badges and leaderboards don’t make engagement. They are not a guarantee that users will be enamored with your product. Points, badges and leaderboards are game mechanics, of which they are quite a few. And another part of this uncomfortable truth is that most, if not all, gamification platforms for consumer apps (and business apps too) offer those points, badges and leaderboards. You don’t believe me? Think about what would happen if you got 10 points for reading this article on my blog. Would you care? I don’t think so. Would you be annoyed? Maybe… but this is what many “gamification” platforms do.
My advice? If you want to gamify your app/software/business – do something smart. Use gamification as part of the design of the app/software/business. Don’t slap it on like lipstick. It won’t work.
When does gamification work? When it is nicely integrated into the app. When it is gamefully designed. Here is a story about how it worked (and then didn’t work) for Foursquare. And here is another story about how it did work when done well: for karma points and for Linkedin.
2. Think Gamification equals competition? You’re wrong.
Most people think that the strongest driver in gamification is competition. Research shows that this isn’t right. While some people are driven by competition, many aren’t and the result can be dangerous disengagement. Competition is considered an extrinsic motivator, and extrinsic motivation doesn’t work for the long run. What drives people for the long run is intrinsic motivation – like a sense of a job well-done.
That’s also where the weakness of many gamification platform lies. They take points and mix in some leaderboards and competition. Or they give points and generate badges. They can be incredibly powerful but only when well designed and part of the platform. Most often, when applied through a platform, it isn’t.
3. Think Gamification is equivalent to a cash award?
I once got asked by someone whether it was worthwhile to use gamification. The logic? You could give out cash bonuses instead.
Research shows this isn’t true. People don’t work more when paid more (think of what this means to the paychecks of top CEOs…) and giving them a small cash award can even backfire, as this fascinating research shows.
4. The future of gamification platforms is in employee engagement
Have you read this article and decided that gamification platforms are useless? The answer is the opposite. I do believe that gamification platforms that just dump points badges and leaderboards over a consumer application are useless. The providers of such platforms probably hate me.
But there’s a message here. Designing gamification right does have considerable rewards and measureable business rewards. These rewards depend on good design and a natural tie-in of gamification to the application at hand.
But in the case of employee gamification – for learning gamification, sales gamification or customer service gamification – the story is 100% different.
Why? Because 2017 showed us that gamification for employee engagement can and does work. Why? Because it isn’t about slapping a video game or points on working. It is because gamification in the workplace can do quite a lot.
- To drive better employee performance, it uses real-time feedback and goals (personalized ones, where the employee “competes with herself”) to reflect performance, like a fitbit for work.
- It can do wonders for learning gamification… since it drives completion
Want to know more? Read 5 surprising things about gamification at work.