Play Your Way to Success: Gamification in Business


A friend of mine, upon arrival to Vienna as a tourist, first of all rushed to see…no, not the attractions suggested by all city guides. She started with those places, where she could “check in” and get some badges from Foursquare. And some people think that their day is wasted if they don’t make at least one selfie, wherever they are, and post it to a social network.  Many of us are “hooked” on the applications with game elements, which allow us to collect points, prizes, small gifts and new profile “decorations” – for certain activities.

Game is different from any other activity because motivation for the game lies mainly in the process itself, rather than in the result.


There are a lot of incentives for playing games: having fun, being a part of the competition, expressing yourself, trying something new, communicating with friends. Indeed, winning is not as important as participating.

In fact, the idea to bring game elements into business processes is not so new. Back in 1912, Cracker Jack started to put toys into popcorn packs in order to attract more buyers. This technique is still one of the favourite tricks of FMCG marketers.

Gamification became widespread in the middle of the 2000s, when it was adopted by organisations for solving business tasks. What kind of tasks? By adding game elements into business processes companies strive to boost employee performance, make people more engaged, and teams – more united.

According to Gartner , in 2015 more than 50% organisations will gamify some of their processes. According to the forecast made by the Los Angeles Times, in 2016 gamification expenses will reach 2.8 bio USD. Nowadays brands are not just talking about themselves, they are striving to involve their consumer into a dialogue, and offering them to play a game together.


Let’s play

A successful gamification strategy should be focused on achieving goals of both the players and the company at the same time. Kevin Werbach, a famous expert on business, suggests the so-called “6D” algorithm of implementing gamification.



  1. Define business objectives – the first step which consists in setting the goals that the gamification system is expected to achieve. The common ones are increasing customer retention rate, raising brand loyalty, improving employee productivity by using gamification techniques.
  2. Delineate target behaviours. What should the player do and in which order?
  3. Describe the players. It’s important to know the players in order to design an effective gamification system. The most important part is knowing what motivates players and makes their eyes light up. One of the popular models of defining player types was developed by Richard Bartle and includes four profiles.


Achievers focus on obtaining a certain level of success, as measured by points or prizes. Explorers are players who seek out the thrill of discovery, learning something new. Socializers care about interaction, teams, and being part of a community; for them social experience is more important than the game objectives. Killers are extremely competitive individuals who want not only to win, but also to vanquish other players.


However, this model is merely a framework and does not mean that everyone fits into a particular quadrant. One person can find in themselves the traits of several types, and in this case it is important to understand which type is predominant.


  1. Devise activity loops. There are two main kinds of loops: engagement and progression loops. The constant process of motivators appearing, leading to an action, and then to feedback is known as the engagement loop. Progression loops define the way the game goes from start to finish. The progress loop has to lead the player towards mastery through a series of obstacles.
  2. Do not forget the fun. With all the objectives, structures, etc. it is easy to forget that ultimately, gamification has to be fun and engaging. The game should be built in such way that a number of players can enjoy it.
  3. Deploy the appropriate tools. The tools are expected to enrich game experience. This refers to selecting appropriate game components, mechanics and dynamics and building the gamified system using the skeleton created in the first five steps.



The game is worth the candle

Nowadays games and gaming systems become an important element of corporate culture so often, that there even appeared a new position – Chief Networking Officer. Engagement is the most valuable resource. Success of the company depends on whether or not each employee is mentally and emotionally focused on the company goals.


On average, a new visitor of the website needs less than 10 seconds to see if they want to stay  here. If the user doesn’t leave the site within the first 30 seconds, you have two minutes of their attention.


For mobile platforms, there is even a greater challenge: according to Localytics, more than 69% of mobile applications users run the apps only 10 times or less. Investigation of Flurry analytics shows that only 25% of consumers repeatedly use an application within 90 days. Under these circumstances the need for effective engagement technologies is growing, and one of the viable solutions is gamification. Let’s see what kind of game mechanics can be used to engage and retain customers and motivate employees.


Depending on the time the user stays with you, they get more capabilities and superpowers. Progression takes place by “levelling up” after certain criteria are met. It usually gives new benefits such as skill or experience points. Accumulation discounts (e.g. “-5% after you spend 500 bucks in our shop, -7% after 1000”) also refer to this technique.

Referral programs

Technique which migrated from business to games, and then returned in an updated form. Existing consumers who bring new customers are rewarded with money, discounts, bonuses or extra points on the progress bar.


Achievements are a virtual or physical representation of having accomplished something. They can be easy, difficult, surprising, and funny, they are accomplished on one’s own or in a group.


Achievements allow players to boast about what they’ve done indirectly as well as to add challenge and character to a game.



Players love to discover something, to be surprised. This mechanic means that the user has to take an effort in order to learn something new. The main goal is to increase the customer retention rate. For example, a building materials store can launch a service that asks the user to fill a form, and then calculates repairs costs and sends the result to the user’s email.


The goal of this technique is conversion. If the user demonstrates the desirable behaviour, they get a reward. For example, “the discount is valid for 12 hours, there are only 100 toasters at the reduced price”.


The way to attract “killers”. For example, just a limited number of people can get bonuses for a win – so the players have to fight to get it. This mechanic creates excitement as well as an illusion of deficit of something. To make the struggle bitterer, some rare products or services can be offered as a prize.


This mechanic involves various communication tools: comments, follow-ups, discussions, feedbacks. The goal is to engage and retain customers.

In order to choose relevant game mechanics, it is important to define the target group and pick up right instruments that cover all types of users and solve the required tasks.

Adobe company can be a good example of applying game mechanics as an effective way of encouraging Photoshop users to buy the full (paid) version instead of the free trial. They involved gamification experts to create “LevelUP” tutorial game, which helps users learn Photoshop in a game form. Users are offered to complete various missions such as “remove red eyes” or “improve this photo”. Players can score points, win prizes and take a part in “Adobe Creative Suite 5.5 Master Collection” lottery.

German company SAP, a well-known software manufacturer, used gamification to improve employee motivation. It deployed the elements of gamification in the SCN (SAP Community Network), the professional social SAP network which is a kind of a link between partners, customers and employees. The users of this network can complete missions, earn points, get badges and reach some levels. SCN ranks are used by managers during employee performance reviews, and also they allow to form new project teams much easier.



Game must go on

Gamification is not just a trend which will quickly run its course. But don’t use game elements on their own, without mechanics, and don’t forget that the process of earning points is not interesting to the player by itself, the reward should have a value. And of course, it is important to continue monitoring the reaction of users and the processes – in order to be ready to bring new motivators or incentives into the game at the right time. Such is the human     nature – we need to be surprised and rewarded time after time.


Thanks for reading!


Related posts
Contact Us
[javascript protected email address]
Aleksey Zavgorodniy, CEO, Tel: +1 650 515 36 99
[javascript protected email address]
Julia Liubevych, CBDO, Tel: +1 650 451 11 06
[javascript protected email address]
Alyona Zhurba, Account manager, Tel: +44 131 208 08 07