App Gamification: Ideas & Best Practices

Alex Danchenko

Co-founder, Reteno

October 31, 2022

The last few generations of users who actively use computers, tablets, and smartphones have long been accustomed to their motivation being based not on duty and obligation but on interest and rewards. This is why gamification has a special place in providing a high-end user experience. Below, we will explain what gamification is and how to implement it in your digital product in detail.

What is Gamification and Why is It so Attractive to Users?

Gamification is a technique in software development when the interface is equipped with tools of game mechanics to engage, retain, and simplify interaction with end users. In essence, gamification ensures the introduction of game forms into non-game contexts: work, learning, and everyday life. 

As for gamification in business, it helps to increase sales, retain customers, boost employee loyalty (in the case of software for corporate needs), or learn with maximum involvement (in the case of educational applications).

Main principles of gamification

First, let's list the five main principles on which actionable gamification is based.

Motivation

Motivation in the context of gamification means the desire of users to move through the interface to perform targeted actions. In practice, motivation is achieved by introducing rewards, achievements, and levels.

Emotions

Gamification involves evoking certain positive emotions from end users, whether it be excitement, fun, or joy. Instead of going through a boring onboarding process, they perceive the introduction of a gamified interface as something interesting.

User engagement

User engagement in the case of gamified interfaces occurs when there is a causal relationship between "perform a target action" and "cope with a challenge". The end users perceive their activities within a digital product not as some kind of routine but as an exciting journey.

Presence of rules

The presence of rules in mobile app gamification explains the correct line of behavior to end users and encourages them to take targeted actions. In addition, this way you prevent the situation that they will follow the wrong path.

Feedback

In the process of performing targeted actions, users should be able to track their progress through the feedback of the application. For this, progress indicators, points, or something similar can be used.

How Can Gamification Benefit Your Mobile App?

So, how can gamification strategies benefit different digital solutions? Below, we suggest you briefly consider the main types of applications that are most attractive for implementing this approach.

Apps for education

Educational applications sometimes have a high entry threshold for end users. To reduce it, you can use app gamification. Thus, the learning process will be more like a quest than the boring activity that we are all used to in educational institutions.

eCommerce

Leading potential buyers through the sales funnel is a rather difficult task. To keep this from being too intrusive to the users of your digital solution, you can use tools for gamification in sales.

Corporate apps

Depending on the internal culture, some corporations may begin to move away from formal mechanisms for interacting with employees and switch to playful and friendly ones.

Apps for everyday, routine tasks

To make your application for solving everyday tasks more favorable with competitors (be it a delivery service, a guide to the best restaurants and cafés nearby, a calendar, a tracker, or something else), you can use gamification to increase customer loyalty.

4 Ways to Gamify A Mobile App. Step-By-Step Guide 

Before we introduce some great gamification examples in marketing, education, and everyday life, let's discuss how to gamify an app in practice.

Step-By-Step Guide of gamification

Choose a gamification object

Not everything can be gamified. Therefore, you will first have to select a few objects that you are going to gamify. But to do so, you need to set goals. For example, it can be done to stimulate the user to make purchases (in the case of an eCommerce app) or to complete tasks (in the case of an educational platform).

Build the gamification cycle

In theory, the cycle of gamification in mobile apps has three components:

  • Motivation — allowing the end user to feel the excitement of performing the targeted action. The base of motivation can be in competition with other users, receiving rewards, or something else.
  • Action — to get what the users want, they must perform a certain action;
  • Feedback — after performing the action, the user should receive a reward.

Use the correct gamification method 

If you have chosen competitive motivation, you can try to develop a table with the achievements of other users, and show it to a specific user at the right time. You can also add animated assistants that informally tell the user what to do next. 

For each correct action, the user should receive some encouragement (reward) — a kind of positive feedback from your app. Depending on your project type, this may be access to previously closed features, discounts, new user status, social approval, etc. It is important to understand that your rewards should bring some practical value to your target audience.

Simplify

The main goal of gamification in apps is to make the process of handling your digital solution easier for the user, and not vice versa. On the other hand, gamification requires a creative approach, so it's important to strike the sweet spot between fantasy and clarity for your target audience.

The Best Gamification Examples And App Gamification Trends 2022

To understand what it looks like in practice, let's analyze the six successful gamification examples that have taken the world by storm.

Duolingo

Duolingo

Duolingo opens our list of gamification examples. This is one of the most popular online language-learning services, and this application uses all the usual gamification ideas: achievements, progress bars, points, bonuses, rewards, and competitions. It’s hard to say exactly how much this affects the effectiveness of learning, but it definitely increases the time users spend in the application and keeps them coming back again and again.

Todoist Karma

Todoist Karma

It is one of the best examples of gamification. In a nutshell, it is a productivity game app that measures users' progress toward their goals. Its point system ranks and motivates the players to achieve goals. When tasks are completed, the players receive Karma; if they don't, they lose it. Thus, the users accept the challenge and, after finishing it, receive a reward.

Challenge Timer

Challenge Timer

The next one from our list of app gamification examples is Challenge Timer. This app uses the Pomodoro method, which breaks large projects into smaller subtasks, making them more manageable and easier to do. Task timer encourages users to complete work or exercise within a given period. It will be marked as "achieved" when the task is completed.

Habitica

Habitica

Habitica is a universal life organizer. This application turns the performance of everyday tasks into a role-playing game, and the main character is the user. Game mechanics separated into the categories "habits", "daily activities", and "tasks". For each completed item from the list, the user receives points in an amount commensurate with the goal complexity. In the application, the developers have also provided a system of levels and challenges that encourage the user's progress.

Epic Win

Epic Win

This app completes our list of best examples of gamification. This digital product is excellent for users who want to change their lives. It has creative characters and in-game animations, which creates a fun experience for those who can measure their productivity. Each player sets tasks, assigns, and completes them in this application. When players reach the goal, their characters get a higher status in the system.

Pizza Hut

Pizza Hut

And finally, we finish our list with an example of gamification from the well-known American pizza chain Pizza Hut, which since 2014 has been placing interactive touch screen tables in their restaurants to allow their customers to create their own pizza modulations digitally. As a result, such a "customized pizza" can be ordered as one of the menu items.

It is noteworthy that in the Pizza Hut application, instead of the standard use of a points system, the developers used only the disclosure of the creative component and the provision of feedback to end users. In addition, the process of creating a unique pizza takes place in an easy and relaxed way, which is very reminiscent of a game.

Conclusion 

We hope you have understood what gamification in marketing is and how to implement it in practice, whether it is the introduction of levels, rewards, special statuses, etc. At the same time, it is important to choose a suitable object for gamification and find qualified specialists who will implement it in your digital product. If you are looking for such specialists, please contact us, and we will do our best to ensure that your application receives positive feedback from your target audience.

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