The recent release of the much anticipated videogame "Grand Theft Auto V" (GTA5) stands testament to the power of gaming. After just three days, the video game generated more than $1 billion in sales. These record numbers are cause for any business leader to pay attention and to examine the key driver of such record sales: consumers love for gaming. Gamification allows brands to build a bridge between a consumer's interest in gaming and engagement with brands.
Games like GTA5 that use realistic imaging and are immersive offer insight into a paradigm of gamification that could be implemented for real world benefit. In the world of GTA5 for example, you undertake missions that require skill to complete. Imagine for a minute how a similar scenario could be applied to traditional consumer brands. Implementing gamification allows brands to interact with consumers in new, fun ways, ultimately increasing engagement. Because as the success of GTA proves, when gaming is involved, consumers are willing to spend.
Gamification is a versatile tactic, that when applied correctly, can reap tremendous results. The essential ingredient is to show that the points accrued for a particular behavior can be used to obtain what are known as SAPS (status, access, power, and stuff). Businesses looking for a boost in consumer interaction should look to implement gamification in several ways:
Infiltrating markets beyond your business
For brands that are well established, in particular, gamification can be a very useful tool. Most brands' consumer interaction is limited. Products like paper plates, plastic cups, toilet paper traditionally interact with a consumer twice: at the point of sale and when in use. But gamification allows these products' brands to expand.
Take for example, Heineken's "Star Player" campaign. The beer manufacturer launched the world's first live, dual screen, multi-platform soccer game, which in turn opened the floodgates for consumer engagement. No longer were beer drinkers interacting with Heineken only while purchasing or drinking the beverage. Now when they watched soccer and followed the games, the brand was there. The result? "Star Player" produced huge numbers with online mentions of "Heineken" increasing 78 percent over other league sponsors.
Creating an essential barometer
With so much competing information available, consumers can have difficulty keeping track. Easy access to information, which can be provided via records or barometers, is thus the key. Gamification can be used to create this environment for almost any brand. Take any digital game from Space Invaders to Candy Crush. The common denominator is that both games are awarding points for an activity, and in both of those cases, progress and mastership is a part of the game experience.
This concept where "points" can be used to track progress and also ignite a sense of "winning," is easily applied to a brand's website. For example, reward points can be offered for behavior that promotes the brand, such as: watching a video, tweeting, retweeting, Facebook "likes," and checking-in via Foursquare. Brands can even create levels where every series of activities gives the game the experience of leveling up.
Making a boring task "fun"
Brands that produce products or offer services that aren't necessarily "sexy," can look to gamification as a makeover tool. By adding game-like elements, an environment is created that fosters activity.
Take LinkedIn, for example. The 500+" connections on the social media site demonstrate status. LinkedIn has not only provided a best practice to connect with people, but also helped foster an environment where status can be gained by the number of connections. It took what was often considered an unfortunate necessity of the business world (networking) and created a "game."
Waze is another great example. It is not just an alternative to Google Maps (Google bought Waze in July for almost $1 billion) it's a gamified system that encourages users to participate in policing the roads. The more points you have, the more access to status and icons you gain.With nearly 50 million users, these game-like aspects have created a growing and loyal consumer base for the app.
These examples span the range of gamfication. The common theme, though, is the impact these aspects have on the brand's consumer engagement. As seen with "Grand Theft Auto V" (GTA5) record-breaking sales, consumers love gaming. And, while building a loyal consumer following is not an easy feat, gamification provides a potential platform from which brands can play to win.