Last Update – December 12, 2014
If you are a startup, you are definitely in a competitive environment. Whether you are a news blog, daily deals site, social network or mobile application, you are probably facing some tough competition. You need to find some real qualitative differentiating factors between you and them. Game mechanics may be the solution to all of your problems.
An Introduction to Game Mechanics
First off, you may be immediately asking yourself, what is game mechanics? Basically, game mechanics can be briefly described as a construct of rules and ideas that allow for structured and enjoyable game play. Yes, I am sure more questions are arising. The best way to exemplify it is to look at a popular startup that is using game mechanics extremely well. A prime example is Foursquare.
Foursquare’s Success with Game Mechanics
The popular mobile application, Foursquare, allows people to check-in to locations and share it with their friends succeeds partially due to the fact that the concept of earning badges and mayorships excites its users. People inherently like to compete, earn and get rewarded for activities, even if it doesn’t equate to tangible or monetary rewards. Fortunately for Foursquare users, the startup has become successful to the point that certain venues do offer price discounts and rewards for checking in. Think about it in terms of a creative and participatory way of implementing a loyalty or rewards program.
The Loyalty of Game Mechanics
Clearly your business model may not warrant the distribution of badges or mayorships. However, it may be viable to decipher a similar game-like experience. Consider virtual currency, leaderboards or some deviation. By creating an environment where website visitors or customers receive added incentives to return to your site or compete against friends, peers and community users.
With the implementation of game mechanics you have immediately added a new level of user value. This will change the way that people interact with your company and its products and/or services. By utilizing this concept, you can increase engagement and frequency, both which will increase the revenues that you can potentially earn.
How to Gamify your Small Business
So now you may be wondering, how can I implement such a concept without overhauling my entire product? Enter companies like Gamify.com and BigDoor.com. These are just two examples of websites that are fueling an emerging movement to allow a variety of companies to integrate game-like features into their products.
BigDoor.com allows you to easily implement a variety of game features that can immediately transform your website or application into something that people will feel rewarded for using. You will be surprised how this addition changes the user interaction and dynamic of your product.
The Psyche and Payout of ‘Childish’ Games
As this concept may not apply to all startups, it does become critical to understand the intrinsic psychology behind it. As it may often be viewed as “childish” or “petty” to introduce game-like features into your product, it is also unwise to believe that there aren’t particular things that make us all tick as consumers.
As much as we all like freebies and tangible prizes, we are often appreciative when we accomplish something and get recognized for it. Whether the reward comes through being publicly recognized as the “Most Frequent Visitor” or through earning a free coffee for checking in with five of your friends, the psychological connection between customers and your brand can be nurtured by integrating reward driven applications.
A Business Case for Childish Games
I encourage you to consider implementing some variation of game mechanics and test it out to see what the results are. I would be surprised to find any negative effects if a well thought out game was implemented into your website or application. Begin by understanding why and how your users interact with your content or product, and how they navigate through it.
This should be the basis of the game-like features. You should incentivize people to do more of what they currently enjoy doing and recognize them for it. Create a competitive community environment that encourages more frequent and engaging activity. If you have already implemented game mechanics or have anything to add, please feel free to share your thoughts with us in the comment section below.
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