If only it was as simple as plugging in a Gamifier 2000 cartridge into your marketing strategizer à la Dr Peek here, eh? 😉 It may not be that simple, but it can be pretty straight forward!
First things first, let’s talk gamification and what it means.
Gamification in its broadest sense means using typical gaming principles, in a non-gaming context and is a technique commonly used within business strategy and marketing.
These principles include, competition leaderboards, points systems and rewards, achievements, progress bars, badges and avatars to name a few. When applied properly, gamification can be used to increase motivation, engagement, participation and loyalty. Due to the fact that games are ACE and us humans love to play them because of how they make us feel, something we’ve written about before.
No doubt you will have encountered gamification in the wild, in the form of loyalty points cards for your favourite shops and restaurants, unlocking achievements and rewards in apps or even embedded in your company staff training or sales team software with competitive leaderboards and progress achievements.
So, now we’ve got the definition of gamification down, let’s talk about gamification and marketing.
One way to easily implement gamification techniques to your sales, marketing or employee engagement initiatives is with branded games, which exemplify common gamification techniques in one neat, little package.
Gamification with Branded Games
This isn’t unchartered territory of course – you may have even seen some of the giants leading by example here. For example, Burger King with their Xbox releases, McDonalds with their Monopoly Games, and even LEGO which release video games for all their product ranges.
These days however you don’t have to spend the big bucks to get involved in this engaging technique. Branded games are more accessible than ever with white label games, available at various budgets that can help achieve your marketing objectives.
Here are some examples of gamification within branded games, that are perfect for meeting marketing goals…
Winner and Losers!
By their very nature games can bring out our competitive side. *Blushes.* 👀
Whether it’s playing for a sports team or a board game with friends and family, we’ve all been there, and let’s be honest, who doesn’t like to win? (*read obliterate the competition! Too much?)
Having a competition element is essential to giving your players motivation to play – make the prize a good one though, while you might have the occasional competitor who’s just in it for eternal glory, this is a marketing tool after all and they’ll need a good motivator to engage.
The simplest way to get the competition going is to use a leaderboard. If your players want to enter the competition they have to submit their score to it. Players will be able to see where they rank and aim to climb it!
If you have global audiences, add another level to the competition and see who’s the best collective performing country! Great for a little head to head competition between various global offices!
One important thing to consider here though, is not to offer a prize to the top spot winner. Reserving prizes for the top spot can dissuade players of lower skill levels from even bothering, which is no fun at all. Even worse, it can tempt out what we like to call TOP SPOT HOGS, who don’t play fair and try to cheat the system, more advice on that here.
Slightly different rules apply to an event or tradeshow scenario (turns out its much more difficult to cheat in plain sight!). In addition to a free prize draw on your stand to keep all skill-levels included, you could offer an on-the-spot prize for making it to the top of leaderboard, always good fun and generally quite loud as all the whoops and cheers draw attention and crowds too!
In addition to a standard leaderboard you can increase the reach of your game by offering players the opportunity to connect with their friends via email or social channels, setting them up in a league of their own, offering great interaction and engagement.
Multiplayer options can unlock a whole host of new opportunities for your players and your campaign. As we touched upon above, we don’t half love to win! Direct competition against other players offers extra incentive to keep coming back, as well an incentive to share the game with their friends and colleagues.
Team multiplayer games, where groups of players work together for a common goal can also act as a great icebreaker in a conference or employee training environment, promote footfall at your stand or even add an interactive element in-store.
Unlocking levels and achievements
If you’ve ever played any kind of video game, from a Mario to Zelda or Candy Crush, you’ll be familiar with the aspect of unlocking new features. Whether it’s a new level, a new character, extra coins, points or badges, you’re offered up content rewards in return for in-game engagement and play.
These ‘unlockables’ are a common technique which drive a sense of achievement and rewards good behaviour and performance.
So, how can you incorporate this element of gamification into your branded game whilst keeping your marketing objectives in mind?
Collectables and Pick Ups
Include an ‘unlocking’ function, where players have to find or collect an object in game, or hit a minimum score criteria to unlock a specific product related prize or a game exclusive special offer. Players will then need to go to a landing page on your website to claim.
Having these offers tied to in-game bonuses can help to perpetuate a sense of achievement for the player, but also raises awareness of your product and, even better, drives traffic to your site and sales through the special offers.
Levels and Characters
You could also unlock extra levels or brand related characters by completing the game in a certain time or finishing the first level, this would encourage continued play and re-engagement with your game.
Achievements act like little badges that celebrate a player achieving a specific behaviour.
You might have come across in a variety of apps or platforms, where you have personalised panel, which gives you an overview of what you have achieved and what you have left to unlock or collect.
Knowing how far you are in the process is psychologically very satisfying and rewarding players for their continued effort, gives them a little boost of the good feels.
Word to the wise
Using branded games to gamify your marketing is a great way to interact with your audience in a way that is familiar and entertaining, BUT, and this is a biggie…
A game must be built for the player first, with fundamental game mechanics in mind, the branded elements should complement rather than get in the way of gameplay.
If it is built for the brand and not the player, it runs the risk of being a something that might be super shiny and look great but has no real gaming substance, no real value to the player and is disappointing to play as a result.
To that end, seek out the advice of experts who’ll be able to guide you and help you decide the best approach and gamification mechanics based on your objectives, timelines and budgets.