Businesses are using game mechanics online to rev up sales (LA Times)
The Rising Wave of Gamification
Why Mobile Users aren't Checking In (Mashable) - most will do it for a discount ... but not for badges or achievements.
The last decade saw a huge surge in the gaming industry, surpassing the music and movie industry, to become the leading form of entertainment globally. Games like Call of Duty and World of Warcraft were still bringing tens of millions of users, year in and out, making their respective companies billion dollar giants. It is no surprise that other companies in other industries have take notice to the growing popularity of gaming (and of course the profit that comes with it), and started trying to replicate the gaming industry's success.
What successful games do to remain successful is to make sure the player always comes back for more, after all it is a business based on loyalty and subscriptions. These collective methods and strategies that the gaming industry implements, are now being used by other industries to boost their sales and consumer base. The usage of gaming strategies in non-game products has been given the term gamification. These applications include the usage of leader boards, rewards and psychological and behavioral techniques. Although the methods used in the gaming industry were here a long time ago, from throwing bread loafs to random people in the roman coliseum, to using travel miles in airline industries; none were so effective at using these diverse strategies as the gaming industry. The very nature of the business allows it to exploit these techniques to the fullest extent, simply because of its nature; creating rules and rewards are very easy in a virtual environment.
As we see more growth in internet and web based services, we can expect gamification to have a growing influence on the way online businesses are operated and used. Amazon.com and youtube.com has a rating system for users, encouraging them to post useful reviews and frequently update, while Facebook keeps its users consistently logged on by adding casual games to keep their players logged on even when their friends are not online. Of course gamefication has also spread to other industries as well, e-commerce being in the forefront of this innovative realm.
Although just as any other phenomenon that affects so many people, gamification didn’t come without its share of criticism and controversy. The main criticism stems from the idea that it can only work in a virtual environment and has limited applicability in other industries, which offer real tangible products at least for now. Criticism goes on to be more serious converging towards things like exploitation (recommended article to read), fraud and even addiction, and how if it can be used in games it will be used in other applications as well. Though it must be said that gamification methods can be used for the better, and it is. For example in our education system we award students with high GPA’s with titles such as honors or distinction, and maybe one day we will be able to even increase motivation of education through gamification methods
There is no denying that elements of Gamification are boosting profitability, loyalty and market share of many online businesses. However its applicability and ethical issues still looms uncertain and it is yet to be seen if Gamification is more than a buzzword, or an actual strategy that may have its name synonymous with game theory.
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