What is Gamification, and why should you care? Gamification is the integration of Game Mechanics in non-game environments to increase audience engagement, loyalty and fun. It is said to be one of the largest movements/trends of our time. If we do end up tagging along with gamification, it will fundamentally change the way we live and interact with everything around us.
Ever since Farmville, Mafia Wars, and Foursquare gamification has been flourishing. Companies have figured out that gaming is not just for the traditional gamer, but for the average joe as well. Now we are seeing credit card companies rewarding you with cash back, and airlines offering you free flights if you get a certain amount of travel miles/points. All of these tactics are being used by companies to bring in loyal customers, and take good care of them.
For most gamers, we love to be rewarded for our hard work. Human competition is nature, and has been around for ages. By being better than the other guy, we feel accomplishment inside of us. By rewarding your users you will build a loyal fanbase, and keep them coming back daily. This is what almost every website owner wants, and hopes for.
Now there is another side to this issue that people often think about. Sure the points and badges are fun, but sooner or later you will be creating a user base that barely cares about what you offer. They will keep coming back only wanting to obtain the rewards/prizes. This is one of the major downsides, but you can’t really stop things like that. Some people in life don’t care about fun and experience. All they want to do, is spend their time chasing freebies.
A few year back when the Xbox 360 came out I really loved getting achievements. I don’t know if you remember, but Call of Duty 2 was the launching title that almost every new Xbox 360 owner had. The achievements on that game were single player based, and were not easy to attain. Veteran difficulty was very challenging, and when completed showed that a player was skillful. Of course the online play strongly varied from single player, so single player skills barely mattered. I personally loved getting acheivement and felt like I accomplished something. Even though those achievement were not real, they are associated with my account serving as proof, and giving me bragging rights.
Now I know you probably won’t believe this part, and I don’t expect you to. I don’t have any proof of my thoughts, so judge me as you wish. I sat there thinking that achievements would be so cool if they were present on websites. I thought users should be able to earn points for doing special tasks like commenting, contributing articles, and contributing freebies. No social media integration was at mind because our top social networks today, were barely alive back then. Then the points that the users would collect could be redeemed for the prizes the site offered. As awesome as it sounded I had no idea how to write software, and therefore was stuck. I was just a puny kid in middle school, so you could not expect much from me.
Skipping all the way to present day, a few days ago I found a website called PunchTab. PunchTab in their own words allows you to build a loyalty program for your website or blog in minutes. After taking the tour I decided to join, and give it a shot. With nothing to lose I installed the lightweight script. From then our Facebook Fan page has strongly grown, and continues to strive. Being able to have this awesome feature made me were happy and I believe makes the site a better experience.
Being strongly curious and knowing that there are probably competitors in this field, I began to search for alternatives. The following websites I discovered provide similar or better features for user engagement. Currently many companies are flirting with this idea, and most don’t even know it exists. While visiting the services, I got hit hard with gamification knowledge. All of these companies do an incredible job at explaining why you need them, how it all works, and what are the costs involved.
Throughout this article you will find all the services nicely listed and explained to a certain extent. Please note that most of the descriptions are in their own words. Our goal is to help you differentiate between the services, and see which one suits your needs. All the headings and images are linked to the specified website.
1. Badgeville – Personal contact is required
Badgeville is a white label platform available for license on a monthly basis, on a Software-as-a-Service model. Badgeville allows you to increase the loyalty and engagement on your website. Once set up your users will be able to earn points, badges, trophies and more. By allowing you to manipulate the rewards, Badgeville puts you in control. Once everything is set up and running you will be able to obtain real time analytics from your users activities. We contacted Badgeville to give this service a shot, but their monthly license fee starts at $2k per month and up depending on your community size and monthly pageviews.
Here are some of the main features that Badgeville pushes:
- Facebook & Twitter Interegation
- Configurable Widgets and API
- Real-Time Analytics
- Flexible Behaviors and Rewards
Bottom Line: If you have the fluent funds, Badgeville seems like a great addition to any comminity based website. To give you an example of how it behaves, check out Thenextweb.com
2. Bunchball.com – Personal contact is required
Bunchball’s Nitro platform drives participation, engagement, loyalty and revenue for businesses. Through the use of game mechanics, Bunchball allows you to turn customers into fans. Nitro injects the best of social gaming into your programs and campaigns to make them fun, engaging, and compelling for your consumers, while driving business value for your brand.
Check out some of Nitros Amazing features that users can be a part of:
- Challenges Trophies Badges Achievements: give people missions to accomplish and then reward them for doing so
- Points: people love to earn them and to achieve them
- Levels: hitting a milestone, a stage of accomplishment
- Leaderboards: how is a user doing against his friends and everybody else
- Virtual Goods: gives users a place to spend their hard earned points
- Groups: join one or more groups to collaborate and compete
- Competitions: enable your users to challenge each other to get the high score at some activity
- Notifications: message your users in real-time, in the browser, in response to their actions on your site
- Social Media Integration: connects your site with social networks like Facebook and Twitter
- Poker: users can earn and burn points
- Trivia: enable your users to earn points while demonstrating their knowledge.
- Comments: enable your users to leave comments for each other
- Friends: track your users friend relationships, including managing invites & accepts,
- News Feeds: Surface and cross-promote all the content and activity on your website
- Toolbar: display all user-facing information to your users off a persistent toolbar that appears on every page of your site
Bottom Line: Bunchball is being used by some of the biggest companies like USA Network, Comcast, NBC, and Hasbro. Need we say more?
3. BigDoor – Free Sign-up
Unlike the rest of the crowd, BigDoor allows you to install a toolbar located at the bottom of the screen. With the toolbar you can “check in,” and work on earning your Influence, Comment, Share, and XP badges. Not only does the bar offer check in and badges, it also has deal that can be redeemed using BigDoor points. The sign-up process was very easy, and straight forward. Once you login you will be able to copy and paste the BigDoor widget code, thus installing the toolbar on your very own website.
Bottom Line: Simple to use and navigate. If you ever need help, contact assistance is strongly encouraged by the team. This shows that they care, and want to help you in the best way possible.
4. Iactionable – Personal contact is required
IActionable’s system does require some work before you can get going. IActionable strongly encourages you not to rush the initial setup, poorly designed mechanics can have very detrimental unintended effects.
Some of the main features are:
- Points, Achievements, Leaderboards, Levels, Advanced Gamification – Proper feedback is all about letting users know if they are doing well or not
- Notifications – Having a system that generates feedback is just about worthless if no one knows about it.
Bottom Line: We hate to be negative, but Iactionable does not attract us whatsoever. If we had to chose, we would try all the other options before selecting Iactionable. The website does a terrible job ate executing what the product will look like, or do.
5. Punchtab – Free Sign-up
Just like their tagline suggests, PunchTab allows you to build a loyalty program for your website or blog in minutes. So is it easy as it sounds? Yes! From personal experience Punchtab was extremely easy to set up and navigate. If you look to the left right now, you will notice a little red ribbon with “rewards” written on it. When you click this tab a leaderboard of loyal/active users will be shown. These are the people who visit us regularly and support us.
Some of Punchtab’s main strong points are:
- Drive repeat visits
- Encourage social actions
- Increase new visits
Bottom Line: Currently we have no problem with Punchtab. The service works quickly and functions without flaws. However in the future we hope to see integration with twitter, digg, linkedin, and other social media networks.
Is there a clear winner between this bunch? The answer to that question is No. These services provide valuable features, and do the task as specified. It is completely up to you to figure out what your wants and needs are. Our needs are meet with Punchtab, and we are completely happy with the results!
Now that we have broken down the Gamification subject, we hope that you will be able to decide whether you want to stay away, or follow this trend. If you have any questions, comment, or suggestion please let us know below. Please don’t forget to subscribe to the RSS-feed and follow Inspirationfeed on Twitter+ Facebook (100% Spam Free!) If you enjoyed the following article we humbly ask you to help us spread the word by sharing this article with your peers!