8 Tips to Create a Killer Gamification Strategy

Gartner report claims that 80% of gamified projects would fail. The problem is not with the Gamification concept itself, but the way people design their game mechanics..

The real value is in engaging and motivating your users at a deeper level.  Your game design should be based on your users journey. Every stage needs an understanding of users’ needs and desires and how you can give them a compelling experience.

Read some of the tips & tricks for a winning gamification strategy :

gamification strategy

1. Your Game Mechanics Should Drive Behavioral Changes

Implementing gamification techniques doesn’t means it has to be a complete game. Your game mechanics shouldn’t just be for fun. It should be deeply integrated with your goals & strategies.

The main aim of applying game mechanics is to enhance the whole user experience to drive positive behavioral changes in users. Motivating them to interact more with your content and take specific actions as desired by you.

Most people get caught up in engaging the user without focusing on specific outcomes. So, evaluate your game mechanics.

Gamification should help your users to interact X number of times more than they would in a non-gamified system.

2. Design the User Journey through Different Levels

Your game design should be designed for engaging users throughout the user journey funnel: where they are, what they will want to achieve next and so on.

Tips for Onboarding New Users

  1. When building a community, the focus is on getting new members onboard. Initially, offer simple quests with a liberal point system. For example, “Like” a piece of content or “Share” content.
  2. Give them welcome points when they come onboard.
  3. Let them play for a while and accumulate some points before asking them to join.

But the process shouldn’t stop at signing up. Your strategy should also guide them on what they are expected to do next to get promoted to the next level.

A little handholding will go a long way in giving them a sense of belonging to the community.

Personalised Engagement

Engagement is the most powerful metrics in Web 3.0.

Nielsen research says, “The truth is people don’t read very much , often scanning text instead of really reading it.”

So, you need to deliver a compelling, optimized site experience to keep your readers engaged. For example, you might have noticed “Recommended for You” box on various blogs and websites. This personalization trend was first started by Amazon and was widely adopted by publishers to help their readers in discovering more content.

A good game design should guide a novice user towards mastery while ensuring he doesn’t lose interest in between.

Retaining Users

Retention is crucial. You focus should be on turning your users into brand evangelists. Giving too much too quickly won’t keep it interesting for the top users. Once the user is at the top, what’s next.


An old joke making rounds in gamification circles goes as, “Give less rewards to users who are more active and more rewards to users who are less active.”

3. Focus on intrinsic rewards more than extrinsic rewards

Choose your rewards carefully. Too much cash stuff might quickly fetch you a lot of eyeballs but the readers will lurk around just for the contests and giveaways.

“There will be many to date but none to marry.”

You got to find a balance between cash & free products and intrinsic rewards. such as unlocking a limited edition badge, early access to content,

“Badges and leaderboards could be considered the new sweepstakes and loyalty rewards,”– Darren Steele, Mindspace.

The game mechanics should offer some inherent value to a user—even if that value is a feeling of goal completion, self-esteem or pride.

For example, Quora works on “Voting” as its main game mechanics. Votes offer validation. Higher votes means the user is considered an expert.

Badges should tie directly into your business goals and to what users care about and are proud of. Only then earning badges will provide the sense of achievement and encourage users to take a specific action to earn them. A game mechanic should deepen user’s engagement with your site.

4. Keep your Game Mechanics Simple

It’s not the game but the game mechanics that will have an impact on productivity.

Gamification mechanics should be simple to understand. A real game mechanic is short and specific – one kind of action leading to one kind of outcome.

Gamification mechanics

For Example, National Post has explained its mechanics as simple actions or rules with well defined rewards.

If your user doesn’t know which of his actions are getting him points or new badges then perhaps he won’t be motivated to earn more. All the levels and badges in the world won’t help you retain a confused user.

5. Keep it Real – Tie Your PBL with Bigger Interests

Foursqaure killed it with too many badges, mayorships. At one point, its top users stopped caring about earning a “Mayor” status. Once the user is at the top, they will soon drift away.

Design your loyalty program or rewards keeping this in mind. Is the user getting any benefit at all?

Foursquare realized that its gaming system has to do more than giving the badges. So they started offering recommendation for local stores and restaurants, discounts, tips, etc. on user check-ins.


Similarly, Frequent Flyer Programs aren’t valuable for collecting miles alone. Airlines gamify travel by designing Loyalty Programs to redeem acquired miles for free air travel; discounts or for increased benefits.

6. Get Social – Marry Your Game Design with Social Media

Your game design should be inherently social. Your game mechanics should be seamlessly integrated with the social media.

Ecommerce companies are doing it right by offering recruiter points to their customers for inviting their friends to sign up. For example, you will be incentivized by a discount on your friend’s first sale.

For example, Groupon’s “Refer-a-Friend” program. Shopify ‘s referral program offer “Refer 5 Friends to Shopify – and Your Store is Free!”

Gamification strategy

Encourage your users to share their achievements on social media. This will not only make your user feel good but will also motivate his friends to join your site as well.

7. Hire Good Designers and UX Guys

A lot of gamified applications fail to meet their business objectives primarily because of poor design.

Gamification is all about enhancing user experience (UX). A designer who is familiar with the subject can immediately start thinking about how a user and game play might converge. And if it’s poorly balanced, the user will generally have a poor user experience.

gamified applications

For example, #Nwplyng  a music app for iOS and Android has designed their badges to look like records to make their gamification relevant. There are also special Artist records which a user can earn on sharing.

8. And Don’t forget Bartle’s Character Theory

gamified applications

The best gamification is audience-specific. Bartle’s Player Types theory has classified types of gamers into 4 types; Killer, Achiever, Socialiser and  Explorer.

  1. Killers thrive on competition
  2. Achievers want to accomplish and complete
  3. Explorers want to discovers stuff
  4. Socialisers participate for the social aspect, rather than to play the game itself.

You can also adopt a player-centric approach depending on your gamification objectives, but at times, your users can display mixed traits. The player types are not limited to Bartle’s Player Types theory. So it is very important to identify your audience, metrics which appeal to them the most and the actions they are performing on your site to make decisions about your game design.

Adopt a player centered approach to enable meaningful engagement in all aspects of design. For example, the majority of FarmVille audience are ‘socializers.’

“Gamification is 75% Psychology and 25% Technology.”–Gabe Zichermann

Gamification isn’t a magic pill. Adding few points, few badges and a leaderboard won’t help you take the leap. Designing an effective and captivating gameplay need a thoughtful strategy. But you also need to learn by testing out different versions and learning which one engages your users the most.

Also check out Gamification Guide for Publishers.

Image Credit: FrankCaron ..


  1. […] them for their participation by implementing a thin-layer of gamification on your site. Gamification strategies_kmq.push(["trackClickOnOutboundLink","link_5228663334f80","Article link […]

    Pingback by 13 Crucial Steps to Creating a Strong Social Media Community | Betaout Blog — September 5, 2013 @ 4:38 pm

  2. Excellent tips, I like the phrase you mention :“Badges and leaderboards could be considered the new sweepstakes and loyalty rewards,”

    I would also include levels and points

    Comment by Hisocial — September 10, 2013 @ 4:29 pm

  3. Thanks! Points & levels are important but a point system is often core to many game dynamics. For examples in progression levels. But, points by themselves are not inherently rewarding, and are mostly a part of the reward

    Comment by Nandini Rathi — September 11, 2013 @ 12:59 pm

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