Have you heard of gamification? This is one of the hottest trends in the gambling industry, and it has a huge potential.
Not a day goes by in our office without discussing gamification with clients. Having started relatively recently, just a couple of years ago, it constantly excites the minds of the people and, perhaps, can even compete with the most popular topic of recent times – cryptocurrency.
Despite the fact that the word “gamification” is on everyone’s lips, its definition is a bit vague, and customers understand it differently. For a long time, gamification has been more of a subject for PhD research than for discussion with i-gaming clients. Basically, gamification tries to transfer some game elements to everyday or work tasks. The theory is that if you add game elements to something (thus gamifying it), it will make it more exciting and useful without having to change it.
The good news is that this theory seems to work in practice. Gamification gives a bit of spice and variety to routine and mundane tasks, adding the taste of victory and the joy of achievement. An example of proper gamification is the popular Q&A IT development site stackoverflow.com and its many clones. The main idea is that experts answer complex technical questions for free. At the same time, they receive titles and badges and earn a reputation, which motivates them to perform high-tech and difficult work without any financial compensation. Perhaps this is not the only secret ingredient to success since Wikipedia, for example, has a similar model involving highly skilled professionals working for free. However, the StackOverflow scheme has proven itself to be successful and trouble-free, and many of its users find the experience useful and interesting.
How does this apply to i-gaming, you may ask? How can you gamify a game? It even sounds like an oxymoron. The game already uses or at least suggests using game elements, so what else can you add to it to make it more exciting? And should this really be done by casino operators and not game developers?
In fact, there are two options for using gamification in the i-gaming industry. Both are very important but very different. Let’s look at them in more detail.
The casino operator may be interested in creating a unique holistic environment for their players, that is, this type of gamification is based on the casino itself without making any changes to the games. This allows the casino to develop a unique gaming experience that creates a loyal customer base and satisfaction from using the casino products. With the right approach, this can be a strong differentiator among the hundreds of casinos with the same type of games.
But of course, there are risks. Can a Call of Duty or World of Warcraft developer create tricks outside the game to spice up the gameplay? Of course not. The game itself must be exciting, and if the game content is not interesting, no amount of gamification will keep people playing for a long time. Casino operators cannot influence or change the games themselves, and game developers provide their products to operators and ensure their uniformity for all casinos.
Therefore, it makes sense to introduce a superficial game ‘layer’ to make them more exciting, fun and rewarding. But can something go wrong with gamification? This is the question that every casino operator has asked themselves at least once: how much gamification is too little and how much is too much? There are examples of having too much gamification on the market, which show that keeping the player in an artificial (and, unfortunately, often boring) game built on top of standard casino games does not lead to success.
However, encouraging players to explore the site’s features and participate in exclusive tournaments, treasure hunts, and battles with increased heat and increased prize scale for the most advanced players works well if gamification does not interfere with the gameplay.
Practical gamification elements are relatively easy to implement if you already have a modern casino management platform with a bonus and customer loyalty system. First of all, clients build a ladder of levels. Therefore, creating a development plan that will make reaching a new level exciting and rewarding is necessary. Achievement options expand easily enough to include more badges to reward player actions. The expansion of bonuses includes prizes and exclusive bonuses based on achievements and levels. The overall user interaction algorithm and graphics, in turn, are the more complex and time-consuming parts where most of the discussion (and work) takes place.
When developing a gaming experience for a new or existing casino, it makes sense to use a ready-made gamification system, for example, Bartle’s taxonomy, which divides players into four categories: Socializers, Explorers, Achievers and Killers. Each of them should find something interesting for themselves on your site.
In addition to this, there are many well-known risks in gamification, the main one being the burnout of players who quickly tire of artificial rewards. You really need to think hard about how to take care of not only beginners but also experienced players and veterans, which is much more difficult.
The second fruitful use of gamification is in the development of the games themselves. If playing on a casino site is a relatively simple process, or the site is built on a modern platform, changing the games is not something that the operator can do himself. You have to rely on game providers to do this.
This is the most considerable pain of today’s i-gaming industry: are existing games good enough for a new wave of players? Unlike gamers of 10-15 years ago, modern users are well versed in AAA games with huge budgets, they are hard to impress with graphics, animation and game atmosphere because they have long been spoiled by hits and blockbusters.
The question is, can you use elements of gamification in games like World of Warcraft or other MMORPGs to make the gameplay richer? Will you be able to implement multiplayer aspects? Will you contribute to level development and reputation building? Looking at the latest developments in i-gaming, the answer seems to be a resounding yes. Hard evidence of the success of newer games like Satoshi dice or CS:GO tells us that the industry is ripe for change and a whole new gaming experience is just around the corner.
It is possible to see the prerequisites ещ the gambling revolution. To quote William Gibson, “the future is already here, it’s just not evenly distributed yet.” The games we now see in development are already very different from those everyone played 4-5 years ago. Many game developers add online achievements, tournaments, and treasure hunts to their products. The bonus game gets a lot harder and, frankly, more fun.
Even for operators who like the concept (and many still reject gamification), we recommend starting simple. By carefully planning additional features, it is much easier to release, test and modify the gameplay piece by piece. Undoubtedly, many elements of what is currently called gamification will become the standard functionality of any modern online casino. This is an exciting time for i-gaming, and many changes will take place in the coming years that will interest the industry and players.