How Gamification can Increase Customer Interest
Gamification, (noun): the application of typical elements of game playing (e.g. point scoring, competition with others, rules of play) to other areas of activity, typically as an online marketing technique to encourage engagement with a product or service
Games, especially those with high-quality designs and graphics, have such an absorbing effect on everyone. It can make people stop and engage in a game for as short as five minutes and as long as five hours. This can be an option for businesses to engage in some business marketing with a well-developed game, as social game advertisements are relatively cheaper than regular ads. Everybody loves to have fun and be carefree. This makes people more susceptible to check out the ads while they take a break from real life and all its issues.
If done right, businesses can benefit from games, as they help make people become more familiar with the processes of a certain company. This is the situation with the Marriott Hotel game, which promotes brand exposure and awareness among its players. People who participate and follow the game’s rules basically learn about the processes of hotel operations from kitchen orders to room reservations and other amenities.
According to Daniela Baker, a game’s creation, marketing and launching can cost as much as $100,000 to $300,000. Businesses, then, have to spend $12,500 to $22,500 to maintain the game for at least four months. These expenditures are enough to make entrepreneurs think twice about setting up a game for their businesses. Other than that, there’s the risk that the game will not earn much popularity. That would make an expensive investment even more impractical to get into. This makes it important for businesses to properly weigh the potential returns and losses they might incur to develop a social game.
Another thing to consider is how they would tailor their marketing strategy with a game. Would a funeral parlor, for example, succeed in duplicating their operations in a game? Would a game like that attract a large following or would it result to a major flop? Wouldn’t an embalmer role be too morbid and creepy to play?
Before you think to dip your toes into the gaming business, let’s look at some statistics:
In the infographic, “Battle of the Sexes: How Men and Women Use the Social Web,” women outnumber men by at least 20% in playing online social games like Farmville and Plants vs. Zombies.
In fact, it is said that the older female demographic (40 to 60-year olds) play more often than their male counterparts. Women also play longer, as proven by PopCap Games when they commissioned Information Solutions Group to conduct a study on the gaming population:
This puts another spin in businesses trying out their own games for marketing purposes. As women are more active in playing social games, companies with female-targeted or gender-neutral games fare better. This makes it vital for corporations to make their games ‘social’ and appealing for the female demographic.
So, what makes a social game?
Social games can be found in social networks, which encourage players to compare gameplay and scores with friends or people outside their online social circles. Nick O’Neill defines social games as “…structured activity which has contextual rules through which users can engage with one another. Social games must be multiplayer and have one or more of the following features: turn-based, are based on social platforms for providing users with an identity and are casual.” [sic]
Facebook games like Farmville, Cityville, Mafia Wars and Tetris Battle have the characteristics mentioned above. The framework of those games caters to a wide community of players who need to interact with each other to move on to the next level. They need gifts like energy bars and other materials that only friends could give them. This, I think, is the primary attraction for women to play social games. Women, in nature, are more sociable and group-oriented. This kind of setup, the gift-giving and sharing of resources appeals to them.
This impresses the need for businesses to create games that would be ‘social’ in nature. It should be aesthetically designed and easy enough to play with enough features to keep players engaged and prevent them from getting bored. Develop your game with a knowledgeable social game marketing company to plan your budget well and minimize potential losses.