It’s that time of year to look into the trend predictions crystal ball of data analysis. Having scanned through the latest reports on the gamification industry, the findings are quite contradictory. Some reports indicate a decline in growth by 2021 and others predict a steady 30% growth, either way reports do agree that it is now a multi-billion dollar industry. Here is how we see the gamification trends for 2018, based on our own experience and based on reports from various research organisations such as Gallup, Gartner, Deloitte, Technavio and others.
Hype is over
First trend that we notice is that the crazy hype around gamification has passed. Hype tends to come with ridiculous claims and a lot of people jumping on the band wagon, because it is “The” thing to do. It means that people who are actively looking to invest in gamification are now coming from a more educated viewpoint and really see it as a solution that may work for them rather than a way of keeping up with the hip trends. In fact Gartner, who predicted at the peak of the hype that most gamification projects would fail due to bad design, is now saying it sees companies introducing gamification as part of a larger digital transformation and innovation program. From our perspective, I find it a positive that the serious buyers will become more serious and that also means a lot of hype sellers will disappear, which makes room for those of us providing solutions that are working and sustainable for clients.
Present in most customer facing apps
Gamification is all around us in social media, websites etc. Most customer facing apps will have a game element here and there thrown in to either make you come back more often, create a bit of additional loyalty to a brand or entice you to try something new. Companies may now be aware that it is called gamification and not just fun marketing gimmicks. Mobile applications in particular will use elements from games to encourage uptake. The big driver for this trend is that it has become easier to implement fun measurements, dashboards, rewards and achievement tokens into most applications. As a customer always ask the question, what do you think the vendor is trying to achieve with a game mechanic. As a buyer have a clear objective and think long term, not just campaign but rather aim for a loyal community of customers.
Gamification of HR
Several reports state that the next growth area for gamification is the field of Human Resources and HRTech in general. In my personal opinion, HR Tech has been the poor unfortunate sibling when it comes to major innovation investment. Typically the likes of Fintech and other areas with deeper pockets and larger budgets, seem to attract innovation far ahead of HR. Saying that, we have noticed a distinct increase in enquiries in this field and concur with the HR experts that there is a definite increase in appetite in this area. Josh Bersin from Deloitte pointed out that gamification in HR would span across several business processes and not just simply applied to learning. As part of a digitalisation strategy for the HR process, gamification fits right in; especially when you want to put employees at the centre of the process. Employee engagement strategies include elements of gamification especially around skills evidence based recruitment, feedback, performance management and increasingly well-being and benefits. It is our area of focus for the coming year, and also what we have been working with since the beginning of the company, so speak to us around your objectives and we will tell you how we can assist.
Ed-tech driving gamification of VR and AR
Gamification has been slow to find its way into virtual reality and augmented reality, although both technologies actually are actually often made on game development engines and hence pre-destined to included game mechanics. Most virtual reality designers and developers know how to create great experiences and storylines, so adding in the behavioural insights from gamification will both enhance virtual and augmented reality and stretch gamification experts to think in rewarding in a more real life kind of way. It will be fun to see how this will translate. We have our first number of ventures into this space happening with clients at the moment and we have to say it requires some additional brainstorming to come up with meaningful nudges and rewards. Think of it this way, you wouldn’t go up to someone in your office and give them a badge or a like, however you would probably get a pat on the back, a high five or a personal comment. I think it will make gamification and the underlying motivational encouragement we intend also more real.
Artificial intelligence is dipped into
Gamification platforms and engines are slow to dip their toes into adjacent technologies, but the first movers are starting to come up. Recommendation algorithms have been around in marketing and customer engagement for some time, typically they haven’t used gamification to work but they are going there, which is why gamification platforms (just like learning management systems, CRM’s and other enterprise softwares) are also venturing into adding recommendation style algorithms to their solutions. Some of the early day gamification engines are being left behind and newer faster adapting solutions are coming out. I am looking forward to the day where chatbots, or other AI team members work alongside us to educate and motivate us, my guess is that they will be better than humans over time at this too (but it won’t happen in 2018 yet).
Growing number of niche solutions & price points
Gamification platforms used to be limited to a handful that would stand up as an enterprise worthy software solution for enterprise budgets. However more and more niche platforms addressing a business process element are coming out each week. In the last 6 months, we were approached by at least one new vendor a month, if not more. We also found when looking for solutions for our clients that nearly for each specific problem there were some ready made apps as well as possibilities with existing and emerging platforms. We see the big players having to fight harder to maintain their position and niche solutions playing a bigger role. From a buying perspective it also means that the price points are becoming more affordable albeit potentially with some functionality limitations. Integration with existing software tools in the corporate sector continues to be in high demand. Hence being listed on major ERP platform stores is advantageous, whilst it doesn’t guarantee sales it does reduce the perception of risk involved from a buyers perspective.
Asian, Middle Eastern and African markets, where mobile is often the first device that allows for online interactions, are driving growth of gamified application development in these markets. The request is not only simply a mobile solution, but equally gamified at the same time. Mobile application development in these markets is fast and many niche applications are finding their way to the rest of the world. Multi-national organisations are also more and more developing branded specific apps to serve a purpose for clients and employees. Being able to deploy your gamification strategy and platform on mobile is a key going forward. If we look at any commuter train or bus, the use of mobile devices is all around us, so no surprise really gamification is increasingly mobile.
Asia will lead
Sheer numbers in terms of population obviously will help drive mass consumption. However we also see and have been saying this for a number of years, the appetite for gaming is high in most Asian cultures. With increasing access across the region to internet and development tools and a large young population, it comes as no surprise that some great solutions are coming from this region. I find when I deliver workshops in Asia that the ingenuity and resourcefulness is a lot higher than in Europe, I haven’t held any workshops in the US or Canada, so I mainly have a European reference point. If we look at the reports from research organisations, we see a similar trend. The need for everything to be mobile first is a barrier for some of the traditional platforms into this market. Always note that when you design a solution in Asia, the numbers exposed to it and accessing it will be a lot higher.
To conclude is the market growing or declining? Well we see the hype as dying but the market and growth opportunity for gamification still in a healthy place. The need for research to back up the claims made by vendors and evidence in numbers is still in it’s infancy. The challenge here is always when you have multiple game mechanics at play, which ones are the ones making the difference and it also makes studies maybe not so comparable. In short we have a growing market, with a need for more research and evidence to sustain it over time.
I hope you enjoyed our trends and I hope at the end of 2018 to have worked with you on a project or to have at least further proof that these predictions were well founded. Contact us to make your gamification project happen in 2018.