Is gamification dead when the market keeps growing?

  22nd February, 2019 By An Coppens

In the past number of years and especially this year, several magazines, fellow experts etc have called gamification dead. Yet, all market research reports are indicating it is a growth market. It is puzzling to me as a business owner in this space.

If gamification is really dead, then it must be a cat with nine lives. Gartner declared it dead, but then that was to sell books. Because of their rather strong claims, I guess it would have been wrong to bring it back in their hype cycle, whilst really it would have found itself in the trough of disillusionment. But that was 4 years ago.

Other experts in the last two years have also called gamification dead, mainly because I think they got angry with the industry or how it was finding its own way or they didn’t find their place in it. In any case, typically it had a soapbox or a book or a course or a program attached that they were touting.

Earlier this year Training Journal also called gamification dead. Now what I find ironic in this, is that many more training tools such as learning management systems and authoring tools now included gamification out of the box. So does that truly mean it is dead or simply that it has been integrated into more applications than we can think of?

Market research predicts growth

When I looked at the market trend reports earlier this year to write up my gamification trends for 2019, steady growth is still on the cards. The growth rate is slowing according to these reports, but it was not declared dead nor in decline.

Mordor research found the gamification market in 2018 to be worth about 5.5bn USD and they predict a 30% growth rate by 2024. Statista sees the market growing from 4.91 billion U.S. dollars in 2016 to nearly 12 billion in 2021. Markets and research find that the education gamification market is set to grow even faster, their analysts forecast the global education gamification market to grow at a CAGR of 66.22% during the period 2016-2020.

So if this mean gamification is dead, then I will be happy to be there at the funeral and take a slice of the pie in the meantime. Ok, I am being cynical here, but before you read clickbait headlines as gospel, do your own research.

I find it fascinating to read these claims and then to wonder what is truly the main driver behind them. If social media and fake news have taught us anything, it ought to be to research reality. Our reality in business was clearly going against the headlines. Our own growth rate has seen consistent growth for the last 8 years so when I read these things, I wonder why we are different. Or who is wrong?

Gamification is more pervasive than ever

Have a look at most applications on your smartphone, there will be very few that have not attempted to introduce gamification in some way or other. On your desktop, only traditional workplace software can still be found without gamified nudges, progress mechanics or other. But they are also reconsidering.

I would say we have to thank mainly social media for this because they have been the best in training us to look for likes, emoji and other nudges in behaviour. Health applications were the next in line for our engagement nudges towards going into the gym or exercising based on our own chosen reminder patterns.

Most learning related systems have added some levels, points and or badging systems. Love them or hate them, they have made an appearance. Either way gamification done well enhances results, gamification done badly doesn’t. So before you do a game mechanic sprinkle, do examine whether they are the right ones for your target audience.

To be honest, I am happy we are over the hype phase in gamification and that much more realistic expectations are prevailing. Also for every new trend, it will take workplace tools and software at least 5 to 10 years to adapt and adopt. So I can’t see growth slowing down in a crazy way in the foreseeable future.

Experience builders are the next big thing in learning and customer relationships, which I think is a great evolution in the right direction to put humans back at the centre and tools as enablers rather than centre stage. Ironically this trend can be attributed to gamification or user experience design especially when the attractiveness of games has been used as their example source. What you will also find is that a lot of experience builders have gamification at its core.

Gamification if it is dead, is a cat with multiple lives that keeps coming back. No matter how hard you try to get rid of it, you will always find hairs it left behind. In any case, that is my take on it, but by all means, do your own research.

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Gamification trends for 2019

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