The Top 10 Reasons Your Gamification Initiative Will Fail This Year

Just like previous years, most organizations will not make the best use of gamification as a marketing, loyalty, active employee engagement or high performance team building tool in 2014.

 They’re ONLY concerned about offering prizes, points, keeping with the trends, rather than offer fun, adventure, excitement that gamers really crave.

Here are 10 reasons we've compiled why we think your gamification initiative will fail in the year 2014:

1.  Absence of Engagement Behaviorization– Gaming by itself often provides fun to an individual through a combination of different stages that involves socializing, exploring, collecting, learning, humor, and other sources of social and endogenous positive reinforcement of player behaviors.

But these classical gaming design elements are not enough to keep a serious business gamification intervention from fading in its novelty and effectiveness like last year’s video game.

What really sets highly effective gamification initiatives apart from gamification initiatives that fail dismally is the ineffective application of the science of shaping and reinforcing human behavior.

For example, gamification that ONLY focus on collecting (collect 10 points to win) aspect of the game without sufficient and individualized back up reinforces (sources of stimulation that increase the desired behavior) are failing by design. 

Put simple, a gamification initiative is only as effective as its immediate and delayed sources of reinforcement. Where's your engagement behaviorization

2.  Only Rewards, No Intrinsic Gaming Motivation – Wonder why “Call of Duty” is so successful. They focus 3 key elements to keep their players engaged – purpose, self-governance, and mastery/progression. A player sets out on a quest (purpose), has control over his action (self-governance), and he’s given everything to master a skill set to progress (mastery/progression).

A better way to understand these game dynamics is to analyze them behaviorally. Doing so renders the outcome of the analysis actionable rather than just conceptual. For example:

Engaged: means positively reinforced for the specific target behavior

Mastery/Progression: A better reframed in terms of the specific behaviors in question (clicking, watching, reading, typing, test taking, buying,  and on the sources of reinforcement that shape and maintain those high value gamification behavior targets.

Without any one of these attributes, your gamification initiative will fail to fully maximize player motivation! 

3. No Customization - Besides motivation (as stated above), the real benefits of Gamification start to show when games are actually in line with the vision, mission, policies, and culture of your business/company.

Your people have different expectations around the user-interface, sharing, collaboration, and rewards which depend upon different age groups, geographic, industry specifics, and so on.

Failing to customize the gaming experience to the specific business needs and culture will ONLY make it difficult to adapt to new situations.

4. All Technology, No Design - It’s been said that most business will likely add at least a gaming solution by the end of 2015, however, this year, it’s been noted that more than 80% of those applications are completely failing to meet the business and cultural needs.The reason was simple – poor design!

Sustainable and effective Gamification solution depends on several factors, not just on the technology alone. Most gamified solutions overlook the employee motivation, their loyalty, behavioral psychology, and their productivity level to design an effective Gamification solution.

5. Getting Repetitive - Fatigue and lack of interest in game will set in when it doesn’t provide the players with new challenges, purpose, or motivation. This will in turn diminish any interest the player has as soon as they find things repetitive.

Unless you make a conscious decision to keep things interesting, alive, and kicking, your gamification will fail, this year too. So, next time before you launch your gamification, make sure to consider for its future upgrades too.

For best results, roll out ONLY a part of the whole features so that your players will get continuous updates, especially when things start to get “stale.”

6. No Action When Things Starts Getting Stale - At first, every new initiative looks interesting and exciting, however, after a period, the hype surrounding it will settle down. At this moment, the usage of the program sees a decline and everyone keeps on guessing what’s next!

If you sense the players still passionate about the game, it’s high time that you take an action.

This is the time when you can organize several events such as mailer campaigns, recognizing top players with rewards and gifts, setting up meetings to get the focus “back” on the game. This will help convince your employees that there’s still MORE to come down the road.

7. Gaming Just For the Sake of GamificationJust like every other trends in the market, most people use gamification module just for the sake of, well, using it. Everything about gamification seems interesting – the concept is all fun and exciting, and many marketing gurus have praised its benefits.

But gamification may not be the right answer for your organization at all!

Sit down and ask yourself if gamification module is a necessity for your business. If the answer is NO, then it is better you to head into a different direction. Designing a gaming module just because others are doing it is a sure-fire way to waste your time, energy, and money.

8. Lack of Structure - Most companies have created gamified solutions that are vague, leaving the customers (players) in confusion as how to play. Although this may NOT sound a big reason, nonetheless, it still remains one of the reasons why many gamification modules fail.

Just consider “Klout” for example. It may have garnered a huge support through social media influence, but it does a poor job at explaining their players how to earn points!

9. Setting No Rules -  Just as lack of structure can make people confused, lack of clear boundaries can also be equally fatal for your gamification initiative. If people sense they can cheat in a game, eventually they’ll find the way and use it.

To prevent this, you’ll have to use what we call a “emergent” game play system into your solution, or at least ensure that cheating is not possible.

Right from the start, define clear rules so that everyone knows what the rules are!

10. Offering Way Too Much - Just like every other project, you may be tempted to give away TOO much from the start. If you offer too much at the beginning, you will fail to keep your users interested as soon as you run out of interesting ideas, later.

Listen, less is always more, and this holds to gamified solutions too!

Start small, enjoy first few successes, respond back to any failures that come along, learn from your setbacks before moving on to better and larger goals.

Summary of Top 10 reasons why Gamification Will Fail This Year: 

Gamification is undoubtedly an awesome tool to manipulate user behavior, but if it is just used for the sake of gaming and doesn’t add up to enhancing the user experience through exciting stories, adventures, reward system, and all those interesting events that people are often hooked up with, then your initiative will fail this year too.

Just make sure you avoid these 10 gamification mistakes.

Comment below to share your thoughts, ideas, and queries related with Gamification! 

We'd love to hear any examples you can share about those gaming the gamification system. What are some top examples of how people try to cheat otherwise powerful gamification platforms? 

Image courtesy of slworking:
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