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Best Gamification Platforms of 2021

If you’re planning on using gamification, you want to choose the best gamification platform there is. This post offers you advice on what consider to make the right choice.

By: Gal Rimon, Founder & CEO, Centrical

If you’re planning on using gamification, you’ll want to choose the best gamification platform there is.  After all, there is some risk. If you use it, you won’t’ be satisfied with a mediocre result. When you implement gamification, you want to shine. In part, so you can be the person who is revered for having the vision, creativity, and courage to use it to transform your business.

Your choice of gamification isn’t a nice-to-have choice. You want it to drive serious business results. Otherwise, it likely won’t be worth the effort.

  • If you’re looking for consumer gamification you’ll want to get engagement from consumers, have measurable results in behaviors, revenue or brand affinity.
  • If you’re using gamification to drive employee performance, you’ll want to see real return-on-investment, not just some nice badges and cute animal avatars.

Since gamification is strategic to you – whether to gamify learning, boost employee performance or to get consumers to buy more of your garlic-flavored ice-cream – do you know which are the best gamification platforms for 2020.

That’s a tough question to answer. The reason: sometimes shouldn’t be looking for a gamification platform in the first place.

Before we begin, let’s state some uncomfortable truths about gamification:

  1. Gamification doesn’t always require a platform

At Centrical, we often get asked if our platform (which is used for employee gamification) can be added to a mobile app, consumer website etc.

There’s a reason for such inquiries: people hear that gamification can drive engagement. They’ve heard of mechanisms like  Pokemon Go, and they want the same level of fun and engagement in what they’ve been working on.

Only the uncomfortable truth is that points, badges and leaderboards don’t make engagement. They are not a guarantee that users will be enamored with your product or service over time.  Points, badges and leaderboards are game mechanics, of which there are quite a few. Another part of this uncomfortable truth is that most, if not all, gamification platforms for consumer apps (and business apps too) offer those points, badges and leaderboards. Skeptical of that? Think about what would happen if you got 10 points for reading this article. Would you care? Doubtful. Would you be annoyed? Maybe… but this is what many “gamification platforms” do.

If you want to gamify your app/software/business – do something smart. Use gamification as part of the design of the app/software/business. Don’t slap it on like lipstick. It won’t work.

When does gamification work? When it is nicely integrated into the app. When it is gamefully designed? Here is a story about how it worked well for Karma Points and for Linkedin.

  1. Gamification doesn’t equal competition

Most people think that the strongest driver in gamification is competition. Research shows that this isn’t right. While some people are driven by competition, many aren’t, and the result can be dangerous disengagement. Competition is considered an extrinsic motivator, and extrinsic motivation doesn’t work in the long run. What drives people for the long run is intrinsic motivation – like a sense of a job well-done.

That’s also where the weakness of many gamification platforms lies. They take points and mix in some leaderboards and competition. Or they give points and generate badges. They can be incredibly powerful but only when well-designed and part of the platform. Most often, when applied through a platform, it isn’t.

  1. Gamification isn’t the equivalent to a cash award

Someone asked whether it was worthwhile to use gamification. The logic? You could give out cash bonuses instead.

Research shows this isn’t true. People don’t work more when paid more (think of what this means to the paychecks of top CEOs…) and giving them a small cash award can even backfire, as this research shows.

  1. The future of gamification platforms is in employee engagement

Have you read this article and decided that gamification platforms are useless? The answer is the opposite. Gamification platforms that just dump points badges and leaderboards over a consumer application are useless.

But there’s a message here. Designing gamification right does have considerable rewards and measurable business rewards. The rewards depend on good design and a natural tie-in of gamification to the application.

But in the case of employee gamification – for learning gamification, sales gamification or customer service gamification – the story is 100% different.

Why? Because 2020 showed us that gamification for employee engagement can and does work. Why? Because it isn’t about slapping on a video game or doling points. It works because gamification in the workplace can do quite a lot.

  • To drive better employee performance, it uses real-time feedback and goals (personalized ones, where the employee “competes with herself”) to reflect performance, like a Fitbit for work.
  • It can do wonders for learning. Gamification drives completion of learning activities and helps to absorb and adopt the knowledge.

Gamification can work. Choose carefully.

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