app gamification
Mobile & App Development

Do You Want More People to Use Your Mobile Solution? Consider App Gamification

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The number of mobile apps is growing rapidly, as is the number of downloads. New software products keep entering the market. These are fintech, educational, language learning, fitness apps, etc. In 2021, people installed about 230 billion apps on their smartphones, which is 63% more than in 2019.

However, along with this seemingly positive trend, there is a problem for business owners. When a person installs an app it doesn’t mean they will use it on a regular basis.

People delete 23% of programs in the first 24 hours, and 50% of customers abandon software after a month of working with it. As a result, there are numerous software solutions on the market but just a few of them have gained popularity and trust.

In a situation like this, how can a company retain users and increase user engagement?

One of the options for resolving this issue is to introduce app gamification into a mobile solution. It will make the software product not only useful but exciting to work with.

Gamification in Non-gaming Apps

Have you ever participated in a grocery store promotion where chips are given out for purchases? After collecting a specific number of stickers, a user exchanges them for promotional goods or buys them with a small surcharge. This significantly boosts sales as many people try to take advantage of such offers and enhances user engagement.

And you probably know about such a teaching technique when a student receives a sticker for the successful completion of tasks. No doubt, with such incentives, buyers and students will want to participate “in the game” again.

app gamification

The examples above are variants of app gamification, that is, the application of gaming techniques in non-gaming environments.

In mobile apps, this approach is used to interest clients, create a positive perception of a brand, involve them in working with programs, and enhance social interaction. By completing tasks and seeing their achievements, a client interacts with a product more actively and will not look for alternatives on the market. This is vital as user engagement is a top priority for any successful business.

Taiwanese-American entrepreneur Yu-kai Chou believes that app gamification makes users feel successful.

app gamification for businesses

Why App Gamification Is Important

The use of game elements in the game environment can become a mechanism that retains customers and reduces the bounce rate. This behavior is largely determined by the fact that app gamification is closely related to psychological triggers such as:

  • curiosity (people wonder what will happen if they complete a task);
  • willingness to be better than others (users like to compare their own achievements with the results of other participants);
  • users’ desire to control their actions in an app (and not to do what they are forced to do).
app gamification in marketing

Mechanisms of Gamification Explained by Scholars

By influencing these triggers through app gamification, the creators of a product form a positive attitude to it among users. A piece of evidence for this comes from a study by Matthias Koepp, Professor of Neurology at the Queen Square Institute of Neurology, University College London.

Scientists found that the achievement of gaming goals and the very fact of solving complex problems in a video game leads to the brain producing more dopamine. Therefore, including game elements in a non-game app can have a similar effect. That’s why users like to work with a program including such a “reward system”.

Gamification is also partly based on another psychological effect discovered by the Soviet psychologist Bluma Zeigarnik. The scientist determined that the memory of unfinished actions lasts longer than that of completed ones.

In other words, if a person has not completed a task, they “will not calm down” until they cope with it. That is why some app gamification levels need to be reached gradually, given the restrictions and rules. This encourages users to return to a program again and again.

eigarnik effect in gamification

App gamification is becoming an important part of mobile projects and the basis for user competition. The gamification market is growing steadily, it reached a record $12 billion in 2021.

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App Gamification in Action: What Elements Should Be Included in a Software Product

App gamification means developing a custom design for a software product and thinking through the workflow of a “game”. There are various ways to implement app gamification techniques in a program.

Developers and designers use the following methods to turn a one-time customer into a DAU (Daily Active User):

  • badges that users receive for performing certain actions;
  • levels that gradually become more difficult, motivating people to upgrade their skills, knowledge, or status;
  • infographics that illustrate the user’s performance and the dynamics of achievements;
  • rewards that a client receives as a result of completing “missions”;
  • rating of leaders, so that a player compares their results with the success of other participants;
  • in-game money that gets into the user’s “piggy bank” for achievements and which they can exchange for game advantages;
  • avatars that add a bit of personalization to an app;
  • closed content that becomes available to users for their achievements;
  • a progress bar that shows the percentage of completed tasks, and so on.

Let’s look at 6 examples of software solutions in which app gamification works successfully.

Apps for learning

Educational platforms are among the first candidates for app gamification because the learning process is like completing a mission in a game. About 80% of American workers believe that gaming-based learning is more fun than the standard way of obtaining knowledge.

gamification concept

An example of this is Deloitte’s introduction of game elements into a training program for employees. As soon as the company added badges, leaderboards, status symbols, and other gamification features to the process, the program time to certification diminished by 50%.

With the help of gamification, Microsoft managed to localize part of its products for 36 languages ​​using the “Language Quality” game. More than 500,000 employees viewed4,500 screens and found linguistic and factual errors in the company’s products. Together with this, a leaderboard was maintained, and the Japanese office won.

With app gamification, people can turn the learning process from a daily routine into an exciting pastime. Users obtaining knowledge in a relaxed way are more likely to succeed and reach their educational goals.

Another important fact is that eLearning is possible with mobile apps. So, mobile app users can study, learn and enhance their knowledge base on the go. Using mobile apps instead of desktop ones is convenient when travelling or going abroad.

duolingo gamification

Banking and financial apps

App gamification is quite possible to implement for atypical, “serious” financial apps. Banks and other financial companies are inventing new approaches that motivate customers to buy new services and actively use them.

Organizations are looking for compelling tools to influence and increase customer engagement. These are both desktop and mobile apps. This makes the user experience even better.

Emirates NBD bank implemented a unique idea through app gamification. The company invited customers to link their accounts to a fitness app to track physical activity. Participants complete tasks, pass levels, and receive rewards for achieving certain goals.

For example, if a customer completes a task of 12,000 steps per day, they are offered a 2% interest rate. Over 76 Android users are improving their health and financial well-being with Emirates NBD. The fitness app helps them not only to stay sane but have a pleasant time while doing exercise.

Australian CommBank implemented gamification to educate users on real estate investment. Beginners learn how to invest in housing without risking capital. When understanding the complex world of investments and practicing in simulated conditions, they can easily get a new type of income.

Apps for sales and marketing

Some brands use gamification to advertise and increase sales. They create game apps or embed game elements into the main business platform to attract the attention of the target audience and motivate customers to use their services. They also make sure that their products are available not only as regular PC platforms but as mobile apps as well.

So, KFC Japan increased sales by 106% with the help of app gamification. The brand, together with Gamify, implemented a solution that not only informed customers about new products but also offered to “earn” a discount.

Users of the game app became the defenders of the KFC fortress against the Ebi shrimp trying to take over the KFC world. As a result, the advertising campaign attracted more than 190,000 unique players, 22% of whom earned discounts on KFC products.

Australian bakery shop Donut Papi created its own gaming app to attract more shoppers in Sydney. The essence of the game is to find matches among virtual donuts and earn points. The player who scores more points receives a set of six donuts as a gift. The tournaments, which were held weekly, led to stunning results, and the customer base doubled.

donut papi app gamification


The above examples are far from all the possibilities provided by the gamification of mobile apps. The introduction of gaming elements makes it easier for people to work even with complex solutions, motivates them to use software products more often, and forms a community of brand followers. Thus, it increases user engagement and customer loyalty and enhances social interaction. In addition, it distinguishes a “creative” brand from other identical apps thus ensuring competitiveness.

With an MVP services partner, app gamification is easy to implement. Such a step will be useful for interacting with employees, customers, or students. After all, who doesn’t like to play?


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