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The Latest in Gamification – The Future of Loyalty Rewards?

by Dirk_Tracy - April 15, 2017

Gamification – when you look it up in the dictionary you’ll find definitions that more or less all come down to one common denominator: making something more fun, in a playful manner. In general the gamification process is applied to serious work tasks or similar social activities or obligations, as they often have the tendency to be either annoying, repetitive, or mind numbingly boring – three ‘perks’ that aren’t exactly motivating!

The gamification of such tasks seems like a very logical step to increase general participation, and this has – since around 2010 –  been proven to actually work very well indeed, so what’s stopping developers in various sectors to apply gamification value to anything marketable really? The answer is: nothing! I might make it sound a little dramatic with that last sentence, and to be frank, in a certain way it could be (think of increased danger of addiction), but that’s definitely not the intent of this article.  In fact, it’s more of the opposite, as i am a big fan of some of the developers that are currently playing around with various gamification concepts – some of which i have already tested – and all i could see then, and all i can still see now, is huge potential.

All Casino operators, game developers and other businesses that have any interest in the sale of entertainment related products, would be wise to take a look at what gamification could mean for them: it’s the trend that is going to make or break the longevity of certain products, especially in games and gambling products themselves. Now you could say, how do you gamify a game, or a roulette table? Isn’t it the point of such a game to already be fun, i.e. entertaining? Well, yes and no. We all know most of the types of games that we may find in any Casino, apart from the vast selection of slots perhaps, by heart, and most of these are very similar, no matter where you play them.

And that right there is the first ‘point of contact’ where the gamification process could be applied to improve a game. As an example, say you deposit at three of your favourite Casino’s, in each of your weekly sessions, where you tend to play their slots with one half of your bankroll, reserving the other half for the roulette table, but lately you have been bored a bit with the latter, so this time, you play your first two Casino sessions on slots only. Then you enter the lobby of Casino nr. three, and lo and behold: a shiny promotional banner welcomes you, telling you there has just been a new game launch, which should appeal to you! It’s Progressive Bonus Roulette, by provider X! Now you can play one of your favourite games, but there’s a Progressive Jackpot to be won, and on top of that for each tenner you spend on the game, you’ll receive one bonus point! And you can of course fill in there, what those bonus points could be good for.

That’s a very simple form of gamification, of which you could state the Progressive is just a shiny carrot that no-one really wins anyway, and the bonus points are just a game-specific promotion, but i beg to differ. This is what gamification means, and on a slightly more advanced level: making things that are already well known, and popular, more fun, by adding gaming elements, be it interactive or reward related.

To see why this process is so promising, you have to take a closer look at what makes a gamer, or more specifically a gambler, like you and me, happy? What floats our boats each and everytime, and what are we really looking for when we start an average session? We then also have to look at the ease and user comfort with which most online, and mobile casino products can be played, to see if that can be improved, and then incorporate both findings into one formula: let me try to explain.

I deposit 25 units into Casino X, taking up my monthly 100% reload offer, and start to play with 50 units. My expectations as a veteran gambler are realistic – i know most of these sessions i will end up losing. But i did not come to lose, i came to win, and if i am not going to win, i am at least hoping for some playtime, excitement and entertainment, which could just as well be served threefold, were it up to me. So i start the session and play a few new slots – which throughout the years have been a lot of the same from various providers, cloning games of competitors, and even themselves – perhaps do a few Live Roulette spins, trying to ‘make a move’ on the pretty blonde dealer, and perhaps i play a few rounds of Bingo, or some hands of Poker – all of which is possible nowadays in most of the decent multiplatform Casino’s – and suddenly i am out of cash.

Now, remember that this happens most of the time, so at one point you may see it as repetitive, regardless of which games you play that day – it’s all the same, and you find yourself once again steering towards the most likely outcome:  bust. If you start to expect these busts, the anticipation of the loss might stop you from visiting either Casino X, or even any Casino, at least for a while, and that’s Casino’s had to come up with something to extend your interest, and get you to come by more often> as such we went through the whole evolution of Reload Bonuses, Complimentary Spins and Cashback deals, all of which in general meant reading a lot of fine print, and/or manually claiming Bonus X or Cashback Y, as the evolution of Bonus Abuse grew alongside simultaneously. This is o.k., as once you understand the basic bonus structure, and know the most common terms, you can pretty much make use of such extra’s to increase your money’s value, over an extended period of time, without much effort or care. But, it could, and can be even better, so much better indeed!    

What’s happening now is that some nifty providers are incorporating all of the above in a series of games, or even all of their games, so that you can collect rewards, cashback, FPP’s, or whatever they’ll call it, on your favorite games – no matter where they are offered – so basically provider-related tracking and loyalty rewards, which to top it off, also have some innovative features!

Now don’t quote me on the ‘no matter where’ part, as that is not yet a truth per se, but something i think will be possible in the near future – and even if i’m wrong about that, i am 100% sure that you will be able to collect and play with certain rewards throughout a group of connected Casino’s, be it by parent company, or linked through a pool via that provider’s system, much the same in workings, as with some of the currently available, and very popular, pooled Jackpots.

At the very least, you can collect amazing rewards that will definitely spice up your traditional gameplay.

And this is where we get to the real reason i was inspired to write this article. This snippet from a news article from one of my favorite providers, Quickspin (as of late part of the Playtech Group) provides a clear example of the kind of Gamification i am talking about, and the promise it holds:  


Quickspin has launched its innovative new Achievements Engine, which has been designed and developed to offer players a more fun and rewarding experience. The engine makes use of six unique game events that take place in all the supplier’s slots, such as when a scatter appears or when the player has a win with two wild symbols, and rewards players with Quickspin Tokens for achieving them.

Achievements are set over four levels, and pay out at each level. Players can then cash in their tokens to trigger the game’s bonus feature, which is usually complimentary spins but could also be re-spins, side games, and so on. Players can track their progress, as well as claim and collect their reward on a designated page within each Quickspin slot. It is a relatively simple tool, but one that drives entertainment value and fun by giving back part of a player’s expected losses.

Quickspin’s new launch is in line with Playtech’s strategy of integrating additional real-time engagement and retention features and functionality to its offering, enabling licensees to further incentivise, analyse and reward players using cutting-edge gamification, social and communication tools. Quickspin CEO Daniel Lindberg, said:

“Gamification is a hot topic right now, and here at Quickspin we believe we have delivered a perfect version of it with our Achievements Engine. By giving back players part of their expected losses via Quickspin tokens, we can add huge value to their experience. It is an effective tool for driving player engagement, too. Inside all of us is an achiever, a part of our brain that like to complete tasks in return for rewards. By building this into our slots via our Achievements Engine, we can better engage players and offer them a more fun and immersive experience. We believe our Achievements Engine sets the standard when it comes to gamification, and look forward to receiving operator and player feedback”

 

Now to add a further 2 cents: this may seem really new and hot of the press, but i can personally attest that i have already been making use of this token system for a few years now, as i am probably one of the few that has downloaded Unibet’s Spin City app back when that launched, and was really wondering why i haven’t been reading more about it, or seen it’s name pop up more often over the past years….

Whatever the reason (perhaps i unknowingly was part of a select group of players, that served as testing panel in this functionality?) i can assure you it really rocks. Instant access to Bonus Rounds? Tested aplenty, and whilst not all of them were great Bonus Rounds, some of them were huge, and almost every time they largely extended my playtime, sometimes after a withdrawal, sometimes leading to a withdrawal, that otherwise would have been a loss, and sometimes just extra playtime>thus entertainment.

With all the extra’s that could be incorporated in such a system, the sky seems the limit, and i can foresee a huge boom in popularity for this already much loved provider, which makes it seem a very good strategic move from Playtech, to get these guys onboard – perhaps a bit lucky, but i doubt it:)

But whilst they may be pioneering, they will definitely not be alone in applying this gamification process: in fact they already have at least one competitor that i know of, who is doing similar things: which would be Yggdrasil Gaming, also a very cool provider, that has been throwing around tons of cash to promote their in-game tournament functionality, and also has similar functions to enter directly into Bonus Rounds (which aren’t that widespread yet, but neither is Quickpin’s for that matter), of which i saw a few promising additions in Vera&John’s Shop a while back, so i guess we are only just starting to see the tip of the iceberg! The crux of the matter is this: modern gaming companies striving to be innovative and looking for ways to boost their overall player retention, can’t get around gamification much longer.  

Will be mostly fun for me to keep you updated on this, as i can hardly wait to try out the next exciting developments!
D. Tracy