All in all, unengaging, impersonal content that more often than not is more about SEO than anything player related, or only there because well, everyone else has it. Don’t get me wrong; I’m a firm believer that this content should be on gaming sites. However, I think that with a little more thought, and perhaps a nod in the direction of mobile, social, and casual gaming, the whole issue of stickiness, user engagement, and player activity could be markedly improved with the implementation of comprehensive gamification to the out-game experience.
THE NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK
Casumo, one of the newer casino offerings to hit the market, and one of my current favorite innovators, has made some impressive moves to improve the whole out-game experience. Borrowing from proven engagement and gamification techniques usually found in mobile, social, and casual gaming, and marrying them with the standards found in real money gaming, their fresh-eyed take on what a casino site should look like and how players should interact with it is inspiring. Enough so, that a whole wave of traditional brands is looking at following their lead.
Breaking down the relevant elements to implement into a Real Money environment is pretty simple – they’re all relevant.
Implementing leaderboards similar to those you would find in Zynga Poker was something we talked about with William Hill years ago, back when Zynga was still the darling of social gaming. However, only now it seems to have started making appearances in the real money arena thanks to innovative brands embracing out-game gamification tools to enhance player engagement. The psychology behind the leaderboard is why it works so well – we all want to be number one, and we all want to be the best. Just play a little longer, and up we go, feeding our inherent inner narcissist and validating us as being the best player at WhateverCasino.com. It’s such an engagingly strong incentive that successfully encourages players to play more.
Online gaming accounts have always been dull, barely achieving the level of personalization that my name badge held way back when I was a teenage waiter – a company logo and my name in ticker tape. Soulless, overly corporate and uninspiring, the ‘my account’ experience is just not good enough by today’s fun, expressive avatar-based accounts we see all over the web. Seeing my name at number one on the leaderboard is excellent, but my name and my personalized avatar is part of my online identity, and I want to express it.
We’ve been implementing various levels of personalization with our gamification solutions for Winner Casino allowing players to get creative with their accounts, really making it theirs. Even with a finite set of premade avatars like those offered to PlayStation users, it’s enough to make the player feel like the account is theirs. It’s an expression of who they are, and we all love to express ourselves online. Let users upload their avatar, logo or photo, and now you’re talking.
From leaderboards came races – time-restricted leaderboards that announce a group of winners on it’s close. It’s the classic leaderboard with a lick of paint and a new engine.
With their continually updating schedules, and an abundance of races, each tailored to specific games, payouts and prizes, the players love it. It’s exciting, and it’s dynamic, with fresh, increased odds experiences every 15 minutes.
With proper analysis of player behavior and game performance, providers can offer an endless schedule of races, dynamically tailored to individual players that promote higher player engagement and keeps player activity at its peak.
Super Mario World had a beautiful progress map in all its 90’s, 16bit glory and the majority of casual mobile games today mimic that, providing players with a fun, visual user journey. It’s engaging, and it promotes progress, which in turn fosters play.
Working with both Winner and The Sun Bingo, we’ve been creating these player journies, implementing them in varying ways to fit particular player behaviors and gamification concepts. For Winner, using the classic top-down map like Mario World with a specific visual progression was essential to maintain the integrity of the creative direction, and crucial in giving players a clear and understandable path through each world. For the Sun Bingo, a visually stimulating scene-based set of zones with a fun progress bar more akin with what you might see in a video game was what the creative and player behavior commanded.
ACHIEVEMENTS, COLLECTIBLES & REWARDS (ACR)
Sports trophies in our cabinets, spelling certificates on our walls and badges sewn on our sleeves – we are all raised to be achievers, and we love nothing more than to show others and ourselves our finest moments of success. When we receive a certificate, a badge and a nice box of chocolates for our first place spelling bee, we’ve just experienced something that’s at the heart of the gamification of life. Achievements, collectibles, and rewards.
Mobile and social gaming catapulted achievements, collectibles, and rewards to casual gaming, and we implemented these into the Sotsfarm and Winner Super Slots with great results both on mobile and Facebook.
For real-money casinos, rewarding players has always been part of the experience, but its implementation has always been somewhat flat and samey with sign up bonuses, free spins, and comp points. Take the steroid-injected implementation of ACR found on mobile and social and then fuse it with the real money out-game experience, now you’re kicking player engagement through the roof and increasing player activity. It’s taking time, but ACR in an out-game situation is now starting to appear in real money casinos. Casumo has done an excellent job with their implementation of ACR, and many more brands will follow in their smart and innovative direction.
Since the internet social revolution, we’re all obsessed with where we are, what we’re doing, and when we’re doing it — # Anfield #YNWA #MatchDay. Check-In, check-in, share, share, like, like. We can’t get enough of each other’s activity.
Incorporating a ‘Social Newsfeed’ into online gaming seems like a no-brainer, and again, it’s something that we are starting to see trickle into gaming sites. The feeds enhance the player experience and player activity by providing users with an emotional connection to winning and being part of something.
Firstly, to player psychology, it’s a bit like the winners’ section on traditional sites – when we see the cheesy winners with their big cheques, it envokes an emotional, mental image of us winning too. What if that was me with the big cheque? With the social newsfeed, it’s like a catalyst for activating stagnant play. Players see a ticker update of other users on the site bagging a few pounds here, a few free spins there, and the odd achievement fed into the mix, and bang, they’re emoted into clicking the play now button.
Secondly, the feed gives players the feeling of community or being part of something – we can see this in Bingo sites where the community aspect to gameplay is a big part of the player experience.
TIMED BONUSES / LOYALTY BONUSES
Social gaming gave us small repeat bonuses every few hours to get us back in the game and rewarded our daily playing habits with a sliding scale loyalty bonus based on how many days-in-a-row we played.
Getting the players to return was all about MAU/DAU, the darling metric of popularised by Facebook. Before successfully monetizing, it was how apps measured how big they were and how much advertising revenue they could generate. The more daily active users you had, the bigger the brand and the more advertising opportunities arose.
For real money gaming, it’s all about retention and player activity. Incentivizing them back every day means they play more, and the incentive doesn’t have to be monetary. Incorporating some of the gamification elements into timed bonuses and loyalty rewards can also be an effective way to activate users to return to play.
Here’s one for the out-out-game. With the ever-increasing use of social media at the center of our daily life, stimulating the player base into action through their social accounts, and rewarding them, offers a two-pronged benefit to providers. Increased player engagement and powerful product advertising – A player that posts something on demand is an engaged player, and posting about the product makes the player an ambassador for the brand. There’s nothing better than word-of-mouth. Being creative with requests from players can further increase the engagement and also create hype around the brand.
TIER BASED PLAY – LEVELS & PROGRESSION
Rewarding players based on their progress level is something thriving mobile game Clash Royale has implemented very successfully. Clash uses progression and tier-based play throughout their model, and it achieves a level of playability, engagement, and retention that any provider should be seriously considering tapping into for their product.
One of the strategies Clash employs is that the more the player progresses, the better their reward – Clashing in Arena 12 Spooky Town awards more cards on a win than if winning in Arena 5 Spell Valley. It promotes progress by rewarding stages of the journey, and it’s super engaging.
Developing this concept for real money gaming is an exciting proposition, and ways to achieve it are endless with a little creativity.
Second currency to increase play
If you’re familiar with messaging, then you’ll be no stranger to emoticons, and if you are tuned-in to Twitch, then chances are you’ve seen how they integrate emotes into the chat stream.
If your gamification includes a secondary collectible currency, then what better than providing emoticons for players to buy and use in the chat stream.
Providers should be looking at this. Battle Royale for Slots.
CHALLENGES / QUESTS / DAILY TASKS
Create activity thru rewards.
Offer free spins, points multipliers as micro-purchases.
SO WHAT DO WE DO NOW?
Activity and engagement have been at the heart of mobile and social gaming from the very beginning, with gamification of the out-game a significant part of enhancing the experience and increasing revenues. Incentivizing social interaction and player activity outside of acquisition and the actual game itself has defined new ways to engage, retain and activate players.
Traditional casino/gaming sites are beginning to refocus on how they improve player activity and experience to generate better revenues. Rather than relying solely on old-school in-play engagement and off-site retention methods they are starting to incorporate everything we have learned from our social and mobile cousins. After all, there’s no better way to encourage action than through gamification – incentivizing the behavior we want and rewarding the activity performed is the key to successfully creating a truly engaged player.
At 11811 Games, we’ve been working with our online gaming clients doing just that. We’ve seen player activity shoot through the roof when launching gamification solutions proving that the players are loving how it’s changing their experience, and with considerable increases in stickiness, activity, and daily use/sessions providers are seeing that implementation of out-game gamification is worth the investment.
Want to know more? Talk to us.