Gamification in casino sites
Gamification, the application of game mechanisms to engage and win over an audience, isn’t just a trend. It’s a working tactic, with a plethora of psychology, human behaviour, and sociology studies proving its power. Wherever you go on the internet, you will see (or even better you won’t as the more subtle it is, the better the results) gamification examples. The iGaming industry is no different and it has used the tactic to create loyal returning consumers.
What is gamification
By being given incentives to always chase a goal, “gamification artists”, to borrow a phrase used by the father of meaningful gamification, Dr Scott Nicholson, poke some of our most primitive instincts. There are five core human instincts touched by gamification practices:
- The hunt for status
- Cooperation and community instincts
- Desire for knowledge
- Competitiveness and achievement
It’s the latter two that interest online casino sites the most and they try to awaken them, the same way that practically every business around us does. And as we’ve already mentioned, most of the time, it’s not even obvious. Just imagine when you first created a LinkedIn profile. Remember the “profile strength bar”? Most of us tried to max it, spending more time on the platform and feeding it with data. Yet another example. Have you ever left a Google review? How cool is it when people find it helpful? Do you feel you need to write more of those when learning that 5.000 people have read your review? And what about that smartwatch? Did you make your steps goal today? If you don’t, will you feel bad about it?
Gamification is everywhere and it should go without saying that in gambling, where game and hunt for achievement is the product, it holds a key role.
Gamification implemented in gambling
There are three parts in every gamification concept: Goal, Activity, and Reward, always seen from the perspective of the activity designer. If that is a school teacher, the goal might be for the students to comprehend algebra. In the case of a gambling (or any e-commerce) company, the goal is increased revenue. The third part, reward, is the simplest. What will the consumer gain for engaging in the activity? Should it be money (or the chance to win money), should it be points? Should it be something mysterious that they don’t know? Really, it could be anything. As for activity, that’s the most important and hardest-to-create aspect, the one that binds the other two in the darkness of the unknown.
While it’s the reward that will hook the customer, the activity is sneakily more important. A boring activity, like taking an hour-long survey for a marginal chance to win a laptop, is not worth it. As human beings, we have a very high hope bias, ignoring the odds that are stacked against us if we have our eyes on the prize, but when the balance isn’t between odds and reward, but between time or work and reward, then we tend to be more sceptical.
So the activity needs to be easy, quick, fun, or a combination of the three. And here’s where we have to make a final distinction between the two types of gamification action, gambling companies use. You have internal and external action. Both are equally as important and used a lot by the iGaming industry.
Internal action is advertised by casinos and bookmakers and can take the form of casino sign up bonuses. If a casino offers free spins every Tuesday and Friday, people will learn to return every Tuesday and Friday. That return is the actual action. Not taking the free spins. External actions are more discrete, sometimes even sneaky. If you install a casino’s new mobile app, you get the chance to win big. Same if you like their Facebook page. You’re basically “trading” free advertising for hope. But it’s free, it’s fast, and it’s pretty harmless. So there’s no reason why you shouldn’t.
One of the ways casino sites use to increase player interest is to offer incremental earnings. So you don’t get ten free spins right away, but after you’ve spun on your own for 100 times, or after you’ve bet a certain amount of money (whether you’ve won or lost). This way, the casino has a bigger chance to hook you. This may seem contradictory to what we said before, about fast actions, but here it’s the fun factor that takes lead. The game is the reward.
Benefits for the players
So gamification is a way for casinos to nudge people to gamble more. With non-incremental earning tactics, players have nothing to lose when taking advantage of free perks. As for incremental earning actions, the player knows the odds in advance. They would have traded their money for the fun, the thrill, and the hope a casino provides. Now they have an extra advantage to get a few free spins, which they would have paid for anyway.