Gamification Part 3: Loyalty & Engagement

In the Part 2, we’ve talked about the Player Motivation. We’ve discussed why should we know our players and why players play. In short, we can say that awareness of our player audience provides us the knowledge to design our games better for them.

In this article, we’re going to talk about Loyalty and Engagement.

You can see all the contents of this series below:

1- What is the “Gamification” & How can we use it as “Creators”
2- Player Motivation
3- Loyalty & Engagement

What is the Engagement and how can we measure it?

Engagement is used in a business sense, indicates the connection between a consumer and a product or a service. Engagement is the period of time at which we have a great deal of connection with a person, place, thing, or an idea.

Assume that you created a Gamified system that you believe in you did the best! How can you decide that your players are agree with you? In short, how can you measure the engagement? There are some(sure you can extend the list) metrics to measure player engagement:

  • Recency: How recent do your players play? How long is the response time of your players for events and actions in your system?
  • Duration: How long do the players keep playing?
  • Frequency: How often do your players play?
  • Virality: Do your players talk about your game?
  • Ratings: Do you get high votes (or good feedbacks) from your players?

The goal of this study is calculating an Engagement Score and improving the system according to that score. The critical thing about these metrics is you cannot just measure all of them and get a common Engagement Score. You should assign a weight to each metric according to the type of your Gamified system. For example:

Dating Application,

  • Recency: It is the most important metric. The recency of a dating application player is directly shows the engagement status. The response time of notifications, activities and other player’s actions is directly correlated to engagement. Besides, the recency of a player effects other player’s motivation and engagement. Say that the weight of Recency here is 35/100.
  • Duration: It is the second most important metric. If the duration time is high, you can say that the player interacts with other players for a long time. Say that the weight of Duration here is 25/100.
  • Frequency: It is an important metric but not that much. Comparing with Duration and Recency, the Frequency is not that important for a dating application. If your players are responding to actions quickly and spend its time to chat with others, you don’t look for frequency. Say that the weight of Frequency here is 15/100.
  • Virality: A dating application is a kind of socialising application. So, it is important to hear how good is an app from other players. Say that the weight of Frequency here is 13/100.
  • Ratings: Rating of a player is not that important if the player is using the app frequently, recently, for a long time. The effect of Ratings can be thought as Virality. Say that the weight of Ratings here is 12/100.

With the study above you can multiply your player’s metric numbers with the weights above, then you can will an Engagement Score for your system. You can study on these metrics individually and you can decide that which ones of the metrics you should improve for your system.

What about Loyalty?

Definition of Loyalty in a business sense; measure of commitment based on obligation or, in player preferences, degree of satisfaction. With this definition, we can say that the Engagement is an important factor but not enough to get loyal players. We should provide a system that players don’t want to leave or make players think if they leave the system they suffer. By using the term ‘suffer’ I mean that if a player doesn’t leave the system, he/she takes advantage of staying in the Gamified system.

Loyalty Systems is a huge subject it should be covered in a different single title. But at least, I can give you some examples to make it more solid in your mind:

  • “Buy 10 get 1 free”: Starbucks and Caffè Nero are using this model. They have loyalty cards which is stamped each time a player buy something. While there is nothing wrong with offering a reward or thanks to your most loyal players, their purchasing habits might not be negatively affected without a freebie. However, new or novice customers certainly will be affected. This model is still can be good for new players.
  • Virtual currency: Hopi’s Paraciks is a good example for this type (If you don’t know about Hopi, you can think that Paraciks as similar as gift points which comes into credit cards). Hopi gives customers Paracik as loyalty points after shopping. Hopi says “Your points are more valuable for today!” or “Your points are more valuable for this particular city!”. Sometimes 20 paracik equals $4x20 but sometimes $2x20 or $1x20. But you have only 20 amount of Paracik in customer’s account! Hopi always knows the value of customer’s currencies but for players, keeping track of real currency of a virtual currency is hard. That fluctuations or “award after awards” sensations make players feel good and excited.
  • Premium Accounts: Airlines apply this model frequently. After ‘X’ miles of travel, customer would get a premium card from airline company. This premium card provide customer some advantages like shorter waiting times on queues or “red carpet”. These applications have no cost for airline company but they feels customer “special”. Status is the driver here.

Wrap Up!

In this section, we’ve talked about what the loyalty and engagement are, how can we measure and how can we use these information in our Gamified system.

In short:

  • Engagement is the measure of the connection between players and the system. Engagement has its own metrics such as “Recency, Duration, Frequency, Virality, Rating”. We can improve the weak sides of our system by calculating the Engagement Score of our system using these metrics as weighted multipliers.
  • Loyalty is the measure of commitment of players. A system have to keep its players playing and a system don’t wanna lose its players. The area of creating Loyalty Systems is a wide area that makes use of Player Motivation, Game Mechanics, Emotions, Engagement, Feedbacks and Reinforcements. We will talk about these topics in next sessions.

The next step is learning how to design a Gamified system which has loyal players who are fully engaged with the system!

Software Engineer, Growth & Gamification Enthusiast

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