Gamification at Mobile Casinos – an Overview

10th February8 min read

As part of Androidslots' aim to help our readers better understand and interpret the workings of the mobile casino industry, we've put together this guide explaining what gamification is, and how and why the theory is applied to mobile casinos. By understanding what gamification is and being able to identify it while visiting mobile and online casinos, players will be able to take full advantage of it, and be better equipped to avoid the pitfalls which sometimes come with it. 'Gamification' has become a thoroughly trendy influencing tool in recent years.

Since being identified and classified, it has been used widely by many whose aim it is to increase the involvement of individuals using their products or services. Gamification is applicable in any part of life where the participation and engagement of one party is valued by another. It is the technique by which game mechanics are applied to a system of involvement in order to foster the engagement and interest of the individuals using the system.

When gamification is implemented the system being gamified adopts elements of game mechanics outside of actual games to mimic the behaviours found during gameplay in other parts of life. It does this by taking advantage of the innate enjoyment humans find in working towards a goal with a clear set of instructions; fulfilling a 'challenge' and attaining a 'reward'. Owing to the demonstrable success of gamification in sustaining and increasing user engagement, it is not surprising that it has been used widely in a number of fields from finance to social media and from healthcare to marketing. Here we’re going to discuss the use of gamification in mobile and online gambling:

  • Why mobile casinos might use gamification
  • To what extent they are already gamified
  • How they might be further gamified
  • What the specific pitfalls of using gamification in online gambling might be

Why Online and Mobile Casinos Might Gamify

Why Casumo created their Adventure. Firstly, then, let's consider the advantages to a mobile or online casino of gamification. To answer the question of why casinos might employ gamification, one can easily opt for the slightly cynical and obvious answer: mobile and online casinos are out to make money, and the better and longer players are engaged in their casino, the more a casino can make from each player.

In the same way a real life casino might bring a round of drinks to players who look ready to leave, gamification in mobile casinos offers the possibility of creating a 'compulsion loop' by which the player responds positively to receiving rewards for continued play and choose to continue playing in the hope of gaining more rewards.

Of course, rewards come in a number of forms: it may be unlocked content, it may be a rush of dopamine that comes from moving up a leader board, or even the pleasure that comes from the social interaction with others who have similar interests (i.e. players communicating with each other, creating a sense of community which in turn may encourage further competitiveness with players developing friendly rivalries). With this in mind the options for gamification are wide ranging for mobile casinos who wish to encourage users to form an affinity with their brand over competitors.

Gamification Already in Use

It is not the case that gamification has gone entirely unnoticed by mobile and online casinos; many already exhibit elements of gamification that undoubtedly aid in gaining and maintaining users. A basic example of this is a feature of many mobile and online casinos, both real money casinos and those which allow you to play for free: unlockable content or games.

Unlockable Content

With this feature, players are rewarded for playing certain games by 'unlocking' others which only become available to play once the primary game has been completed to a certain degree. Alternatively, they may 'unlock' new avatars or other non-game related content. One place this element of gamification has proved a great success is Pocket Fruity mobile casino, at which there are a number of games which need to be 'unlocked' through player participation in other games. This is an example of how working towards a set goal can prove effective in increasing involvement of players in the casino as a whole.

Leaderboards

Leaderboard at the Casino Room. Another feature of gamification can be found in many real money casinos which display the most recent winners and how much they have won, often including an 'all time' table of winners and their jackpots. This fulfils two functions within gamification: firstly, there is a constant reiteration of the possible reward available for fulfilling the task - an important factor in encouraging the completion of the task - secondly, this introduces an element of competition into the casino by which players continue to gamble in order to beat the jackpots of those who have come before them.

On top of this, casinos which use progressive jackpots (a jackpot that increases depending on the number of players) may display the current value of the jackpot to entice players by the promise of an ever increasing reward.

As an extension of competitive gaming, some casinos, like Virgin Mobile Casino for instance, have begun running slots tournaments. These tournaments credit either the amounts won or the amounts wagered by players, and whoever is at the top of the scoreboard at the end of the tournament wins prizes of cash or bonuses. Of course, the real winner is the casino, who will see a surge in slots playing during the tournament.

Virtual Currency

Some casinos have begun to experiment with virtual currency, which relates quite closely to the idea discussed above of unlockable content. It basically works in such a way that by playing games or depositing money a player will be awarded points to be traded for further content. The use of this at the moment is at a minimum and we will discuss it later when looking at possible further developments in the use of gamification in mobile casinos.

The Future of Gamification and Mobile Casinos

Some of the avenues that might be explored in the gamification of mobile casinos are quite obvious - further developments of what already exists - while others are slightly more unfamiliar.

Levelling Up:

Your mission at Casumo: Earn better belts

One feature that may become more prevalent is the idea of 'levelling up'. In this system, there would be a number of different tiers within the casino, each offering different games, achievements and related content. The reward would come when the player completes enough of one level or gains enough virtual currency to advance to the next.

To encourage participation in this system, the primary levels would be easy to complete and the player would progress quickly, while progress through later levels would be more difficult and take longer, though for greater rewards.

This discrepancy between the levels - known as 'variable ratio rewards' - would ensure that in the early levels the player becomes quickly engaged and experiences the thrill of quick progression through the levels, however, the casino wants to avoid the so-called 'shark fin' effect which sees the player lose interest with the ease of gaining small rewards and crave more of a challenge.

Stories:

A casino may also opt to introduce a narrative to the progression through the levels. Narrativisation has been recognised for a long time as an important trait intrinsic to all people, and the progression of a narrative can be an easy way of attracting and maintaining the engagement of a player through the progression of the levels in the casino. An involvement in the narrative is also a possibility, where playing a certain game may cause certain events to occur or parts of the story to be unlocked. Somewhere this has been capitalised on is Casumo Mobile Casino, whose Adventure< rewards system adds a whole extra element of narrative to play.

 Virtual Currency:

As mentioned before, the utilisation of virtual currency could also be exploited to a greater extent. If used within a tiered system, players might be encouraged to 'buy' their way into the next level; if used with a narrative, players might be able to unlock content related to the story. The one casino getting close to this kind of system at the moment is Pocket Fruity, whose Fruity Coins can be used to unlock new games, or spent in the Fruity Store to buy bonuses or real life rewards.

However, in basic terms, the potential to use virtual currency to unlock hidden content is not yet being used to the full extent that it might be by most casinos, and in the future it is likely that we'll see more and more mobile and online casinos utilising some kind of point system to engage players.

Community:

The chat's always lively in mFortune Poker

Of course, with the further development of levels, stories and currencies comes the possibility for the development of a community on the casino. By utilising forums and leaderboards on which players can compare their progress and achievement with others, a casino will be able to ensure players create their own sense of competition as they try and discover parts of the story already uncovered by others, or attain more points. This is seen quite widely in bingo games - mFortune for instance has a vibrant bingo community  - but other types of games are yet to catch up.

Dangers, Downsides and Difficulties

The way in which the gamification of mobile casinos is developed is undoubtedly important. While there are clearly many options in increasing the gamification of the casinos, the next steps must be tentative.

Going too far...

Casinos are, of course, at an advantage when compared to other implementers of gamification, as their users are already in a mind-set of 'gaming', therefore gamified motivations which may appear overtly game like are more likely to be tolerated. For instance, if a casino were to introduce the idea of levels, its users would most likely accept them being called 'levels', whereas in other sectors this may have to be dressed up as 'Gold Membership' or the like.

However, casinos must be wary of 'over-gamifying' themselves and perhaps losing credibility as a serious place to gamble. Players will be looking for a balance between fun and professionalism, so if the casino is perceived to be too silly they are likely to lose custom.

Finishing the story

Roadblock - No more levels!

Similarly, if a casino were to narrativise its use (i.e. create a story or quest for the player to follow to conclusion) this would fit neatly into the gimmicky world of mobile and online casinos, where the players are already familiar with the use of characters or themes to maintain interest within games. However, in this instance, the casino may want to remain wary of the narrative's termination; if the story comes to an end, will the player cease to play at the casino?

Too much effort, not enough reward

Balance work and play, buddy!

Other shortcomings of gamification like this must also be considered before it is jumped into with both feet. As we touched upon before there must be a careful balance between the size of the task and the size of the reward: the player cannot be expected to carry out extensive tasks for measly rewards, but equally they cannot be rewarded too often and for too little effort. Experts call this balance the reward schedule, and it ensures that the player is neither under, nor over rewarded.

Conclusion

In a market that is increasingly crowded and competitive, mobile and online casinos who intend to have a future in the sector must be on the look-out for new ways to entice and engage players. Gamification has the potential to be an incredibly useful tool to increase player participation which will translate into a bigger share of the market. However, casinos must heed the dangers of bad gamification to ensure that their gamification strategy yields the best results.

For more helpful guides and information about the mobile casino industry why not take a look at our Guide category, where you will find all our articles aimed at helping our readers optimise the way they play. You can also find more information on gamfication in our new Gamification category.

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