Thursday, May 23, 2024

The future of gamification in SEA: Connecting brands with consumers through games

A certain segment of the population will remember scratch-and-win discount coupons, and spin-the-wheel lucky draws. While physical gamification – a marketing technique used by brands to drive a variety of objectives such as increasing customer engagement, driving footfall, and sales targets through games, may be less common than before, it is still practised across Southeast Asia.

Gamification today

Looking back at the height of the recent COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns across countries, one fact emerged – the gaming industry witnessed a global surge in mobile game demand, with an increasing number of smartphone users downloading games and apps.

With rising mobile penetration, gamification has started to evolve and will diversify over the next few years. It is now at a stage where its potential to connect brands with consumers is aided exponentially by new technologies and the increasing use of mobile devices.

While the majority compete within the exponentially overcrowded digital marketing landscape, one company in Singapore has developed a unique playbook that dovetails and deep dives into the psychology of gameplay at a granular level to cut through the noisy clutter and create revenue and mindshare.

Sqkii, a Singapore-based company that provides gamification marketing solutions to connect brands with consumers, is the creator of the largest cash hunt in Singapore — #HuntTheMouse. The success of its flagship #HuntTheMouse event is built on the game pillars of Why Play, Why Stay and Why Spend in its playbook.

Till date, #HuntTheMouse has attracted more than a million players looking for coins worth up to S$100,000 hidden around the island-state based on a proprietary real-time game map. In the recent month-long campaign, at least 3.6 million minutes of gameplay were clocked, with more than 8.1 million engagements registered on the game website.

On the commercial front, the game connected participating brands and players with simple brand actions such as purchasing groceries or bubble tea to help players get ahead in the online-to-offline phygital game loop. Sqkii’s carefully designed #HuntTheMouse game loop generated over S$1,600,000 collectively in incremental revenue for participating brands and merchants in two campaign iterations, each running for just a month.

Over the years, Sqkii has partnered brands for other viral games such as #HuntYourZodiac and The Magnum Pleasure Auction which clinched awards at 2023 Event Marketing Awards, The Marketing Events Awards 2022, The Loyalty & Engagement Awards 2021, The Marketing Events Awards 2020, Mob-Ex and MARKies Awards 2018.

The future of gamification

Allied Market Research highlighted in its report that the global gamification market generated US$9.9 billion in 2020, and is projected to reach US$95.5 billion by 2030. The figure represents a compound annual growth (CAGR) rate of 25.6% from 2021 to 2030.

Gamification is proving to be a powerful tool because it engages users, drives motivation and loyalty, and most importantly translates to revenue. After four successful runs of #HuntTheMouse and other brand-led viral activations, the company is looking to expand its presence and market its proprietary games overseas, starting with Southeast Asia.

Moving ahead, the next phase of gamification will see fast changes in largely three main areas. These include:

1. More personalised mobile-first gamified solutions

Standardised gamification is fast becoming obsolete. With 71% of consumers expressing frustration over impersonal shopping experience, and 69% of customers believing that companies should offer new ways to get existing products and services, more personalised mobile-first gamified solutions will surface as mobile phones displace tablets and laptops in terms of ease of use.

With more in-depth machine learning, the next milestone of gamification will possibly take on a more sophisticated and personalised approach in terms of game experiences and outcomes tailored to suit individuals’ predilections and information consumption patterns.

2. Greater online-to-offline phygital game loop

Businesses are gamifying operations from human resource to marketing activities. In fact, 93% of marketers love gamification[5] for what it can do to connect with consumers and drive sales.

Gamification is not just a technique. It is a psychological manoeuvring that creates the conditions to funnel and motivate players into achieving desired outcomes. Going forward, more defined playbooks and purposeful game loops will be required to attract and retain consumers with fresh experiences to drive sales from online to offline.

3. From Pointsification to Gamification

Gamification solutions thus far have largely taken the form of pointsification — a superficial approach where game elements such as points and badges are applied. Common examples of these are seen in reward points systems, or spin-the-wheel gimmicks. While these may serve to attract consumers’ attention at the beginning, they miss out the key aspect that allows games to retain their players — a fun and addictive experience that is rewarding in and of itself, and for some, the conversations and camaraderie.

The future will see more brands seeking to truly maximise their acquisition, retention, and conversion through gamification. Gamification solutions will bear greater resemblance to mobile games in which consumers can earn rewards through a curated, enjoyable, and addictive process. This is where the potential for viral appeal and the real adoption lie.

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DarrickUnwix on ASIA AEROTECHNIC