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How to gamify a mobile app?

Mobile Development

How to implement gamification into business app?

App gamification is the use of gaming principles in non-gaming apps to attract users and consumers, increase their involvement in solving applied problems, using products and services. It is gaining more and more popularity, it is used in business, wellness, sports, education, finance, but is gradually being introduced in other areas. 

In this article with the guys from the Sannacode studio, we decided to share our experience that we observed from the mobile applications industry. We've collected the best productivity app gamification techniques that use game mechanics to make the process more visual and interesting.

What is mobile app gamification?

Gamification involves applying game dynamics from games to a mobile app, encouraging users to return to the app.

Gamification of your mobile application can lead to an increase in traffic and user interest in the product if everything in the application is done correctly - the entire gamification process is based on the principles of simple human psychology.

Gamification is a user-centered approach that increases product traffic and engagement. Since gamification means applying fun features from games to the tech world, it also encourages users to come back and try the product again. This tactic has a huge impact on human behavior, making things more interesting and fun for people. So let's find out why gamification is necessary for your product and how to gamify it.

How to use gamification?

There is a dynamic concept in gamification. This is the main concept behind the hidden structures that are not directly related to the simple rules of the game.

The dynamics includes emotional impact, the development of events in accordance with a single logic (history), schemes of mutual assistance, teamwork.

The gamification mechanics contains:

  1. challenges to achieve the goal,

  2. chances (components of luck),

  3. cooperation of the players,

  4. feedback (a visible immediate result of the performed actions "here and now", motivating progress),

  5. possession of resources,

  6. receiving awards,

  7. making deals with other players or virtual characters,

  8. prioritization,

  9. description of the winning situation.

Dynamics and mechanics are embodied in specific components. Gamification includes the following elements:

  1. avatars,

  2. glasses,

  3. levels or statuses,

  4. badges, virtual awards - indicators of the player's activity,

  5. quests,

  6. closed content (opened when certain conditions are met),

  7. current (frequently changed) ratings,

  8. leaderboards,

  9. presents,

  10. collecting,

  11. virtual currency,

  12. virtual goods purchased with play money,

  13. teams,

  14. online social connection,

  15. battle,

  16. interactive environment,

  17. external and internal digests of success - informational content specially prepared on the topic of the game.

The most frequently mentioned are multi-functional components: points, badges, leaderboards, collectively abbreviated to PBL. Despite their popularity, you should not limit yourself to these elements in the process of gamification of a mobile application.

So, open leaderboards with visible unattainable achievements of participants who have previously entered the game can, on the contrary, demotivate. Obsessive distribution of bonus badges in push notifications can annoy participants, prompting them to leave the game en masse. Simple scoring without the emotional support of intermediate achievements quickly tires and becomes boring.

Gartner analysts predict more than 70% gamification coverage of the world's most powerful corporations in the coming years - each of them will have one or more gamified applications actively operating, solving a variety of tasks from marketing to creating new disruptive technologies.

The awakening of a competitive nature in mobile application users mobilizes, motivates, works to attract more customers, and subtly changes habits.

8 basic gamification principles

Gamification is based on many complex psychological and behavioral principles. We’ll discuss 8 basic principles of app gamification.


Users must be motivated to interact. As you know, the most powerful stimuli for action are the desire to get pleasure or get rid of discomfort.

Any reward can be used as a motivator for pleasure. It can be a physical prize (iPhone for the most active users, free annual subscription, etc.) or an opportunity to get recognition from friends.

As a motivator for getting rid of discomfort, you need to describe as accurately as possible the reward and feelings in case of victory. Having tried on the role of a winner, the user does not want to miss the opportunity to win in reality.

It all comes down to understanding your target audience. The better you know what drives your users, the more effective you can influence them.

Unexpected discoveries

Bonus content, special rewards, unexpected praise, new opportunities - such pleasant surprises make people curious, which subsequently gives rise to a desire to achieve the ultimate goal of a competition, task or competition.


The desire for status is biologically inherent - everyone wants to be the best at what they do. A well-structured competition, which provides many opportunities to demonstrate progress and success, allows you to prove your superiority both to the enemy and to yourself. If you help the person develop a positive self-image and help them feel respected by others, they will follow the pattern of behavior that led to it.

Progress indicators, badges, leaderboards, public praise - these and many other formats for displaying achievements are incentives to action. Also post information about the progress of the competition so that participants can evaluate their results and compare them with the success of others.


While working on gamification, most marketers are primarily concerned with the reward, but few choose as a prize exactly what is of value to the target audience.

Rewards can be emotional, physical, personal, or stat-boosting. What will be attractive to your target audience depends on its interests and values. If you choose a purely physical product as a reward, make sure that its value is worth the effort that participants will spend to win - otherwise, there will be few people willing to participate in the competition.

Simple rules

It is important to lower the barrier to entry into the game so as not to alienate users. Make learning the rules as fast as possible for players. Do not set hard limits - find a balance between freedom and delicate direction of the participants along the path necessary for your goals. Use cascading information flow.

Cascading information feed

This principle of gamification of the application is aimed at lowering the barrier to entry into the game.

Serve information about the rules of the game in portions, at the right time. You have probably noticed that this is exactly what is done in computer games - learning to control and other aspects of the game occurs gradually, in the form of prompts that appear when necessary.

For example, the most basic rules can be set out briefly and clearly at the beginning, and the rest can be distributed according to the stages of participation in the game.

The achievability of victory

The player must clearly see the path from the start of the game to reaching the prize place. He must be sure that he can reach the top. If at the beginning of the game the user is in 2367 place on the leaderboard of the participants, and his actions do not significantly increase his rating for a long time, he will most likely leave the game.

Free participation

Sometimes - it depends on the specifics of your business - it is worth considering the possibility of performing actions without participating in the game. Perhaps the user does not have the time and desire to play, he needs to quickly complete personal tasks using your application. Promote the gamification system vigorously, but - if appropriate - subtly offer to bypass it.

Gamification strategies

Correctly selected gamification strategies will help to attract more users and solve the main business problems.


This element is borrowed from the RPG genre. The principle is as follows: the longer the user plays and performs more actions, the faster his potential grows. It uses continuous development, when for certain actions the player gains bonuses or experience.

This category includes loyalty programs in which the consumer accumulates discounts. The more purchases are made, the cheaper the next item will be. Development mechanics are aimed at customer retention.

Partnership programs

This gemification strategy is most commonly used in business applications. taken from business. The gamification of business processes allowed us to improve it according to the modern preferences of our clients. By bringing new users to the system, members receive a bonus, discount, points for further development. The instrument works on the principle of word of mouth. With top-notch service and social media clients, you don't really need advertising. Sociophiles will ring the bell that the product is great. Referral programs are used to attract new members and are very good for accumulators.


The point is that for specific actions, players are given awards (badges, medals, various symbols, tags in the profile). They can be exchanged for a bonus or discount. This technique perfectly attracts storage devices and is effectively combined with the pumping mechanics. Achievements are aimed at attracting and retaining project participants.


This is where the user should try to find the content they want. The goal of the method is to retain or return visitors. Let's look at some examples. The beauty salon has uploaded an application for choosing a hairstyle to the site. The hardware store has launched an online calculator for calculating the prices of repairs and is sending the results to the customer's email.


How gamification works in business according to this principle: a person who does the "right" thing gets a gift. The goal of the method is to increase conversion. Typical examples are restrictions during sales. For example, "The discount is valid only for 6 hours, have time to buy, there are only 30 discounted teapots left." Or like this: "For the first 20 clients who paid for a haircut, manicure is free."


A great way to get hitmen involved. Victory rewards are given only to a select few. This means that the players should try to reach the final. By the way, the competition goes well with other instruments. It's easy to boom and create the illusion of scarcity here. For the sharpness of the struggle, make a product that cannot be purchased otherwise. Another trick works well - invite players to give your bonus to the owner of the longest check. The goal of the competition is to increase conversions and retain customers.


This method is suitable for all types of communication (comments, reviews, discussions, feedback forms). The challenge is to attract and retain. The reception is designed for lovers of communication, who are encouraged for the number of written comments or attracted participants.

How to implement gamification?

Sometimes gamification of a business application does not bring the expected result. The company invests resources in the creation of a gaming system, but consumers show low activity, engagement is not growing. The reason in such cases, most likely, is that the system is not built well. For example, important principles of creating games were not taken into account, knowledge on motivation management was not applied, business goals were set incorrectly.

We recommend using the guide to building a gaming system from one of the leading experts in the field of gamification, Kevin Werbach. In For the Win: How Game Thinking Can Revolutionize Your Business, with co-author Dan Hunter, Kevin outlines 6 steps to adopting gamification. We will present them here with our additions.

  1. Set goals for gamification

Remember the acronym SMART, which contains the rules for setting goals?

Goals should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound.

Gamification tasks for your application (for example, increasing engagement on the website or in social networks, increasing conversions, promoting your products and services, etc.) must have these five characteristics. In the future, when developing a gaming system, you should constantly keep in mind the goals and bring each element of the system in line with them.

  1. Determine the target behavior of the players

Think about the behavior you expect from the participants in the gamification system. What specific steps should they take to achieve your business goals set in the first phase? It is necessary to describe all the chains of user actions; this will form the basis of the system design.

  1.  Describe the players

If you are engaged in internet marketing, we no longer need to prove that you need to know your audience. Without a doubt, you have web analytics data, imagine the main types of your consumers or readers, their interests and habits.

Now you need to study them even deeper, understand their needs. What do they want - interesting content, special status in the community, connections with other people, or something else? Do they care about receiving virtual awards or only tangible and practical awards?

Answer these and other related questions. Describe the different types of your players, their needs, and think about how you can motivate these people to take the actions identified in step two.

  1. Design the structure of the gamification system

In Werbach and Hunter, the structure of the game system has two levels.

At the micro level, there are cycles of engagement. These are chains “motivation to action → action → feedback”. You motivate the player to act, he takes an action and receives feedback from the system (in the form of rewards or other events that are the system's reaction to the player's actions). During the feedback phase, you must motivate the player to take the next action (for example, using calls to action and motivation management techniques).

At the macro level - the "player's journey", as the authors of the method call it. This is an exciting story on which the gamification system is based - the story of the player's development from beginner to master. The “journey” consists of many cycles of involvement and must have a pre-scripted scenario.

  1. Give users pleasure

You run the risk of getting too carried away with the development of gamification mechanisms and the structure of the system and forget that the game should be an enjoyable activity, entertainment. Otherwise, the system will not work, even if you ensure that the needs of the players are met. From time to time, try to look at the system being created through the eyes of the participant to see if the game will be fun.

  1. Build a gamification system

Consider using technology to power your gaming system. How will gamification be implemented on the website, in mobile applications, or even using physical devices? Pull together all the information and structure from the previous steps, add game mechanics and dynamics to them, and gamify a mobile app.

What's next?

This article is a starting point for those who wondered how to gamify a mobile app?

If you skimmed through the text and are now reading the conclusion, go back to the beginning of the article and read it carefully in its entirety: you will get acquainted with all the main aspects of gamification of a mobile application, after which you will be ready to develop a simple gaming system on your own.

You can leave a request on the Sannacode website and we will help you find a solution to gamify your business app.


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