Gamifying iGaming bonuses to level up player engagement

Gamification is, by definition, the creation of game-like experiences in situations not related to games. Given that its definition labels it as a strategy for non-gaming contexts, where exactly does gamification sit in the context of gambling – an industry that has games at its core?

It turns out that the beauty of playing some types of games is that you can keep adding layers to the entertainment. And in the case of iGaming, we can easily gamify the experience by capitalizing on bonuses.

A structure for reward gamification

Gamification is a relatively new term, created to label and structure something that has been happening for a very long time. In the last decade, boosted by the rise of social media and data analysis, a more scientific approach to gamification is emerging, borrowing a lot from game design. It’s still a fragmented field, with heterogeneous concepts and frameworks, yet it has great applicability, especially in business contexts.

A well-known and practical gamification framework includes Mechanics, Dynamics and Aesthetics or MDA, an analysis tool coming from game design. It can easily be applied to increase the appeal of gambling bonuses, which in themselves are an essential tool for attracting, retaining and reactivating players.

The mechanics consist of the set-up, rules and progression criteria of your bonus campaign, and they lay out and organise the actions a player should do in order to receive a certain reward – be it a free spin, a free gamble, or enter a competition such as a tournament. In our case, the “game designers” can be the operators, and they may also choose to enlist platforms specialised in gamification.

A thing to remember is that players need different things according to the stage they are at: someone who just registered on your casino might need a great onboarding experience, while an experienced player could enjoy the VIP experience. This takes us back to the fact that customer segmentation is among the first things to take care of before diving into any type of bonus strategies. You first need to know who you are creating the experience for, and how you can identify and leverage high-value players.

Dynamics refer to variables such as context, choices, constraints, competition and chance – and these can vary a lot depending on the type of gambling experience the player has. For instance, P2P games like poker are by nature a competition between players, whether cash games or tournament format, whereas playing slots or placing sports bets leads to more individual competitive dynamics. Unless, of course, a tournament layer is added on top to promote friendly competition in your casino.

Aesthetics has to do with emotions – Hunicke, LeBlanc and Zubek identify eight of them.  From this list, in iGaming, the focus should be on sensation (for instance, in-game musical and visual backgrounds), challenge and discovery. For instance, in a tournament, the way the experience is presented to the players will certainly have a lot to do with how much it manages to immerse them into the competition.

Details of the MDA gamification framework showing Mechanics, Dynamics and Aesthetics subelements

Gamification essentials for iGaming

In gambling, the reinforcements are generally extrinsic – meaning that they have to do with the actual wins. An extra layer of gamification gives you access to the intrinsic motivations of the players – such as having fun or enjoying a good challenge or reaching an achievement, and this is a key element to a strong, reward-based retention strategy.

Two types of time-tested experiences with a virtually infinite number of variations are tournaments, and missionbased or individual achievements to unlock. Both can be seriously enhanced by real-time leader boards, due to the social aspect they bring to players.

Devising profitable mechanics for either tournaments or missions is fundamentally influenced by the experience of the designer, as well as by the data it has access to. Data is what enables you to test and analyse which reinforcements work best to trigger the repetition of desired behaviours, which are the positive experiences most likely to build the loyalty of your players.

Data also comes in very handy for influencing as much as possible the dynamics and aesthetics that gamification will generate. For example, you can find out what type of slots get more engagement, then put those games to work by including some of them in tournaments, or in missions with a social component.

Tools of the trade for bonuses and gamification

With the right tools in place, operators get to easily create engaging and customized journeys for their players, such as dynamic missions around specific tasks, events and promotions, or linked loyalty programs.

It is important to be able to set up mechanics – or rules – in a simple way even if they are complex, and even more, to be able to update them when needed without breaking the player experience. That’s where a dedicated gamification platform can make all the difference.

Then comes the data we’ve mentioned above. As the masterminds of your players’ gamified bonuses, you need to be able to tap into their preferences, analyse them and refine the player experience based on your findings. A casino or sports betting platform bonus system that has the autonomy to be integrated with your PAM will facilitate your access to the data needed to shape the mechanics that will generate the desired dynamics and aesthetics.

Plugged into EveryMatrix’s PAM platform with the casino or sports betting platform, our BonusEngine system has the capacity to leverage a great amount of player data. Due to the flexibility of its modular software architecture, it is also integrated with specialized gamification platforms to make sure it offers the best tools to operators.

And that is what we have done in this case: BonusEngine joined forces with CompetitionLabs, interconnecting their strengths to enable remarkable gamified rewards that drive up engagement and loyalty.

  • Fully control the player journey: operators create customized experiences based on the data they allow BonusEngine to share for gamification purposes.
  • Instantly enhance engagement: CompetitionLabs permits you to adjust rules based on real-time visual data, and you can see the immediate effects.
  • Reduce the operational load: our bonus system automatically shares rewards based on the results validated by the gaming platform.

Let’s see it in action

What does it really mean? We’ve put together two practical scenarios that give you a fuller picture.

‘Tis the season for fun

Christmas, Chinese New Year, or Easter give people time for leisure at (annoyingly) the same time you probably want to take some time off!

Schedule an early Christmas campaign, planning ahead a series of promotions that lets you enjoy your time off as much as your customers do. Pick seasonal games from your portfolio and create different tournament types, or schedule extra Boxing Day or New Year achievements to give some extra cheer.

Automatically start and operate cross-provider tournaments with CompetitionLabs according to a schedule that fits around turkey time or a ham hangover.

You can quickly create a seasonal tournament in just 5 simple steps:

  1. Create suitable rewards in BonusEngine
  2. Log into CompetitionLabs and “Quick create” a new tournament in a just a few minutes
  3. Set up the mechanics:
      • Set the schedule, select the eligible player segments, select the participating games from any provider
      • choose the scoring strategy and set the scoring rules
      • configure the reward(s) that BonusEngine will automatically grant to players when the tournament is finished
  4. Save the tournament, which will then start and be displayed to all eligible players
  5. When the tournament is complete and the results are finalised, CompetitionLabs will securely send the results to BonusEngine for the rewards to be distributed

Example of a gambling tournament

Launch party! Missions to build your crowd up

The best DJs know how to build a crowd’s enjoyment by mixing and pacing the music just so to keep them dancing and partying all night long.

Launch time should be that party time, and every great party is all about the guests. Respond to your customers’ needs in real-time with BonusEngine’s in-game triggers coupled with CompetitionLabs’ mission capabilities to create a unique experience. Keep the party going with quests and hunts that keep players wanting more!

You can quickly create real-time single achievement or mission-based rewards in 5 simple steps:

  1. Create suitable rewards in BonusEngine
  2. Log into CompetitionLabs and go to the Achievement module to create a new single achievement or to build a mission.
  3. Set the schedule, select your badge or icon to use, select the eligible player segments, apply any mission-dependencies if you want to create a multi-step mission. Or you can just keep it simple, select and configure your reward(s) that BonusEngine will automatically fulfil.
  4. Save the achievement, which will start automatically and be displayed to all eligible players as soon as it goes live.
  5. When the achievement rules are met, CompetitionLabs securely sends the results to BonusEngine for the rewards to distributed automatically to the players.

A structure of a mission-based gamification of gaming rewards

To summarise

The beauty of gamification is that in it you can always find something that works for your purposes and apply it. It’s also what makes it an asset in the iGaming world, be it in casino or sports betting, and an even more powerful tool when coupled with bonuses.

It’s an approach full of benefits, and with a good framework and the right tools in place, operators can successfully craft strategies that yield increasingly better results from the rewards they offer. They also get to have fun in the process, playing in their turn at designing the next gamified player experience, and keeping score on which has the best outcome.

Read all the articles in our series on iGaming bonuses here.

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