When Gamification Fails

Broken heart gamerWe’re happy to say that we at Growth Engineering have had only good results from utilising gamification in our online learning. Our Gamified Learning Management System (the #1 in the world!) captures our learners’ attention and gets them loving the learning process once again.

But, we’re afraid, not all organisations can pull off gamification quite so well… Here’s a quick rundown of the biggest gamification fails:



learner distracted by mobile phoneThe shoe retailer thought it was on to a winner when it decided to gamify the review functionality on its website. Customers who left a review would gain a badge… which had no purpose. Honestly. Apart from maybe looking cool, it had no use – it conferred that the customer had bought a lot of shoes and left a lot of reviews, but apart from that it was useless.

So what’s the answer? Well, if Zappos had aligned the gamification to a proper reward, their gamified review system might have worked. For instance, they could have said that 5 badges equals 10% off one pair of shoes, and 10 badges will give 20% off. Easy, right?

Not only will they get more reviews on their website, but they’ll be more likely to get repeat business from these customers: they can’t give up the opportunity to get 10% off a pair of shoes – they’ve ‘earned’ that 10%, after all!

Rebecca 2Marriott

The Marriott Hotel Group did something… strange… on Facebook in 2013. In order to attract new recruits, Marriott created a game, much like Farmville.

Users had to help their character run a hotel kitchen. They’d have to buy lettuce, make sure the chef had the order, and juggle all other kinds of responsibilities of hotel managers. It sounds like fun, except… it wasn’t.

How exciting is ordering lettuce? Inspecting food to make sure it met the hotel’s standards? What a huge, costly mistake! Apparently, Marriott had intended to roll out more chapters of the game to focus on different areas of running a hotel business, but that never materialised – not surprising, really.

Getting gamification right isn’t as simple as awarding points and badges for activities, or trying to create a game that revolves around a certain topic. There’s so much more to consider when it comes to adding gamification to an organisation’s strategy – whether it’s consumer, recruitment, marketing or learning.

Find out more about how to get gamification right!

Download our free white paper – Effective Use of Gamification in a Business


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