Mobile apps are the new Wild West of the igaming world but, like their historic counterpart, they offer as many pitfalls as rewards.

Plenty of igaming operators and affiliates have ventured into costly mobile app projects that are currently gathering virtual dust because they simply didn’t connect with their intended audiences.

So what’s the solution for keeping mobile players happy and coming back for more? If you’re really serious about mobile success, you’ll want to become very familiar with the concept of gamification.

Add Value (Reward, Reward, Reward)

Gamification’s core principles are things that igaming aficionados should already be familiar with: keep the player engaged and keep them coming back for more. In this case, it means doling out small rewards, such as in-game currency, free spins or reward points that keep players feeling like winners.

“No one likes spending time on gaming apps that don’t really reward them,” Ace Revenue’s Affiliate Director, Dan S. recently told us. “Gamification nips this problem in the bud by providing positive reinforcement in the mobile app space.”

If you’re having any doubts about whether or not gamification is a worthwhile pursuit, just take a look back at some of the big social gaming breakouts, specifically Farmville. That nonsensical virtual gardening app held player interest by continuously offering new rewards in the form of special crops and farming implements.

One of the ways players could earn these rewards was by logging as much time on the Farmville Facebook app as possible and it was very successful. In Q1 of 2011, when Farmville was already on the decline, it did $235 million in revenue.

Though Farmville eventually lost steam, its core gamification principles are still relevant today.

“The rise and fall of Farmville offers plenty of lessons that are very relevant for igaming operators and affiliates,” Dan said. “Specifically, Farmville taught us that mobile games need to continually offer players something new and interesting.”

Dan says that’s exactly the kind of thing that Ace Revenue tries to do with the mobile casino games it serves up its Silver Oak Casino mobile app. “If they’re not fresh and interesting, there’s just no reason for players to keep coming back.”

Make it Easy

When a mobile player sits down with an app, they want to play and they want to play right now. These players aren’t interested in complicated log-ins, excessive promotional offers or slow-loading apps.

“App designers who throw up these kinds of hurdles are really shooting themselves in the foot,” Dan told us. “We strive to find mobile games that take the player from log-in to actual play as quickly as is humanly possible.”

It short, all the gamification in the world won’t keep players hanging around if they never make it past the initial log-in.

There’s always time to ask players to log-in through Facebook or Twitter once they’ve already started playing.

“If you’re looking to gamify a mundane, even annoying, task, social media log-ins are the perfect opportunity to do just that,” Dan says. He suggests doling out a simple reward like free spins or player reward points for players who are willing to share social log-ins and contact lists.

Keep it Interesting

Engaging mobile players through gamification is an ongoing task that cannot be set on auto-pilot. If you really want to keep players coming back for more you need to be constantly offering new incentives and better rewards,” Dan says.

Farmville’s rapid descent to earth shows all too clearly that mobile players will not sit back and play the same game, for the same rewards, month after month after month.

“We look for mobile games that have a good track record of engaging players through creative gamification rather than the same-old, same-old,” Dan points out.

Keep it Fun

Gamification doesn’t have to be a scientific exercise because most of us already know what’s really engaging; plain, old-fashioned fun. If you don’t think your app is fun and worth re-visiting, chances are no one else will either.

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