38 interesting gamification examples to learn from as a product manager
What are some of the most viral apps in the world? That’s right, games! The psychology and elements behind these games make the user experience more fun and engaging. So what happens when you extract these game elements and put them into a non-game context? App Samurai states gamification for apps motivates viral growth, and increases app engagement.
We’ve listed up to 38 examples of apps using gamification to increase user engagement and boost growth. You will learn how they applied game-elements to motivate the user behaviors that help them grow.
Here’s what you’ll learn!
- Gamify your finances to save more with Smarty Pig
- How Qapital & Monefy change financial habits for the better
- Motivate product adoption to drive sales like OTP Banka Hrvatska
- Moven’s CRED program slashes customer acquisition costs
- Education meets rewards at PayPerks
- How Fitbit leverages gamification to keep its users healthy
- Spicing up your run with the Zombies Run app
- Freeletics leverages community to promote fitness
- How Headspace creates zen masters
- Nike collects more data through gamification
- How Urban Sports Club got more leads with gamification for apps
- How Woot uses scarcity to drive more sales
- Collecting the holiday wishes with Target’s Wish-list app
- Maximizing profits through unpredictability – The story of eBay
- Teleflora rewards users for being part of their community
- The one feature that helped UNice quadruple newsletter sign-up rates
- How SHEIN keeps shoppers actively engaged
- How the Gilt Groupe built a loyalty program on social rewards
- Rewarding app engagement & participation like Waze
- How Bird motivates people to charge electric scooters
- Boosting driver’s app engagement with Uber driver app
- How GiffGaff built a community-based telecom business
- How Duolingo makes language learning fun
- Turning classrooms into gameshows with Kahoot
- Todoist uses gamification to get shit done
- How Forest uses gamification for apps to help you focus
- How Habitica became the prime habit-forming app
- How Snapchat ensures app engagement with a simple trick
- SOUNDS helps their users unlock more value
- Why Foursquare triggers users to check-in
- How LinkedIn gamified onboarding with 1 simple feature
- Make waiting less boring like Zenly or Houseparty
- How Tinder became the most addictive dating app
- Telfie employed gamification to train their recommendation engine
- Boosting loyalty through Starbucks’ gamified rewards program
- The gamification of the travel industry with Goibibo
- Under Armour’s Trivia app lets the NBA fans hold their own playoffs
- How handing out free storage space helped Dropbox grow by 3900%
1. Gamify your finances to save more with Smarty Pig
Smarty Pig is a finance app that helps users hit their financial goals. You start by setting a savings goal, such as buying a new bike. Every time you add money to your account, it will automatically ‘piggyback’ a part of it to your savings.
The app visualizes how close you are to reaching your goal and makes budgeting feel satisfying, instead of a chore. You can also completely personalize your account according to your saving goals. In only two years the app has signed up over 40,000 customers and a $250 million deposit.
2. How Qapital & Monefy change financial habits for the better
Both tools have an expense tracker and allow users to automatically save money. They use gamification for apps to install saving habits.
On Qapital you can create triggers for every time you buy a coffee to save 50 cents. Monefy uses visual feedback to show you how much you’re spending in different categories compared to your balance.
Both apps help you make saving goals more tangible, by visualizing how close you are to achieving them. Sometimes, seeing your money in a different way helps you realize your spending behavior in a different way. Qapital has over 1.8 million users and Monefy has a rating of 4.5 stars in the Google Play store.
3. Motivate product education to drive sales like OTP Banka Hrvatska
European bank, OTP Banka Hrvatska implemented gamification for apps in order to sell more specific financial products. Up to 90 percent of bank products remain unused.
Users earned points and prizes for completing different challenges linked to product education. Instead of promoting products to increase consumption, the bank chose to educate its customers on their products and benefits.
Of the 30 to 40-year-old target group, 87% completed at least one challenge, with an average of 13.3 challenges per participant. The bank got e.16% more sign-ups for mobile banking services, as well as a 13% increase in prepaid Mastercard usage.
4. Moven’s CRED program slashes customer acquisition costs
Moven is a branchless, paperless, and even plastic-less bank. They’re one of the leading online banks using gamification to improve app engagement. They built-in the CRED program to collect more user data. The tool is branded as an assistant who helps you make financial decisions.
CRED uses information about users’ financial decisions instead of traditional credit scores. Factors like social media intelligence are important in its ratings. Unlike a credit score, CRED is designed to be a sort of financial health score. The score goes up when a customer gets better at saving or managing their money.
Moven is able to acquire customers at a cost of $50 per customer due to word of mouth, which is over 80% lower than the industry average. Furthermore, users are encouraged to use Moven to make all their payments, as the tool gives them unique insights into their spending behavior.
5. Education meets rewards at PayPerks
PayPerks is a financial education platform that rewards users for taking financial courses and savings-like behaviors. It’s mostly aimed at lower-income individuals to encourage saving and financial literacy.
PayPerks turned boring financial studies into game-like experiences with fun and easy-to-understand explanations. Their platform incentivizes real-world actions such as card usage, or online behaviors that help the user install the right habits. They have helped millions of consumers get through tens of millions of tutorials and given away hundreds of thousands of dollars in prizes.
6. How Fitbit leverages gamification to keep its users healthy
Fitbit is a wearable fitness tracker connected to a gamified health app. Its users earn badges for reaching certain milestones in the app such as reaching a specific amount of miles. They will also track your progress towards that goal with a progress circle and other live stats.
Additionally, Fitbit creates a sense of social connectedness by allowing you to compete with friends or share your results on social media. The social element seems to be important for the majority of the community as 20 million of the 30 million total active users are actively engaged in the social feed.
7. Spicing up your run with the Zombies Run app
The Zombies Run app is a different kind of health app. It will interrupt your music or radio with a news broadcast about a zombie epidemic. You are on the final remaining humans, so if you want to survive you need to run! The app will give you triggers to run faster or collect supplies along the way.
Zombies Run used gamification for apps to make running fun! With over 200 different missions and an award-winning story, you will always find motivation for your workout. The app has over 1 million users and is the biggest smartphone fitness game, ever.
8. Freeletics leverages community to promote fitness
Freeletics is a workout app with a bunch of virtual training programs and a virtual coach! Nonetheless, it’s gamification for apps that makes it better than a regular fitness app. Freeletics has a social feed where people can follow each other and compare their performances.
On the user profile you can track how many workouts a user completed, what level they are at and the badges they have earned along the way. Just like Strava or Runkeeper, the community drives people to support each other or compete. It proves once again how powerful peer pressure can be for increasing user app engagement.
9. How Headspace creates zen-masters
Headspace is a meditation app with tons of exercises, tutorials, and tips to chill out! The app uses streaks to encourage daily usage by their users, and thus install the habit of meditation. Users also get rewarded for reaching milestones in the app and can unlock more features such as animations to improve their meditation.
Finally, you can join meditation groups or share your results with your buddy list or through Facebook. This way users get a sense of relatedness to the community. Finally, there are also weekly group challenges such as ‘meditate for 500 minutes’ or ‘try every Single’. The app has over 2 million users.
10. Nike collects more data through gamification
Nike+Fuel drives app engagement through gamification to collect more data about its users. It’s a personalized fitness app that allows users to track their activity. After completing different runs users can improve levels, and earn trophies and badges for their performance. They can also link the app to social media to compare and compete with people from all around the world.
The game didn’t just boost Nike’s customer loyalty, it helped to increase the productivity of their R&D and digital marketing department.
11. How Urban Sports Club got more leads with gamification for apps
The Urban Sports Club is a flat rate fitness company. In an effort to attract more leads, they created their own rock-climbing game as an interactive Facebook advertisement. In the game, users had to climb as high as they could to win a 3-month contract. The potential reward and interactive experience were enough motivation to play the game.
Most users replayed the game over 3 times, which shows high engagement. Urban Sports Club was able to collect data from all players who participated. The ad increased organic traffic by 39% and had a 45% lower cost per click.
12. How Woot uses scarcity to drive more sales
Woot is an e-commerce platform that offers daily deals, at a limited quantity and a special price. They reveal a new product every day at midnight. Its exclusivity has driven users to constantly refresh their page between 11.59 PM and 00.01 AM.
Woot plays on curiosity and scarcity to trigger the “fear of missing out” with their users. This way the e-commerce site gets around 10 million monthly visitors that are really engaged. The original idea behind Woot also made up for a lot of free promotions on social media.
13. Collecting the holiday wishes with Target’s Wish-list app
To prepare for the holidays, Target created the ‘Holiday Wish’ app. Here kids could experience a 3D animated game where they could send digital wish lists to Santa. Parents would then be able to instantly order or find their kids’ wishes.
The fun holiday experience and convenient set-up helped Target boost traffic during the most important time of the year!
App engagement was high, with 61% of users checking in weekly and another 31% multiple times per day. The app generated over 75,000 downloads and 100,000 wish lists. On average a Wishlist comprised around 30 items with a value of $1,500. Over six weeks 9,200 new Target accounts were created and the app collected a sales potential of $92.3 million!
14. Maximizing profits through unpredictability – the story of eBay
eBay was one of the first to use gamification for apps in the e-commerce industry. It uses bidding, feedback scores, and a badge reward system to motivate both buyers and sellers.
Joining a bidding war is like the lottery, the more you enter the more you’re able to win. You’re also prone to spend more due to the sense of competition and the fear of losing your opportunity. Buyers see bidding as a competition. Winning a bid is like winning the competition. It doesn’t matter if you overpaid, as long as the endorphins give you that awesome feeling!
Sellers, on the other hand, can earn badges like ‘trusted seller’ and get better percentages as an eBay seller in return. It’s about risk, engagement, and rewards.
15. Teleflora rewards users for being part of their community
Teleflora is an online flower shop. They created a loyalty system that rewards users for participating in their community.
They rewarded users with points for doing things like customer reviews, comments, answering customer queries, and sharing Teleflora on Facebook. Once users reached a certain level they earned badges and titles like ‘influencer’. There was even a leaderboard displaying the top contributing members.
With a 105% increase in Facebook referrals, Teleflora’s conversion rates went up by 92%!
16. The one feature that helped UNice quadruple newsletter sign-up rates
UNice is an online hair store. In an effort to get more sign-ups for their newsletter they created a spin-the-wheel pop-up to greet new visitors. You simply have to enter your email to get a chance to win coupons, free lashes or even an iPad! While doing so, you would also be automatically subscribed to their newsletter.
It’s a great way to grab the attention of your users and turn them from passive visitors into active participators. They’re curious to find out their reward, for something as simple as their email. Spin-the-wheels show a 3 to 4 times higher sign-up rate to their newsletter compared to traditional pop-ups.
17. How SHEIN keeps shoppers actively engaged
SHEIN is one of the largest online retailers in the world with over 4 million unique monthly visitors. So how do they get app engagement like this?
For starters, they have a discount countdown timer to create a sense of urgency with their users. Furthermore, they have a points-based reward system that gives users points for active participation and ambassadorship.
For instance, when users check in daily or make product reviews. They can also win points for special challenges. 100 points equal 1 dollar, which you can spend in the shop. This way SHEIN rewards the behaviors that help them grow.
18. How the Gilt Groupe built a loyalty program on social rewards
The Gilt Groupe is a member-based e-commerce site that sells exclusive clothing and accessories. The site runs time-limited sales which anticipate scarcity and urgency as emotional triggers. They created the Gilt Noir category for their most loyal customers.
These customers represent the top 1% of Gilt shoppers based on the total value of purchases. Members get a scented candle, member’s card, and early access to preview all product sales. They even get exclusive sales that are only available to them!
Needless to say, users are driven by a desire to be a part of this exclusive community.
19. Rewarding app engagement & participation like Waze
Waze is a crowdsourced GPS app, where its users share real-time traffic with each other. Detrimental to its success is the fact that their users help them to accurately map traffic situations around the world. So how do they do it?
Every Wazer has a mood. You start out as a Newbie. If you want to improve your mood you will have to complete the first goal, which is to drive 100 miles. Waze rewards participation with experience points and visualizes it through progress bars and on a leaderboard.
Users can compare their participation with their friends or people from all around the world. Next to its gamification elements, the calling of having a reliable traffic app also adds to users’ motivation. The community of engaged drivers has helped Waze get over 130 million monthly active users.
20. How Bird motivates people to charge electric scooters
Bird is an electric scooter charging company. They use gamification for apps to motivate users to hunt down scooters and charge them.
Literally, anyone can become a Bird Charger. The community is self-organized and relies on its users to charge as many scooters as possible. You can ‘find’ and ‘capture’ scooters or ‘birds’ and charge them at home. In return, users earn a monetary reward for every scooter. You earn more for scooters that are harder to find, which makes it an ideal side hustle for a lot of people.
21. Boosting drivers’ app engagement with Uber driver app
Uber’s driver app is a prime example of gamification for apps to improve loyalty and encourage good behavior. The app is built to improve the driver experience by implementing game elements into the work.
Drivers can take on quests and win badges for the achievements they complete. Additionally, their earnings are tracked within the app and directly linked to the progress they make on the game. If drivers complete a certain amount of trips in a specific time frame, they might get additional monetary rewards.
Spicing up the drivers’ experience with game-like triggers creates the right behaviors for drivers. Not only does the game make work more fun, but it also keeps their drivers engaged to move forward.
22. How GiffGaff built a community-based telecom business
Giffgaff is a community-based telecom company that offers flexible monthly plans. To become a member you buy a SIM card from other gifgaff members. Users get points for participating in the community, which they can convert to cash to pay for their mobile phone or to donate to charity.
The program rewards users for helping other members on their forum or recommending friends. This has helped the community grow to over 3 million users good for over 600 million dollars in revenue.
23. How Duolingo makes language learning fun
Duolingo is a language learning app that has mastered gamification for apps. Instead of going through long and boring lectures, Duolingo offers fun, bite-sized lessons that make you want to keep learning!
The app uses an in-app currency called ‘lingots’ which rewards users for completing various activities on the app. Additionally, users can collect badges when attaining achievements such as reaching the next level or milestone. To boost user motivation even further, Duolingo adds a dash of competition with a scoreboard based on experience points.
Today the app has over 300 million active users worldwide, securing its place as the number one language learning app.
24. Turning classrooms into gameshows with Kahoot
Kahoot is a learning game app where students can compete in virtual quizzes. The teacher or instructor sets up a series of questions. The questions and multiple choice answers are then projected onto a scared screen, and users can select the right answers on their own devices.
Students receive points for every question they answer correctly and extra points for being faster than others. They can either play individually or in teams. After every question, users will see their score go up, as well as their ranking on the leaderboard.
By using gamification for apps, Kahoot engages students with fun and interactive quizzes, encouraging screens and a sense of competition. It beats the classroom everyday!
25. Todoist uses gamification to get shit done
Todoist is a productivity app that helps you organize your days, get reminders and manage tasks easily. The app not only helps you keep your planning on track, but also motivates you for completing your work!
For instance, users earn karma points for completing a task. However, they also get negative karma for missing deadlines. These two types of rewards play on two different user motivations: achievement and avoidance. Furthermore, users can unlock new levels based on their karma points, and share them with friends on social media.
The app has reached the milestone of 5 million users and will keep boosting their users’ productivity!
26. How Forest uses Gamification for apps to help you focus
The Forest app allows you to focus when you need to the most. Whenever you want to stop your digital distractions you can open Forest, set a timer, and plant a seed. You can’t go outside the app until the timer is completed, if you do give up the seed will die.
The app has a purpose, which is to grow the tree. If you bail on your tasks, you will have to watch the tree die. Again, this works on a sense of accomplishment and avoidance. The more tasks you complete, the more trees you will plant. Finally, you can invite your friends or compete with the global community on a leaderboard to see how your productivity matches up.
27. How Habitica became the prime habit-forming app
Habitica is a habit-installing app. It helps you create daily routines in a better, faster, and most importantly fun way! Their slogan literally is: Gamify your life!
The app helps you set clear goals, and visualizes the progress you’re making towards them. Users are rewarded for continuing their habit with new avatars. Oftentimes, reminding users to actively work on their goals is enough motivation to keep them going. The app has over 4 million members around the world.
28. How Snapchat ensures app engagement with a simple trick
Snapchat is a social messaging tool built around a few gamification principles. First of all, the “snaps” you get from friends have limited availability. The fact that you can’t open a snap after 24 hours means you’ll have to watch it before, or never know what snap you got!
Additionally, Snapchat rewards daily app engagement with streaks. Not checking in daily will break your streak or ‘best friend’ status with the person you snap the most with. Lastly, there are trophies you can collect for achievements on the app. These are usually linked to the use of new features such as ‘sent a video for the first time’ or your app engagement like ‘you have sent 100K snaps’. These game elements encourage the behaviors that drive participation on Snapchat.
29. SOUNDS helps their users unlock more value
SOUNDS is a music-sharing app with over 8 million users worldwide. If you want to share music, you will have the SOUNDS watermark on every post. You can remove the watermark by inviting more friends to join the app. SOUNDS also employs exclusivity in its features. For instance, you can’t see your own profile views unless you upgrade to the VIP version.
The app uses curiosity and avoidance to drive more downloads and engagement. They reward users to drive behaviors that fuel growth, such as inviting friends. Finally, by making their features less accessible SOUNDS boosts monetization.
30. Why Foursquare triggers users to check-in
Foursquare is a live map of your friends. It works by having individual users check-in their location, everywhere they go. But why would they check-in, to begin with?
You can earn badges by checking in on different venues. Some cities even have their own badge. Other badges are couples to special events or user participation, such as checking in a certain number of times. Finally, you can also become Mayor of a place if you’re the one that has checked in the most.
The app has over 10 different levels for superusers. From level one to three you can edit venue information. The higher the level, the more things you’ll be able to do in the app. It’s the relatedness and competition that helped Foursquare get 55 million monthly active users with up to 9 million daily check-ins and 3 billion global visits every month!
31. How LinkedIn gamified onboarding with 1 simple feature
Setting up a LinkedIn profile is very similar to playing a game for the first time. Their progress bar shows how far your profile is from being completed. You will get clear instructions every step of the way on how to improve your profile.
The progress bar also indicates your profile strength. Improving your profile will help you ‘Get found for more opportunities!’ A combination of clear goals and instant visual feedback will boost app engagement and user motivation immensely.
32. Make waiting less boring like Zenly or Houseparty
Zenly is a friend map similar to Foursquare and Houseparty is a video calling tool to do virtual house parties with your friends. What these apps both have in common, is they implement fun messaging while the user has to wait.
Zenly for instance greets its users with funny and human messages when they open the app and even in its notifications. This way their users feel closer and safer to share their information on the app. The app has over 1 million users of which 340,000 engaged at least once per month and 80,000 daily.
Houseparty entertains also uses celebration screens & funny messages while users are waiting on their friends. In 2020 the app was one of the fastest-growing in the Appstore with over 17 million downloads.
33. How Tinder became the most addictive dating app
Tinder is a dating app with insanely high app engagement due to one simple reason: unpredictability. Tinder works by showing you profiles which you can swipe left or right, depending on whether you’d like to meet this person or not.
The app basically has all the data it needs to match you with the perfect profiles, however, it doesn’t do that.
Tinder shows you random matches to keep you engaged. It’s the unpredictability of the variable reward that gets people in the endless swiping loop similar to a slot machine. Admit, it wouldn’t be as fun if we knew every swipe would be a great match!
34. Telfie employed gamification to train their recommendation engine
Telfie is a social entertainment network, like Foursquare for content. You can check-in when you’re watching your favorite TV shows and movies, and share them with your friends on Facebook and Twitter. They boost app engagement with free tickets and bonuses. Users get rewards after registering when they share what they’re reading or when they interact with the system.
Telfie also uses gamification for apps to train their recommendation engine. This way users get more accurate recommendations for films, books, or music according to their preference. The user motivation here is to get more value out of the app. After millions of check-ins and deals with brands like Nickelodeon, CNBC and FOX the app shut down.
35. Boosting loyalty through Starbucks’ gamified rewards program
Starbucks’ reward program is built to boost customer loyalty. It is also one of the most successful apps of its kind. The app rewards users with stars for every order they place. Later, they can redeem the stars for free food and drinks.
As users collect more starts, they also improve their levels. At 450 stars you reach the gold level. This means you’ll get extra benefits such as extra shots of espresso, dairy alternatives, whipped cream, and more, on the house! Simply incentivizing users to keep buying from Starbucks engaged over 16 million customers. The loyalty app is responsible for 40% of the total sales in the US!
36. The gamification of the travel industry with Goibibo
Goibibo is an Indian travel app that used in-app currencies to boost the number of travel bookings. During the Indian Premier League, the app introduced goCashFest. Users could cash here every time the Mumbai Indians played. They gained points for every 4s, 6s, 50, 100 wickets and wins during the match.
Users could use this cash to make bookings on Goibibo’s travel platform. The goCash initiative still serves as a gamified loyalty program. Users can unlock exclusive benefits such as free meals and seats, and win badges for engaging in their online community.
37. Under Armour’s Trivia app lets the NBA fans hold their own playoffs
Under Armour is a global sportswear brand. During the NBA playoffs, they partnered up with basketball player Steph Curry to launch a surprise Trivia game called StephIQ. The game allowed users to answer a series of trivia questions, every time Curry scored his first three-pointer of the game.
Participants who could answer all eight questions correctly could either win and split the prize pool, or enter a special raffle which included prizes like free tickets, signed shoes, and Under Armour gear. The app caused an increase in NBA’s viewership, as well as sales for the brand itself.
38. How handing out free storage space helped Dropbox grow by 3900%
Dropbox is one of the best-known storage apps in the world. They kickstarted their growth with a gamified referral program. You could win free storage space for taking a tour in Dropbox, referring friends, or connecting your social media accounts.
Both you and your friend got up to 500 MB if they signed up. You could win a total of 16 GB if you maxed out the number of referrals!
They grew by 3900% in just 15 months. To put that in perspective they went from 100,000 registered users to 4 million. Dropbox still uses their rewards program today to drive sales to Dropbox Pro among other goals. They now have over 14 million active users.
It’s safe to say there are lots of opportunities in gamification for apps. Some of the biggest apps in the world are using at least some form of gamification to achieve their goals. Not only to increase app engagement but to motivate referrals and basically any user behavior that helps you grow.
If you’re looking to improve retention or app engagement, gamification is a tried and proven way to get started.