Monday, March 14, 2011

Game Mechanics of Farmville, ClubPsych and Microsoft's Ribbon Hero

Image representing Rajat Paharia as depicted i...Image by Inter Play via CrunchBaseIn Part Two of our discussion, Bunchball Founder and Chief Product Officer Rajat Paharia talks with Shore Comunications Marketing Leadership Principal Peter Propp about three very successful commercial uses of Game Mechanics techniques to achieve a business objective.  

First up -- a discussion of Farmville as a way to identify all of the core aspects of an online game experience.  

Next -- USA Network’s Club Psych as an example of a pop culture brand that has achieved even more success by crossing over to a second screen.  By creating Club Psych, USA Networks claims that the show’s ratings have gone up by 40% among the highly valuable 18-34 demographic.

Rajat has great things to say about Microsoft’s Ribbon Hero as well.  Ribbon Hero is Redmond’s way to encourage and reward mastery of the many different capabilities of the Microsoft Office productivity suite.  

Based on the discussion, there are three big take-aways on the use of Game Mechanics in a business setting:
  1. Make sure there is a “Towards” – If you don’t give your audience something to achieve on your game-oriented site, it is unlikely they will return.  
  2.  Embrace what your brand is about – Your game should be highly aligned to the values that your brand represents to your customers.  Don’t do "cute" unless that is what your customers expect from you.  Don’t be afraid to engineer ways for customers to engage with the reason your customers already like you.  Microsoft Ribbon Hero and Club Psych are great examples of games that embrace the core value that the brand represents.
  3. Make the game real, and reward in a real way – Levels, recognition, online goods, real world branded goods.  Make sure your rewards are always reinforcing your brand and your game.

Rajat is a fabulous communicator.  If you are at all interested in Game Mechanics, be sure to watch this interview.

There is a rough transcript below the video.

If you want to see Part I of the interview with Rajat "The Secrets of Game Mechanics," click here.

Super Rough Transcript of Peter Propp's interview with Rajat Paharia:

Farmville – When you look beyond the harvesting and planting, there is a heavy use of game mechanics in key ways including:
Point Balance – People love points, love to be rewarded and have status
Level – and progress towards next level. Like frequent flyer miles, karate belts, job titles – based on this achievement, I deserve status and respect, maybe even access to content and site areas.
Virtual Farm/Avatar – simple self expression elements – allows you to spend, customize, self express
Ribbons – expressions of accomplishments.  Gives goals, for example

Most apps have no “Towards” – no objective to try and get somewhere.  When you add a towards, you can get some great in-game results.  For example:
 Xbox 360 == each game comes with 12 or more achievements that gamers are encouraged to master.
 Pogo -- social gaming site Women 35 and older– very successful – strong use of achievement badges used to drive users to new and underperforming areas of the site.

USA Networks – === loyalty program for TV show “Psych”
How to activate your loyal and engaged fans to become a viral marketing force.
Earn points via social media missions, participation in Psych chatter, gaining new Club Psych members, joining facebook page, making twitter updates
Points can be redeemed for virtual goods like
Or real world goods like T-shirts, Skateboards etc.
Psych also created Campus Wars – earn points – not just for yourself but for your college. Brigham Young University won this competition in Spring 2010, and the university was mentioned by name in an actual episode of the show.

Dual screen experience Psych vision (iPad app) – tying TV show watching to computer/tablet, etc.
Results for Psych:
  • Page views from 2/session to 4.5
  • Time – on site minutes increase
  • Approximately 40% Increase in viewership among 18-34 key demographic – their core business of getting youthful eyeballs to watch the TV show, with commercials, at its live broadcast time.
Microsoft Office Ribbon Hero – Rewards for exploring the deep capabilities of Microsoft Office – especially the Ribbon context.

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