When executed properly, gamification programs are powerful engagement tools. That said, the vast majority of these programs are not succeeding. According to Gartner, 70 percent of the world’s top 2,000 companies will implement gamified systems by 2014, but 80 percent of them will fail.1

If you want your company’s gamification program to succeed, you need to avoid these five mistakes.

1. Poorly designed rules

This sounds simple, but a lot of the systems that companies implement don’t have clear rules, or detailed instructions. The boundaries need to be set from the beginning, and they need to be air-tight. A poor set of rules (or a lack of rules altogether) will lead to users cheating their way through the game, and defeating the program’s purpose.2

2. Underwhelming Rewards

The whole motivation for participating in a gamification program is to be rewarded. However, if the awards offered to users aren’t appealing, their motivation won’t last. One company that made this mistake was Zappos, which is surprising considering their strong marketing history. Zappos gave users the chance to earn badges, points, and jump up levels, but there was no actual reward besides their digital accomplishment. Users quickly grew wary of the program, and most of them quit.3

3. Lack of Structure

All too often, companies create gamified systems that lack a strong sense of structure, thus making it difficult for users to understand how to play. As simple as this sounds, it remains one of the most common failures among gamification programs. One company that makes its game too confusing is Klout. While gamification is Klout’s foundation, it does a poor job explaining how one can earn points. One’s Klout score is considered a measure of their social media influence, but the company doesn’t offer users an explanation of how to raise their scores.4

4. The Game Itself is Bad

In the end, you have to have a fun game or nothing else will matter. Creating a program that is enjoyable and interactive is easier said than done, but the inability to accomplish this is one of the most common problem developers face. One way to ensure that your program is engaging is to conduct a focus group comprised of people in your targeted demographic. This is a far more cost-efficient and sensible way to test a product before simply releasing it to the public.2

5. Gamification May Not be the Answer

As is the case with most trends, there are people who want to use gamification just for the sake of using it. The name is catchy, it sounds fun and many pundits have praised its results. But maybe gamification just isn’t right for your company and your demographic. Before implementing a gamified system, think about why gamification can work for your organization. If it’s difficult to come up with a solid answer, it may be best to go in a different direction. Gamifying for the sake of gamifying is a good way to waste a lot of time, effort and money.2

There are a lot of questions to address about gamification before you decide to implement. To find a gamification solution that will help improve your business, try our free software category page. It allows you to compare dozens of vendors by answering a few simple questions about what you are looking for. Afterwards, a gamification expert will follow up with you and make sure you’re headed in the right direction.


1. 27 November, 2012. “Gartner Says by 2014, 80 Percent of Current Gamified Applications Will Fail to Meet Business Objectives Primarily Due to Poor Design.” <https://www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/2251015>

2. Marczewski, Andrzej. 19 August, 2013. “Why Does Gamification Fail? A Few Reasons…” <https://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/AndrzejMarczewski/20130819/198562/Why_does_Gamification_Fail_A_few_reasons.php>

3. Kleinberg, Adam. 23 July, 2012. “Brands That Failed With Gamification.” <https://www.imediaconnection.com/content/32281.asp>

4. 21 February, 2012. “Dear Klout…You’re Confusing Me” <https://www.socialswitchboard.net/2012/02/21/klouts-confusing>

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