Does gamification destroy or make web products? Let's assume you are firing on all cylinders and have great gamification features planned which will be highly addictive- should you implement them? Or will it be your biggest regret? Why not? After investigating and engaging in various sites that have added a game element I have observed a new aspect to the challenge of gamification.
The careful balancing act is if you get it right and hordes of users swoop to your site and engage in the addictive competitive features will they add value to your product? If they are attracted and engage for the wrong reasons are they just noise in your stats? Do these users just push up your figures or are they really valuable?
I am still debating this with myself, so what do you think? Here are my opposed thoughts.
All out game pimp-ification... You have pimped your site out as a game so much the core value proposition of the site is lost. So what, you are getting users and regularly. Now the challenge is to engage those users with your core value offering which may mean morphing game features away from the point scoring and badge earning. Bottom line you have an audience to monitise- see foursquare, get the audience then layer on the money.
Softly, softly, catchy monkey... Implement game style features integrated to the core product that could easily be ignored by users who would prefer not to participate. Your audience growth might be slower. Planning and development will be much slower as it takes much more thought and care, but your message and core values are not lost. Engaged players are adding real value. There is no confusion. Core product kpi are focused on, adding direct and powerful value to the service. But getting this right is no childplay - can it even be achieved for all products?
Over cook it and many users will be put off feeling distracted and unengaged, undercooked it is a waste of time.
So which is it - viral campaign lead that has a probable shelf life or integrated product features? Or ignore the gamification hype.
I am leaning towards a favoured approach of softly softly.