The Real Reason Pokemon Go is Failing

The Real Reason Pokemon Go is Failing

It was fun, but…

We previously wrote about what Pokemon Go did well, but why did the Pokemon Go hype not last? How did the game lose millions of players, seemingly overnight?

Only a few months ago Pokemon Go looked like a huge success: 750 million downloads; 1 billion dollar in revenues in 2016; 28 million daily active users in 2016 in the US alone. Nothing seemed to be able to bring the mighty Pokemon down.

Yet only a few months later, its grandeur has faded. Seemingly forever. Its active player base has evaporated. Globally, only 5 million people now play the game on a daily basis. And the number seems to be falling continuously.

What went wrong in a game that seemed to be such a huge success? Find out below how basic design flaws brought the Pokemon Go down.

404 error: no endgame

Pokemon Go was very successful in engaging a huge number of people through a mix of extrinsic design (XP, Collection Sets, Scarcity design and some unpredictability in finding new Pokemons). This help to get many people to jump on board.

 

However, for a successful end game to exist, the design needs to switch to intrinsic motivational design to create the needed unpredictable fun (Core Drive: 7 Curiosity and Unpredictability), autonomy (Core Drive 3: Empowerment of Creativity  and Feedback) and meaningful social interaction (Core Drive 5: Social Influence and Relatedness). Unfortunately Pokemon Go failed in this aspect almost completely.

Many players began scratching their heads after realizing they were constantly picking up similar pokemon time and again in their area (it is only so exciting to find the same Ratata or Pidgey or even, though I love them, the Magikarp). This predictability led to a decrease in Core Drive 7 Curiosity and Unpredictability. There was just less and less to wonder about and explore in Pokemon Go.

The Pokemon Gyms would have been a great place to create exciting social interaction between players through combat and collaboration. However, new players find the top 1% of players have already created “monopolies” in gyms. Essentially, these hard core monopolist gamers spent more time and effort, significantly so, to level their Pokemon, essentially preventing interaction from other players in this game element. This has created a scarcity overkill: it was just to hard for most players to do any meaning social game interactions. No Core Drive 5 either then…

Finally, the way combat is designed is pretty lame and lacks the ability to strategize (Core Drive 3: Empowerment of Creativity and Feedback). Most players are disappointed that combat doesn’t feel like the Pokemon games of their youths.

So what we are left with is mainly extrinsic design:

  • You keep adding Pokemons to your collection of Pokemons
  • You gather XP and level up
  • And high scarcity of available Pokemons cause you to grind (walk, travel) a lot to get more Pokemons.

The above is a fully extrinsic experience design: you mainly play the game because you expect a reward for your activities. Great for short term motivation, but…

 

Extrinsic ruins intrinsic motivation (in long-term)

Walking in nature is intrinsically interesting, but Pokemon Go is making players feel like this: “now I have to go for a walk just to collect Pokemon.” The extrinsic design bias in the game motivated us to start walking in our surroundings to add to our collection set. But after a while the extrinsic motivation has completely taken over our intrinsic desire to explore our surroundings. Now going out to hunt for Pokemon feels like a chore rather than a fun game. Motivation wanes.

Black Hat

Core Drives, 6, 7, and 8 represent the Black Hat parts of the Octalysis Octagon, and Pokemon Go veers too much toward these drives, and in particularCore Drive 6: Impatience & Scarcity. Here’s a few examples:

  • It is overly difficult to obtain certain Pokemons. The scarcity is just too high and when it is, your initial motivation turns to Core drive 8: Loss and Avoidance. You just give up.
  • Gyms are zones of high competition, the Black Hat expression of Core Drive 5: Social Influence & Relatedness. It is great for highly capable, competitive Alpha players, but for the majority of players it is not motivational. So a potential intrinsic design feature turned into a fully black hat experience (Core Drive 6: Impatience & Scarcity as well as Core Drive 8: Loss and Avoidance)

What does the CEO believe?

When asked, the CEO mentions the collaborative gym raids as the most important recent update.

If I had to single out one, I think it’s the [gyms and raids update] that we just put out. It really is the first new mechanic that gives people motivation to keep playing, to keep leveling up pokémon, to continue to get out and be active. The collection mechanic was something that was really the heart of the game, and it still is the heart of the game for new users, but this [improves] the game for players who have reached a certain level. I think that’s the single biggest change because of that challenge and opportunity of fun that it presents to more experienced players. And also, it’s designed to encourage cooperative play, which is core to our mission.

 

I understand the emphasis on cooperative play, which invokes social influence, but the change doesn’t address the lack of creativity in the game and tries to smuggle in some achievement and epic meaning (health), which are secondary motivators. It seems Niantic would do well to consider their flaws and omissions instead.

Okay, let’s fix this with common sense and Octalysis

If you’ve gone through the trouble of enabling a vast global location-based tech infrastructure, adding just a little game design on top is totally worth it and will improve your ROI. Here are some recommendations to improve the Endgame.

  • enable trading between players
  • varying types of pokemon found even if searching in same area
  • improving the collaborative raids
  • center on gyms for player interactions, and make the gyms customizable via location-type tags
  • create group or friend quests
  • provide a more items that influence collaboration between high and low level players (option, give lures additional strength when players of varying levels are present)
  • trading or crafting items from home
  • add load out slots for additional combat strategy (CD3)
  • add distance-based quests: a sequential quest starts after a given length of walking, but can then be played while stationary later

These are just to get you started thinking about simple design updates to improve Niantic’s business metric of more daily active users. This video from Extra Credits has even more.

Making a stronger endgame

You’ve got people using your app or website, but you can’t keep them engaged? We’ve helped hundreds of companies think through these Endgame scenarios.

Get in touch right now.

joris@octalysisgroup.com

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How Octalysis boosts a Boring Simulation Game

How Octalysis boosts a Boring Simulation Game

A boring Game?

I recently played a rather tedious Business Strategy Simulation Game in my MBA program https://www.bsg-online.com/.  The Game is an attempt to create engagement with a potentially bland topic: business strategy.

Although I mildly enjoyed playing the Simulation, I noticed several motivational problems. My in-depth knowledge of Octalysis gave me the tools to analyze the experience and uncover insights about how to improve the game.

Let’s find out what I’ve discovered!

The Setup

The game is played by a team of around 4-6 players simulating the business strategy of a shoe factory.  This simulation is incorporated in business schools and corporations to improve team-work and strategic decision-making.

In the simulation, you’re competing against 2-5 other teams in real time, where 1 year corresponds to 1 week in the game.

Business Strategy Simulation Game - Leaderboard

You make decisions each week (which equals one year in the game) which will change the feedback towards what’s happening in the marketplace and how successful your company will be based on country-based and international ratings. Main indicators are Net Revenue and Profit and Ending Cash but also Image and Credit Rating, based on CSR efforts and customer feedback.

See below the screenshot of the rather overwhelming experience:

Business Strategy Game

After the year is over you’ll get to see a report that mentions your position in the marketplace indicating your strengths and weaknesses, which helps you identify your niche and competitive advantage. This is good Core Drive 2: Development and Accomplishment design and gave us a sense of autonomy in the experience (Core Drive 3: Empowerment of Creativity and Feedback).

Business Strategy Simulation Game - Graph

So-so simulation fun

Well, let’s just say it could have been a lot more engaging. Did I ever feel the need to come back to the experience? Absolutely, because losing the Game wasn’t an option (Core Drive 8: Loss & Avoidance) and I was curious what the feedback to our actions would be (Core Drive 3 and Core Drive 7: Unpredictability & Curiosity). Also, having to wait every week for the next decision gave you a sense of impatience (Core Drive 6: Scarcity and Impatience).

So, if urgency wasn’t the problem in the experience, what was?

Team Work - Business Strategy Game

The relationship to my teammates (Core Drive 5: Social Influence & Relatedness) was of growing importance to the fact that it made us find more diverse and creative Solutions and Strategies (Core Drive 3: Empowerment of Creativity & Feedback) not alone, but together in a team. The problem was, that we felt the need for communication and autonomy and the system did not empower that. So we wanted to have a more intrinsic design but the simulation did not offer it.

We couldn’t comfortably play together and the system usually crashed when trying to be on the server at the same time. It’s like trying to have a meeting on Skype and half of the team can’t hear you. It’s frustrating and destroys intrinsic motivation.

This Octalysis Octagon summarizes the player experience from motivation or Core Drive perspective. In short, the experience was overly extrinsically-motivated and lacked well-designed intrinsic motivators (The analysis can vary by player).

Octalysis Graph Business Strategy Game

There was a huge amount of motivation in the onboarding phase of the experience because of the unpredictability of the outcome. The game is designed around that core drive but executed rather poor. The outcomes become rather predictable and repetitive and cease to engage. In real businesses, your strategy needs to be agile enough to act in any kind of situation. For a fact, our team had expectations based on Simulations like Civilization or Sim City and we expected to see something like a plant burning down or experience employee turmoil. Unfortunately, it all stayed quite plain and there were not that many exciting challenges that we could take.

The exciting bits

To me, the most exciting part of the game was my team’s decision to build a whole strategy around the game, which was actually not incorporated within the game itself but motivated by the lecturer and the course content. In short, my team applied our own intrinsic need for creativity (Core Drive 3: Empowerment of Creativity & Feedback) into the overall experience, because it didn’t feel like we had enough autonomous choices.

While tapping into our creativity and giving the players within the team feedback (from their teammates), this decision also gave the game some Epic Meaning (Core Drive 1: Epic Meaning & Calling), which was highly needed. Maybe an additional idea could have been that you can choose your quest in the beginning of the game: World power, Corporate Social Responsibility or Elitism, something which helps to define the objective of the game and assists you in creating a company culture.

We built our visual branding, chose our mission and vision and created a company culture.

 

Below you can see how defining our objectives in the game created Creativity and Epic Meaning. We even did some extra work creating a video for the company.

The culture (a blend of epic meaning and calling, ownership and social influence) helped my team to make in-game decisions and was the most crucial part of the experience. Again, this design should have been integrated into the game experience itself and not outside of it.

The simulation should have motivated us to look at it not just from a game perspective but giving us the feeling of running a real business. This also means the feedback mechanics based on your decisions need to make sense, which they don’t always do. For example, the game has no customer focus. If you decide to run a marketing campaign with printed posters and your audience is 13-16 years of age, it wouldn’t make any difference than doing a community driven social media campaign, as long as you spend the right amount of money in the correct part of the world and endorse the right celebrities. If the game really wants to empower strategic thinking, that should be part of the design.

On the other hand, winning the game doesn’t mean you have created a responsible, working business strategy. It just means you discovered how best to win this game.

Defining our Key Business Metrics early on helped us to understand what success means for our company and what our vision is. That’s why our team strategically decided not to go for the win, but to hold on to our culture and motivation to run our business and play the game our way. An interesting anecdote which can also be applied to real life. Maybe that’s what the simulation is good at, it’s limitations create a need to think further than the game itself.

Below you can see the presentation of our project, highly motivated by CD1 and CD5 to create a sense of fighting for the same cause together and making the viewer be part of the experience we’ve had.

4 lessons learned:

The future of the game definitely lies in the strength of Core Drive 5: Social Influence & Relatedness and the ability to bring people together to help them build a vision and Core Drive 1: Epic Meaning & Calling by exercising Core Drive 3: Empowerment of Creativity & Feedback.

1. Allow people to fail: 

The urgency the simulation creates based on Core Drive 8: Loss & Avoidance makes the player feel anxious about any interaction, especially if the experience is marked in the end. Giving the user the feeling that he can’t make mistakes destroys the whole learning experience and the main purpose of playing a game. Removing some of the CD8 elements and leaning more towards the Core Drive 7: Unpredictability & Curiosity aspects will make it more engaging to play while still creating urgency.

2. Leaderboards are not the easy way out: 

Core Drive 2: Development and Accomplishment is applied in a lazy way. The ‘Let’s put some leaderboards there and that will make it more fun’ approach destroys intrinsic motivation. The end of year report is very handy and reflects much more accurate who’s in a leading position and who are competing against each other. Our team was highly motivated by the CSR Reward of the year, but there should be more feedback attached to it – what did this reward change, why did we get it and most importantly, why is this of value for us?

3. Give the player a sense of progress: 

The Game could flourish by giving more flexibility and reward efforts regarding Marketing and Customer Experience, how does the Customer feel, why do they feel that way and how can you improve. Giving the player some indicators about how to use the platform with a glowing choice and some useful hints during the Onboarding phase and when the user is lost would make the experience less daunting and less CD8 driven. Stop making the player feel anxious, make them feel clever and that they’re learning something during the experience.

4. Create unpredictability:

Further, if the game incorporated random events indicative of a real environment, we can implement mechanics that draw on CD7 – like weather changes, catastrophes and other mechanics that will change a player’s or team’s strategy and will make teams remain agile. These CD7 events could include positive outcomes like new legislations and inventions (like 3D printing) relevant to modern businesses.

Want to improve your own product?

At The Octalysis Group, we have thousands of hours of practice using Octalysis to better understand experiences, from training simulations to marketing campaigns. Many of clients have benefitted tremendously from the power of Octalysis.

Want us to do the same for your product?

Contact Sabrina Bruehwiler now.

sabrina@octalysisgroup.com

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Find out how Octalysis design supercharges your sales team…

Find out how Octalysis design supercharges your sales team…

Many of our clients are enthusiastic when they see Octalysis for the first time.  One of my clients recently said that the Framework totally transformed the way he saw his business, yes even life itself. I can vouch for these statements myself. Octalysis has completely changed how I see professional and personal life too. It’s awesome.

However, and this is a question our clients ask us a lot, does it work? Does Octalysis lead to more engagement? Does it result in motivated teams? Does it lead to higher sales? Higher growth and productivity?

Obviously the answer is yes.  Normally we are under strict Client Non-Disclosure Agreements so we can almost never share the great results we achieve. We were allowed to do so last year for one of our hotel chain projects, which resulted in sales growth of  712% and a Social Coefficient of 512%. I am thrilled that I am now allowed to share some amazing results from one of our HR/Employee Gamification projects as well. Enjoy!

Check out the results below. If you cannot wait any longer, just scroll all the way down (warning: you may miss out on some Octalysis Design gems by doing so).

 

The Challenge

We (and our Polish Octalysis Licensee Funtiago) were approached by a Procter and Gamble distributor in Eastern Europe. They faced major challenges with their sales teams that had to go out and sell Procter and Gamble products to their clients. The main issues:

  • Low employee motivation
  • Low and stagnating sales numbers
  • No feedback on their activities
  • No group feeling
  • No new sales ideas

Sounds daunting huh? Yeah, we thought so too. This is a company that had been selling stuff to clients for decades. If they couldn’t maintain sales and motivate their teams, this was truly a massive issue…

Nevertheless, we accepted the challenge to improve the professional life of the sales teams and to increase sales in the process. We knew that the people themselves were not to blame for this daunting situation. It was all about the way their sales processes were designed. Time for Octalysis Human Focused Design!

 

Our approach

We ensure high quality delivery by sticking to our tried and tested 5 Step Octalysis Implementation Process (Strategy Dashboard; Feature Brainstorm; PE Feature List; Battle Plan; and Concept Wireframes). This process is highly interactive with the client as we need to ensure that our assumptions about their business metrics, practices and target users are well aligned with the solutions we come up with and design for.

We also wanted to ensure that our designs were flawlessly integrated with the CRM application the sales team was using. It makes no sense to design an experience if it stays as a separate application. It needs to constantly be in sync with the wider CRM process.

We then decided to change the world that sales people had to live in on a daily basis. Away with the boring to do lists and endless repetition of sales steps without any overarching narrative or feedback. From now on sales people in the distributor are seafaring traders for a city state called Nabicopolis. You do not just go to clients but you sail there and trade with them for profit. For yourself, as well as for the city state.

Here are screenshots of the city state (the text is all in Polish, but the images are self explanatory).

The city grows whenever it is healthy and wealthy. When it is poor and weak, it is prone to pirate attacks and it will degrade. As you can see from the images above, both you and the city have a health (red line) and a wealth (green line) meter. You gain health by doing the right sales KPIs. Wealth by selling products.

There is a variety of social interaction design in the project. There are group quests; a tavern to socialize and for management to send out overall guidance and news updates:

 

Tavern

 

Gentle Leaderboard

There is a leaderboard as well, although we made sure to not make it too intimidating. Often leaderboards are only motivational for the the top 5 people on it. For the rest the scarcity feel (Core Drive 6: Scarcity and Impatience) is too high and they stop caring. However, by only showing a few people above and below you, you can mitigate some of that negativity and make it more engaging by bringing scarcity back to lower levels.

 

Dynamic Profile Pages

People tend to spend a lot of time (at least in the early stages of the experience) to upgrade and update their profile:

Not only can you update a photo, you can also choose the ship that you use to sail to clients with. The more activities you do in the application, the bigger and faster your ship will be and the faster you get feedback on your sales results from Headquarters.

Interestingly, when you sail with your ship, the navigation is fully integrated with Google Maps so you actually see yourself sailing to your clients along maps that look somewhat like this (this is a mockup, the real thing looks better):

Players have full autonomy of what actions and strategy they want to follow (so lots of Core Drive 3: Empowerment of Creativity and Feedback), which is very motivational long term and often lacking in sales organizations. Now selling has become fun and creative.

 

Next to social aspects and creativity and autonomy, we also made sure that there is plenty to discover and that there are regular surprises in the experience (Core Drive 7: Unpredictability and Curiosity). Social, creativity, and unpredictability are all intrinsically motivational. Here is where all the fun is and where long term motivation is born!

So you will get secret codes

 

…that open mystery boxes:

In additional there is the Captain’s Wheel of Fortune where you can spend your trade energy to try get cool prizes and loot drop. This is a very popular design feature and engages people on a daily basis.

Oh, and did I tell you that participation in the experience was fully voluntary? And that 100% of all the 130 sales people joined in? Let’s look at some more results shall we?

 

The Results

OK, so what were the results of Octalysis Design for this client? Did it approach what they expected? Yes it did. In fact they told us that the results were extraordinary. Here is a small sample list:

 

  • SALES: UP 21.8%
  • KPIs: UP 59%
  • Social Interaction: UP 300%

 

These are good numbers indeed, especially for an organization that has been in the market for so long. What managers would not sign up for a 21.8% sales uptick? Or people actually doing their KPIs with a smile on their faces?

Octalysis works, IF it is implemented well. We feel that the design can be even more improved, but are happy with the results so far.

 

Curious how to get great numbers too?

We can do this for your company or organization too. It does not matter if you are working in a big corporation or a small start up. Contact me for a FREE initial consultation and find out what The Octalysis Group can do for you!

 

Speak soon.

 

Joris

joris@octalysisgroup.com

 

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Gamification: not only icing on the cake…

Gamification: not only icing on the cake…

Why many gamification projects fail: Part 1

Gamification; Human-focused design, behavioural science, motivation, OctalyisGamification has grown to be more than a buzzword. We see many examples of Gamification being used in banking, education, retail, healthcare, entertainment, media and more. According to Credence Research, the Global Gamification Market will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 23.4 percent from 2016 until 2023. Another research by Research and Markets shows that the Global Education Gamification market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 66.22 percent till 2020.

Clearly, the benefits of Gamification have now been recognised as a way to achieve competitive advantage and high ROI. That said, Gartner’s predicted that more than 80 % of Gamification projects would fail. Why such a harsh prediction? What do you need to know for your project to succeed? What are the most common errors in the industry?

In a series of posts, The Octalysis Group will address common misconceptions, misunderstandings and mistakes that occur during the design and implementation of gamification. Our goal is to address these issues. Why? Because we believe that gamification is not only business but also a cause. A cause to change the world for the better. The better we design, the more positive change we can bring to the world.

 

Gamification must be integrated into your product design

 

  • “So when does the Gamification come in?”
  • “After that, we will start with the Gamification”

 

We hear these types of statements all the time, coming not only from clients but also from industry experts, but this approach misses a crucial point. In The Octalysis Group, we know that Gamification is not just adding points, badges, leaderboards or other game mechanics. Designing engaging experiences has more to do with behavioural science and motivation, than just adding these add-on mechanics. It’s like building a game first, and only after starting to think about how to make that game fun!

Behavioural design and motivation are built into successful games the same way it should be in Gamification projects. Ideally, we build for long or even ever-lasting engagement.

Think about a game like chess. Its history can be traced back more than 1500 years, and there are still no signs that the game is getting boring or out-of-date any time soon. In fact, chess doesn’t need patches and updates, new bricks or badges for people to come back to play it. The game is designed to bring endless opportunities and possibilities to construct and test strategies within the game itself; it becomes unnecessary to add more features.

A truly engaging experience has motivation incorporated in its DNA, and that’s where great Gamification must start too. Engagement and motivation start by designing for human motivation throughout the experience and in all phases. Nearly all movies have movie elements in them (actors, sound, visual effects), but those elements alone do not guarantee the director a seat at the Oscars…

 

Why plug and play solutions often fail to increase long-term engagement

On the market today there are many ready-to-go Gamification solutions that boast of being able to achieve high ROIs in engagement, motivation, loyalty and so on. Unfortunately, the real return is mostly not that impressive, especially in the medium to long term.They may have incorporated a whole host of funky looking game mechanics, but they will not lead to much traction with your target users.

Why? The main reason is that ready-to-go solutions are designed and implemented without considering the specifics of your business and your target audience in full (What are your users motivated by? What’s the motivation for doing these actions already? What are the motivations not to do them?). They do not adequately address specific business metrics (your key goals and the desired actions you want the user to take) and do not take into full consideration power and motivational push of each feature.

In the end, ready-to-go solutions can help increase short term engagement. But due to their lack of customizability, they often become too general to increase long-term engagement.

Gamification, human-focused design, motivation, Octalysis, engagement

The game of chess has truly mastered human engagement and does not need regular patches, updates or new bricks to stay engaging.

 

How to design a successful Gamification project?

Successful Gamification should start from scratch with defining the business metrics first (the results you want to improve). This should be followed by a thorough analysis of the users you want to engage. If you do this correctly you are on the right path to set up the Strategy Dashboard.

  1. Define what actions do users need to take for your business metrics to improve. No step is too trivial; think about all the actions that require motivation from the user. Examples are entering a web page, creating an account, finding a product, and finally buying a product.
  2. Try to optimise the experience by grouping those actions the 4 different phases of the player journey (discovery, onboarding, scaffolding and endgame). Remember that the first time you open a Macbook you feel different from when you’ve had it for 2 years.
  3. Then think how those different player types will be motivated at all stages of your user experience and only after that start creating your visual and functional designs.

Levelling up the industry

So, great Gamification cannot be just added as a layer to an existing solution. It must be designed by following a meticulously laid out design path. It needs to address human core drive motivation, throughout all the 4 phases of the user experience and for your main user. Only in this way will you be successful in getting really high and sustainable return on investment for your business goals. Your employees will be engaged and your customers will be coming back again and again. For what product or service you bring but, even more so, to re-live the experience around your offering.

Curious to find out how we can help to design a truly engaging experience for your organisation?

 

Contact one of our experts:

Gaute [at] octalysisgroup.com

Ivan [at] octalysisgroup.com

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Is the health crisis an engagement crisis?

Long road

In the 21st century we have the largest, oldest and longest living population the world has ever known.  In 2014, the world population totaled around 7,3 billion people. In developed countries, 20% of the population was aged 65 or above, with a life expectancy of around 80 years old.

What is the cost of this expanding and ageing population? Well, developed countries now have health expenditures between 10% and 12% of their Gross Domestic Product. The greatest spender? The United States, with 17% of its GDP, or a staggering 3 trillion dollars. Wow…

Naturally not all health costs are age related. The point is that many diseases and conditions that lead to health expenditures can be avoided by something very simple: changing people’s lifestyle habits. If we all ate healthier and exercised more, these costs could be drastically reduced (there are a lot of articles corroborating this affirmative. If you want to know more, you can start by reading here, here or here.)

Big companies and startups have tried thousand of different initiatives to tackle this issue. By the end of 2015, there were 165,000 mHealth apps available for download in the Apple iTunes and Google Play stores. Unfortunately, a mere 36 of them (or 0,02% of the total) generate nearly half of all downloads. And none of these have conquered the market in any significant way. Not even Apple, Facebook or Google managed to be really successful with their mHealth apps.

The reason? A clear lack of engagement in these apps. Habit changing takes time, months or even years, and it is not an easy task to keep users engaged for a sustained period of time. Crafting an engaging app requires thorough understanding of human motivation, and cannot be achieved by simply adding a few game mechanics or nice visuals.

The Octalysis Group is known for designing long lasting user engagement using the Octalysis Framework. So let’s use Octalysis to analyze Fitbit, one of the biggest players in the healthcare and fitness market, and see how they fare in creating long-term engagement.

 

THE DISCOVERY PHASE: WHY DO I WANT TO TRY THIS APP?

Fitbit (NYSE: FIT, valued in $2,6B) is an American company that sells activity trackers that measure data such as the number of steps walked, heart rate, quality of sleep and stairs climbed. The company’s value proposition is that by measuring the user’s vital data and presenting it to them, it is possible to grow awareness for their own health and incentivize the adoption of healthy habits.

This data driven approach is a mainly Left Brain strategy (CD4: Ownership and Possession for measuring your own health and CD2: Development and Accomplishment for achieving your own goals). There is also a small Right Brain touch of CD7: Unpredictability and Curiosity, since you never know, for instance, how many steps you actually take in a day or what distance you have walked.

The Discovery Phase of any product begins when users first hear about the product or experience. If I search for “exercise tracker” on search engines, Fitbit is always one of the top 3 options. If I search for “exercise app”, it is also usually well ranked among the top 10.

When I click on Fitbit’s webpage, the first image I see is a shining and beautiful new tracker that triggers both CD4 – Ownership and Possession (“I want this!”) and CD7 – Unpredictability and Curiosity (“What does it do? How much it costs?”). These are effective prompts for me to commit to Fitbit`s desired action here: buy their trackers. The app itself is not considered of main prominence on their website and it is only mentioned after some scrolling down.

If I go directly to the Apple Store and search for “fitness” or “exercise tracker”, the results are not very encouraging for Fitbit. Their app appears on top 30 in the first search and top 50 in the second.

Fitbit website

Their presentation in the App Store is consistent, tough. They have a decent number of qualified reviews (which triggers CD5 – Social Influence and Relatedness) and they show some cool screens containing progress bars, badges, graphs and others (that resonates well with CD2 – Development and Accomplishment).

Fitbit app 1

In a nutshell, Fitbit`s Discovery Phase is strong in CD2 (follow my health developments with the progress bars, points and badges) and CD4 – Ownership and Possession (build my complete fitness profile).

 

THE ONBOARDING PHASE:  PUT YOUR RUNNING SHOES ON AND COME ON BOARD

The second phase of the user’s experience to Octalysis is called Onboarding and it has the goal of teaching the rules of the game to new players. It starts when users download the app and ends when they have learned the fundamental skills needed to play the game and achieve early win-states.

After installing Fitbit, I am presented with a sequence of colorful screens that keeps transitioning in my phone with different value propositions for me: get active, eat better, manage weight and sleep better.

2016-04-09 17.01.26-811 2016-04-09 17.01.16-935 2016-04-09 17.01.18-991 2016-04-09 17.01.21-1071 2016-04-09 17.01.24-1182

I guess we want all of that, right? The call to action is very clear here too: Join Fitbit or Log In. Since I do not have an account yet, let me see what happens when I click the “join” button.

2016-04-09 17.05.31-1308  2016-04-09 17.05.37-1408

Oops! Apparently I must own one of the shining Fitbit trackers to join the party… and I do not. Fitbit could use this screen to try to convince me of the importance of having a tracker for a complete experience, but it simply shows me a list of all their trackers. They all look nice, but I am still not convinced why I should buy one to count my steps if my phone accelerometer can do that for me and even estimate how many calories I have burned.

So I guess this is game over for me with Fibit, right? Oh no, wait! Take a look at the above screen again. Hidden in the bottom, there is a timid “No Fitbit Yet? iPhone 5S tracks the basics” message. Well, I guess I will have to satisfy with the basics then!

2016-04-09 17.06.02-2040  2016-04-09 17.06.12-2090

After choosing to use my phone, Fitbit decides to tell me about what their trackers can actually do. This is not a smart decision. During the Onboarding Phase, the product/system must do everything possible to make the users feel smart and accomplished (CD2), and not questioning their choices.

I know Fitbit’s business is very dependent on selling their tracking devices, but I am sure they have better places to show me how my experience can be enhanced with their trackers.

Proceeding with the Onboarding experience, Fitbit asks me to input some vital data:

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The interface for inputting data is very clear and intuitive (even fun!) and I do not feel bothered for sharing some personal data, since I hope this will make my experience more personalized. How could I trust a health app that does not even know my height and weight, right?

Since I am still onboarding in the app, it would be smart if Fitbit asks me only for the most relevant data for personalization purpose (spoiler: they do) and also shows me some sort of progress to have an idea of how many more inputs lies ahead of me (spoiler: they don’t).

After some Terms of Service and Privacy Policy screens – I assume mandatory for this kind of app – I finally arrived at the promised land: Fitbit’s main screen!

If you are not familiar with Fitbit and are following this experience with me, I propose a small exercise. Contemplate the screen below for 8 seconds – the usual attention span for mobile phone users – and answer me: where would you click first? Important: If you are under 18, you can contemplate the screen for 4 seconds or less. I don’t want to keep you waiting for endless 8 seconds. And if you are a goldfish, you can take your whole 9 seconds, don’t worry. I will wait.

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So, what is your answer? Where would you have clicked?

  1. In the “red alert” email verification label?
  2. In the “number of steps” counter?
  3. In “calories burned”?
  4. In “Track exercise”?
  5. Somewhere in the inferior Dashboard/Challenges/Friends/Account menu?
  6. Anywhere else?

You could argue that it depends on the user goals with the app, but let’s assume that it is just a user trying to know the app better, like you and me. What we are trying to figure out here is: according to Fitbit, what is the desired action in this screen, the first one the users see and probably the most important in their entire experience?

The correct answer is clearly letter A. Or B. It could be C also. And maybe D… I think you got the point. There is no clear desired action in this important screen and since all of the elements are new to the user, it is easy to feel lost here. “Feel lost?”, I can hear you and Fitbit’s UI designers scream, “this is the simplest app screen I have ever seen! It is simply a dashboard!” Exactly. It is simply that and nothing more. What kind of action a dashboard prompts you to do? Look at it and if nothing changes (hopefully, otherwise you would probably not understand what is happening), then you are gone. Imagine that we – the users – are like Homer Simpson in front of a power plant control panel. If there is not blinking, we will assume everything is fine and we will keep eating our donut. If everything is blinking, we will panic and probably will not act either.

simpsons

This is the feeling Fitbit’s above screen gives me: it is all fine and static, so I can go eat my donut safely.

Since I am not planning on doing an exercise right now, I am prone to leave the app now and return to it later, after some steps. Or maybe return in the end of the day. Or after some long random walk to see how many steps I did. If I remember that I have downloaded the app, of course. The point is that a successful app should never leave the users with this kind of decisions or might risk losing them.

For Fitbit’s fans, a comment: Fitbit app has hundreds of things that are done right in their main screen. It is visually simple; the colors are great; it lets me login first and verify my email later; it shows me some progress and many more good designs. Take a look at the following screen, for instance.

2016-04-10 17.10.01-6209  2016-04-10 17.10.24-6440

Pretty cool, right? This is the “Challenges” section of the inferior menu bar and it presents me with a series of challenges I can commit myself to. If I click on the first one (apparently the only one I can do alone), it challenges me to hit my “daily step goal”. Not sure what this is, but let’s do it! By the way, very nice and thoughtful option of “starting tomorrow”. Probably by choosing this option the user will be reminded of the challenge first thing in the morning. This is a great use of the Choice Perception (Game Technique #89). If a user clicks in a challenge out of curiosity, for example, he is presented with two main options: start now and start tomorrow. If he does not want to start now, the Start Tomorrow option seems tempting; after all, it will not sound as if he is not willing to take the challenge. But if you stop and think, both options are the same: start! And certainly this is the desired action in this screen, so way to go Fitbit!

If I choose any other challenge that demands at least one more participant or click in the “Friends” option in the inferior menu bar, I end up in the following screen.

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Is it just me or this is the cutest fox ever? She just wants to play and is even offering me ice cream. And I do not even need to worry about her safety, because she has her helmet on!

Every app with any kind of social interaction (in other words, every app except for you lantern) deals with the problem of making the user invite their friends to use the app or showing them their friends that are already using the app. The latter is easier and is usually achieved by social login. But how to prompt users to invite their friends for something they do not even know yet?

The simple answer is: let them know the app first. The best way to ask users to invite their friends is after the First Major Win-State, that moment when the users reached a ‘wow’ moment and would almost automatically think: “Cool! I wanna share this with my friends!” When the app allows user invitation at any moment, like Fitbit does, the most important advice is to never leave the users with the bitter taste of a bad experience like “You have no friends” and nothing else. There are at least two much better options to dealing with this problem.

The first you can find out in most of The Octalysis Group projects (do the words Scarcity and Curiosity sound familiar to you?), but the second is exactly what Fitbit has done: use some sense of humor.

Using humor is a great UX practice and makes users wondering, “When the next joke is coming? Are there more funny screens?”, which resonates with CD7 and help in the engagement process.

The second phase of the user experience – Onboarding – ends when the user has done all the main desired actions at least once and is familiar with the game rules. Fitbit app has a lot of desired actions, but we will consider this phase finished with the following screen.

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This is the “Account” tab of the inferior menu, the last main option. My eyes are immediately caught by the first half of the screen, where I can review my profile, sync and set up new trackers and also buy a Fitbit tracker if I am convinced they are essential to my experience (and so far, I am not). My eyes were not attracted to what is below the “Shop Fitbit” button, mainly because they are colorless and not attractive. Keep that in mind, because this will be decisive for my future experience with the app.

Having done the main desired actions at least once, now it is time to start walking and running with my phone to see how Fitbit will help me to be healthier.

THE SCAFFOLDING PHASE:  MY POINTS AND STATS JOURNEY

My plan was to keep the cellphone in my pocket for a whole week and check Fitbit at the end of each day to see how I was doing. Unfortunately, this plan only lasted three days (check the screens below).

Screenshot 2016-04-15 09.05.50-12844  Screenshot 2016-04-15 09.03.09-12815

They look like three days of complete failures, right? The problem is that I was walking! On Tuesday I have even walked more than usual, parking my car more distant than where I usually do just to take some more steps. Nevertheless, it was a failure again.

I have decided to explore the app one more time to try to make my experience more rewarding, because I am still on the first steps and feeling accomplished remains a priority. If I get a whole week of failures with no explanations, the sense of development and accomplishment (CD2) is gone and probably I will be gone too.

My first try was to go back to the “Goal Day” challenge screen to see if I could change the challenge parameters in some way or at least find out what the step goal actually is, but that was in vain. Then I have tried the “number of steps” in the first screen, but all I could see was my step count history. I was about to give up when I clicked in the infamous “Account” tab once more, simply because it was the only one I have not clicked yet. And there it was.

2016-04-10 17.15.57-7037  2016-04-13 14.49.13-12943 

You are probably thinking that I am stupid for not seeing this before, right? I mean, in case you have already seen where I am supposed to click to change my daily step goal in the above screen (it is still not obvious!). In my defense, when I am testing a new product, I like to turn the “stupid mode on” to make sure the experience is crystal clear to the user. Sorry to say this, Fitbit, but yours is not. The customization of such an important feature is hidden in the bottom half of the last tab screen, vaguely named “Account”.

I was curious to see how many opportunities Fitbit had during my Onboarding to link me directly to the above screen. Count with me, please: I can see one, two, three…

Screenshot 2016-04-15 07.43.35-12685 Screenshot 2016-04-15 09.29.38-13099  Screenshot 2016-04-15 09.29.55-13133

… and an obvious fourth one! There is absolutely no reason for not having a button like the one below in my main ‘Steps Dashboard’ screen:

temp.001

I have decided to change my daily step goal to an easy 1,000 steps count just to (finally) feel accomplished. I did this, put my sneakers on and hit the road as if I were Forrest Gump, determined to stop only when I had reached my goal.

Ten minutes later and victory was mine.

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Something as simple as that helped me feel more accomplished and willing to try new goals. If the app value proposition circles around accomplishment and measurements, why not making your users feel accomplished as soon as possible?

Addendum: I have decided to explore some more about this step count goal and I have find out in Fitbit’s blog that the default goal is 10,000 steps a day, something recommended by the CDC, but definitely not an easy task to sedentary people. Nevertheless, it would not hurt Fitbit’s app to explain this to the users in simple terms without redirecting to their blog. It could even shows the users some sort of guiding table like the one I have done after a rigorous 5-minutes research on Google.

Screenshot 2016-07-26 01.22.04

The ironic part of a fitness app that does not like to give their users easy wins, is that Fitbit actually has some cool badges and rewarding screens. Take a look at this screen solely dedicated to show me my personal best number of steps in a single day.

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Fitbit has several other cool functionalities, like calories count, eating goals, sleep quality control, GPS tracking during exercises, friendly competitions and more. I could go on and on writing about these, but if you have reached this far, you probably got the idea of the kind of app analysis we do in The Octalysis Group and would be happy with some wrapping up, I suppose. So hold on for three more minutes, because we have reached the Endgame.

 

THE END GAME PHASE: GAME OVER OR GAME ON?

The Endgame Phase begins when the users have completed the activity loop of desired actions → win-states → rewards so many times that they are true veterans of the experience. Instead of letting these players leave – after all, they have already used the app a lot -, the system should recognize their value and adapt itself to be even more engaging to them.

Since Fitbit app is daily collecting health information from their users – even if they do not have any trackers -, it is understandable that they reach the Endgame Phase with a CD4 – Ownership and Possession and CD8 – Loss and Avoidance combo. They have already stored so much information in the app that it gets less and less attractive each passing day to change it for some other. Fitbit has also some improvements to do towards Endgame: their experience becomes predictable as time goes by (no CD7) and the the users do not experience any form of Epic Meaning and Calling (CD1).

In The Octalysis Group, we usually conclude the analysis of each of the four phases of a product experience with a summary of the main takeaways and a list of quick fixes. Since I am not planning on sharing more screens with you, I will share some of the Endgame suggestions we have done for Fitbit so you can have a better understanding of the kind of work we deliver:

  • Use a combo of CD4 and CD7 to give users a surprise discount in a new and more advanced Fitbit tracker. For instance, if the user completed all the challenges using a simple step counter tracker, he could get a huge discount in a tracker that also monitors sleeping, so he will be motivated to try the Fitbit app again with a more powerful “weapon” that will work as a booster.
  • Use CD2 to unlock more powerful and “almost impossible” challenges to players that have completed all the available challenges.
  • Use a combo of CD3 and CD7 to allow veterans players to create their own challenges that could be available to all other players. This would motivate CD3 for the creation process and also CD7 to keep coming back to the app to see the new challenges.

 

FINAL REMARKS

The healthcare wearable’s global shipments are expected to increase at a compound annual growth rate of 24.8% over the five years, reaching 162.9 million units in 2020. Not surprisingly, great names like Apple, Google and Microsoft are already launching its first products in this attractive market.

But what is the final verdict for Fitbit experience? Did they solve the ‘gold pot’ problem of the long-term engagement? There are good and bad news for the competition. Fitbit has the upper hand in this market and sells a lot of tracking devices options; so it is not going to be easy to steal its market share. Every day that Fitbit collects data from their users, it enhances the feeling of Ownership and Possession (CD4) and leaves the user afraid of losing precious health history and a system they already know so well (CD8). As long as the years keep ending in December 31th and people keep making new-year resolutions to be fitter and thinner, Fitbit will thrive.

The good news for competition is that Fitbit has not solved the long-term engagement problem. It certainly has a great app that is useful to be combined with its physical trackers, but so far the experience is mainly focused on just one player type (Level 3 Octalysis) and has not been able to adequately balance the eight Core Drives during the four experience phases of the player journey.

The history of the tracking devices for healthcare is in its first pages and Fitbit is helping writing them. As long as user motivation remains a relevant problem for behavior changing, The Octalysis Group will keep tracking this market.

Final note: This blog post is a small sample of an Audit, one of the services The Octalysis Group offer to his clients.

 

If you want to know more about what Octalysis can do for your organization to drive engagement, contact us at:

Joris[at]octalysisgroup[dot]com

Tiago[at]octalysisgroup[dot]com

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The Happiness Science behind Octalysis

Octalysis picture happiness science

We often get asked what the science is behind the Octalysis Framework and what exactly makes Octalysis so powerful. Our answer normally relates to human focused design, and how designing for the 8 Core Drives leads to more motivation of users and employees. And this is true: Octalysis Designed Products (apps, websites, policies etc) are much more effective and have impressive ROIs. Octalysis Employee Gamification leads to very significant increases in employee engagement, and retention. As importantly though, we want to create fun and happiness through our Gamification efforts.

 

Happiness?
Is creating happiness not a luxury problem? Is that important for my investors? Creating engagement, OK. Motivation, sure. But surely some things like paying your bills, checking your bank account or filing your expenses cannot make you happy? And why do they need to be made fun?

That makes sense right? Can some things just be left boring or serious? Yes, some things should be left serious and should not be made fun. Funerals are a case in point. However, the large majority of our activities should be: the way we buy things online; the way we learn; the way we cooperate; the way we discover… The list is endless.

So why happiness? Because having more fun and happy moments leads to more creativity and better results. It leads to happier customers for example as well. Happy customers are much more likely to return to your website or app and are much more likely to recommend your product to their friends. All of this on the basis of their happiness with the experience, even when their interest in the product they are buying was not that great at the start of the experience. Did you know that people judge the work of happy people in a more positive light, and therefore are more likely to try out their recommendations?

Employee happiness & Positive Emotions
With around 70% of the current workforce not engaged and around 20% actively disgruntled, most people now agree that something has to change on the work floor. But not that many people look at ways on how to create employee happiness by creating positive emotions.

This is sad, as supervisors evaluate happy individuals more positively, show superior performance and productivity, and handle managerial jobs better. They are also less likely to show counterproductive workplace behavior and job burnout. In several studies, the mean corrected correlation between having positive experiences and job satisfaction was .49 (1 being a 100% correlation, 0 being no correlation). Why is this?

 

The Power of Positivity
Positive emotions make people approach new situations rather than avoid them and make them analyze situations better. Because happy people experience frequent positive moods, they more actively work towards new goals while experiencing those moods. Second, happy people are more thorough as they have already built up an array of positive skills and resources over time. One short-term example of the effect in practice: physicians who received a small present before they were asked to analyze a medical problem, were much more creative in their solutions and obtained much better results.

Finally, work performance is more strongly related to happiness and well-being on the job than by whether your job “objectively” is more fun or not (Wright and Cropanzano (2000)). In turn, a positive organizational climate was correlated with productivity (r _ .31) and profitability (r _ .36; Foster, Hebl, West, & Dawson, 2004).

 

Octalysis brings it all together: scientifically

Scientists know that there are 5 things that bring about happiness if you experience them regularly. Octalysis was developed in close relation to these findings:

1. Positive emotion: feelings of pleasure, glee, satisfaction, amazement.
Positive emotions are correlated with Core Drive 3 (Empowerment of Creativity and Feedback) when you feel satisfied that your way of solving challenge was the right one, which leads to Core Drive 2 (Progress and Development). Similarly Core Drive 7 (Curiosity and Unpredictability) leads to dopamine spikes when we get something unexpected like winning a lottery.

2. Engagement: Flow, or being fully immersed in what we’re doing.
In our Octalysis Designs we install a learning curve and a path to achieve mastery during the experience and use our Core Drives as a tool to keep users in “flow” (this is still where Mihály Csíkszentmihályi’s flow theory comes in)
3. Accomplishment: Mastery and success.
Core Drive 2 (Progress and Development) give you proof of progressing by achieving XP, badges, level ups etc and this often leads to Core Drive 4 (Ownership and Possession) when users build up their Trophy Hall, Armouries and other Collection Set holders.

4. Relationships
Regular and supportive social interaction and influence is a hallmark of the Octalysis Framework (Core Drive 5: Social Influence and Relatedness). In our designs we make sure that relationships in and outside of the experience are strengthened and expanded. Great for happiness, great for engagement, great for motivation, great for sales!

5. Meaning
Belonging to and serving something bigger than the self. Most likely the most quoted Core Drive, Octalysis Core Drive 1 (Epic Meaning and Calling). The link between happiness and meaning in scientific literature is quite strong. Short to medium term happiness can exist without meaning but having a meaningful life often leads to happier people (although you can argue that the human rights worker who is thrown in jail in North Korea may experience some very unhappy moments of course).

 

welcome-to-happinessOctalysis: the path to happiness and success
We discussed Core Drive 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and how they are related to science in happiness (whilst Core Drive 7 is related through happiness by creating positive emotions).
Core Drives 6 (Scarcity and Impatience) and Core Drive 8 (Loss & Avoidance) are less directly related to happiness. Also Core Drive 7 can lead to unhappy outcomes if applied in extremes, like addictive gambling. These Black Hat Octalysis Drives often do not give you a happy feeling. However, we use them to help start people up, and keep them locked in, in their path to fun-fuelled engagement. So paradoxically, even if we use negative motivators, the users of our designs always end up happier!

And happiness leads to? Yes, better productivity, more sales, more referrals, more creativity, more ideas, more cooperation, and more engagement. We at The Octalysis Group think it leads to a new and better world, where in a decade or so the difference fun and work will have disappeared. Experiencing happiness will be the norm, not the exception!

 

Let us help you create happiness success with Octalysis:

 

joris@octalysisgroup.com

yukai@octalysisgroup.com

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