One question I often get asked often is this…
How can I make my product as sticky as a game?
People know that games fall into the realm of entertainment. Therefore, people choose to be glued to their screens and even pay money to complete tasks and quests. Oh, wouldn’t it be great if they did that for your fitness app, your social networking app, homework app, your messaging app, your live streaming app, etc.? Yes, of course! However, the approaches to designing games and designing apps are incredibly different. But, they need not be — especially the parts that make it sticky. Often, many people think that it’s a tactic of leaderboards, badges and points (which is called gamification) that make a game so sticky. But it’s not. Almost all games have this, but only a small percentage of games succeed. So would it be so easy to slap on leaderboards, badges and points and make your product magically sticky? Of course not.
A great game is so much more than just points, badges and leaderboards.
As a product designer for non-entertainment apps, the designer thinks of the interface and experience regarding features and tasks.
Sometimes, these features can be built in silos and separate teams from one another. The features can be released at different times, and sometimes never impact each other. Therefore, they can be bolted on without affecting one another. You can see most of the product requirements document (PRD) within the interface tab or navigation structure. However, for a game designer, it is different. For the game designer, she thinks about the game in regarding story and loops.
Often, you will hear game designers talk about the “core loop”. A core loop is the basic action of the game that people do over and over and is the “main event” of the game. For a fighting game, it is the “fighting”, for a puzzle game, it is “solving”, for an RPG game, it is “your character” and so on and so forth. The game designer works on that core loop to be as fun and as engaging as possible. Then, the game designer builds around the core loop much similar to co-centric circles.Without the core loop, the game has no heart or soul; it is dead.
From there, the game designer makes this core loop a part of a habit, which if successful, turns into a daily habit. In our flagship game Kingdoms of Camelot, a strategy based empire building game, “building” was the core loop. The game required the player to build its resources, which allowed you to build a kingdom and ultimately build your army so you can attack other empires and grow your empire.
When I began to play, the core loop of building began to control my life. I had set my alarm to wake up in the middle of the night so that when a building had finished constructing, I could construct another building and use the next 3 hours to sleep soundly, knowing my kingdom was building every hour I was asleep.
Eventually, this game became a daily ritual in which I did three things in the morning and the afternoon: collect/harvest my resources, train my troops, and build my kingdom.
Think about the core of your product. What is it? Is it micro-blogging? Is it posting? Is it live streaming? Whatever it is, make that feature really, really, really awesome and core to your product. Next, build a daily ritual of three habits from that. This forms a sticky daily ritual that translates into a sticky product. Facebook is a great example of this. Their vision is to connect the world. Their core feature is the newsfeed. Every morning I have a daily ritual of checking my newsfeed.
My ritual comprises of: 1) Checking notifications if there are any new ones (red indicator) 2) If not, I scroll through my newsfeed 3) Like/comment on anything interesting. These three habits make up my daily ritual with Facebook. Other people may do those things in a different order or check something else first, but I’m sure it revolves around the newsfeed.
So, to make your product sticky…
- Find your core function and work on that really, really well
- Make at least 3 daily habits that the user can do around the core
These three habits become a daily ritual, and in this daily ritual, the user becomes the center of your product experience.
And, only good things can come from that.
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I am the co-founder and Chief Development Officer of Kabam, these perspectives are my own and do not necessarily represent Kabam.