How to Use Gamification in your App

Gamification has been rapidly growing in popularity over recent years. If you have not heard of it, that’s alright — but there is a high likeliness that you have been in contact with a form of gamification without even realizing it.

Gamification involves implementing game aspects, practises, and mechanics, in non-game situations. This is often employed by businesses to increase user interaction, which in turn can increase sales, return on investment (aka ROI), and user retention. Outside of business, gamification can be used to improve learning, gain analytics and insight into certain behaviours, as well as increase or provide entertainment value.

Great examples of gamification are customer/loyalty reward programs, where a user collects points/badges/levels which accumulate through use and can be put towards prizes and other rewards. Airmiles is a prime example of this. In a learning environment, the web and mobile app Duolingo has implemented gamification to increase enjoyment and retention for learning a new language.

Gamification can be implemented in various ways into your mobile app. Below are listed the five most common types of gamification as well as examples of them in use:


Having specific tasks provide players with rewards such as points, discounts, badges, free shipping. This is a common way to add some extra value to a user’s interaction, even if that interaction is simply logging into your mobile app on a daily basis. Airmiles and many other loyalty reward programs use this form extensively, offering users a variety of rewards depending on use and points saved.


Progress/experience bars show users how close they are towards a certain goal. The Starbucks rewards program uses this on their mobile app. The bar fills up for every drink purchased, when the bar is filled, the next drink ordered is free of charge. The bar then empties, and the process repeats.


Virtual currency is a popular means of gamification. It gives the user a sense of earning or winning without “real money” having to change hands. Using one of the examples from before, Duolingo does this with their currency titled “Lingots”. This currency is used to make in-app purchases for different game add-ons that increase a user’s experience. Duolingo supplements this with the first and second points listed above, rewarding players for specific tasks and using an experience bar, providing users with three forms of gamification. (Maybe that is why their app is so engaging)


Competition amongst users is a great way to encourage users to get friends involved with an app. It also encourages active participation, where they would be required to use the app on a daily basis in order to stay competitive. This form is implemented by having leaderboards, or by having progress/badges/levels visible to other users. Many Facebook games implement this, as users can post their high scores to their timeline. Amazon also allows users to post recent purchases to social media, increasing visibility of their brand, and having friends of said user possibly buying the same product. If you were wondering, yes Duolingo allows you to view added friends’ progress. (They really do gamification well)


The last type of gamification is adding fun or game like elements to applications and processes that can be seen by some people as boring. Think of Microsoft Office’s paper clip, who can help a user through the steps of implementing a feature that they may have been unaware of previously.

As you can see — gamification can be implemented into a wide array of applications and processes. It truly is a great way to engage users in ways that delight and entertain them, prompting them to return to the app time and time again.