The concept of gamification in Casinos is a relatively new addition to this area of business, only coming into presence sometime between 2011-2013. The partial migration to the digital world has created a tectonic shift in the audience that was previously more niche when it came to taking a trip to the casino because gamification creates completely new dimensions for gambling, it adds an extra depth to the gambling experience by adding traditional video game reinforcement into gambling.
This multi-level experience comes in the form of storylines, missions, and leaderboards. All these components can create absorption into the game, which leads to extended periods in front of the game and more of a probability of winning. Gamification ranges from models that are very simple like the popular and addictive Candy Crush Saga, and other games move away from the straightforward model into a hybrid of slots and in-game prompts for side adventure games that come in a variety of forms. Like spins, character games, shooter games, and others that are similar. For example, a popular online casino like Rizk implements something called the spin wheel. The spin wheel utilizes the classic variable ratio reward theory, developed back in the 1930s by B.F. Skinner, a psychologist who studied reward schedules observing pigeon behaviour and then realizing humans exhibited the same type of behaviour. The variable-ratio reward stated that the pigeon was prone to press a lever when there was just a 50% chance of receiving a reward, and this concept also applies to the spin wheel. People only need that 50% to continue, and since it is portrayed as a simple game on a website, the reality factor, albeit real, is forgotten for a little bit. So Rizk uses this variable ratio reward in their spin model in that they encourage and incentivize spins via other games to increase gambling activity in players, the key to this model is that it is extremely simple in design and delivery.
Leaderboards are also another component that is often seen in games. This type of player reporting was seen early on in the video game industry in popular console games like Street Fighter, particularly if you were playing in multiplayer mode, which included a screen at the end of a game where you can see the players ranked according to their different skills and moves utilized within the game.
Similarly, leaderboards in the online casino setting also have a similar motivation model. However, they also include extrinsic motivators where internal game credits are directly tied into obtaining extrinsic prizes. If a player keeps themselves at the top of the leaderboard they gain an extra prize as a reward.
For example, in the online casino Ikibu, they include daily, weekly, monthly leaderboards that immediately show races promoting the slot games through building competition amongst players viewing the leaderboard. This plays into the theory of real competition where individuals might make small risks (monetary or time) to keep them in the game and compels other players to continue climbing the leaderboard. Many have bonus prizes, like $15 for first place players on the leaderboard.
Another feature that has immersed players in the online casino experience is the use of story-themed and goal-oriented missions. This is an aspect of gaming that is commonly seen in first-person/third-person shooters and even general role-playing massive online multiplayer environments. For example, Kaboo has an interface in which the player can select the type of missions they want to play. As the player plays missions they earn labour credits which give them free spins to win prizes. Casino Heroes plays a little further into the roleplay aspect where you go on virtual adventures and have to defeat opponents and you win a prize, this site comes complete with various developed characters and the motto “The Casino that gives you more!”, essentially driving the point that today’s audience is looking for a little more than levers to pull. On the landing page of casino heroes, you will find information on three different islands that you can visit. For example, there is a treasure island, a rock of ridges, and mythical mountains. One includes a dragon to defeat, the other an evil mafia boss, and the other a mission to obtain a holy grail protected by a variety of enemies. This model in itself has the potential to reach a larger audience, specifically our current generation of people that are used to gaming that can transition seamlessly into the casino arena.
The virtual world roleplay adds another dimension to “staying in the game” that is one of the components that may be a little harder to track in a physical casino. In a regular casino, you pretty much play your games and walk out whenever. Whereas online, there is the ability to be immersed in a virtual world that also has tangential games to indulge in. For example, in some casino games, there is the aspect of gaining points just by remaining within the platform and having the ability to collect resources within the game to later use to redeem points. This adds intrinsic and extrinsic value. There is intrinsic value in socializing with other players and them inspecting your stats and gaining internal respect and rewards, alongside the concept of extrinsic rewards gained from playing the game, a.k.a (monetary gain). The intrinsic builds on the innate pull to play the game, and the extrinsic has a grounding effect for the player.
Staying in the game also builds into another aspect of gamification, player loyalty rewards. Ikibu does this well in that they incentivize players to stay in the game longer by having players compete for specific adventures that then give them prizes. They also include games within games so it is not just slots and then a sign-off.
The last aspect of gamification that solidifies its effectiveness in producing active engagement is an external socializing aspect. Progress and specific statistics that reflect player success is the addition of social media. Facebook had a model like this for games like Farmville where referring friends and sharing results of leaderboards were common and rewarded in-game. This makes the earnings seem “more real” when you can introduce them externally to your friend base. It also builds competition and even camaraderie as players may use stats to improve or compare and teach skills to improve gameplay.
Overall, gamification has broadened the reach of casino players, and the key is immersion and in-between game structures to keep players on task. All techniques of course building upon classic conditioning and reward theories, and very effective. Gamification is so immersive today, that the extrinsic rewards are almost a perk to the game itself.