GameLayer seeks to be a game changer
Gamification is a buzzword that attracts many but is seemingly understood by few. This Helsinki-based startup aims to change that.
Think about the last game that you played. What were the things that kept you coming back for more? Well, these mechanisms can also be leveraged for business services, engaging and motivating user activity.
“Gamification is not about creating a game at all, or even fun,” states Steven Judge, CEO of GameLayer. “It’s about creating long-lasting loyalty to an app or service.”
Clarifying the gamification buzzword has been one of Judge’s chief aims ever since he founded the company in 2012. After leaving his post at Nokia, he sought to further develop the work he had started whilst at the Finnish communications giant.
“I wanted to continue this idea of creating a new and flexible platform for app developers and service providers,” Judge says. “This would leverage the kind of things we find in games that catch your attention and keep you motivated.”
The end result is Snap!, a SaaS platform providing cloud-based mechanics that can be integrated into any app or service to motivate and engage users.
Keeping your customers
GameLayer sets out to challenge a common misconception many companies have regarding their customers. Given the omnipresent free-to-play model of games these days, Judge emphasises that it’s important for app and service providers to consider moving beyond merely an acquisition focus.
“Acquiring customers is obviously still very important,” he says. “However, keeping them is even more so. Most acquisition is lost in the first month. Something like 80 per cent of apps are downloaded once and then deleted. It’s really about speaking to your existing base, keeping them happy and coming back for more.”
To illustrate the point, Judge opens his laptop to show how the Snap! platform has been used for the past 12 months by Veikkaus, Finland’s state-owned betting agency.
“We have been powering a gamified loyalty programme for them,” he says. “Almost 150 000 users have signed up. Veikkaus publishes missions for its users to complete, which can be anything that adds business value such as watching a video about a new product, or following the brand on social media.”
All the while users accumulate ‘experience points’ as they familiarise themselves with various aspects of the company, and can redeem those points for rewards provided by Veikkaus.
“Users are also able to level up and compete with other players on the rankings,” Judge explains. “It’s going really well so far.”
Indeed – users have completed over 8.5 million missions in around ten months.
Having designed Snap! to be as flexible and open as possible, GameLayer is also attracting interest from airlines, hotel chains, banks and insurance companies, along with education service and retail providers. Other potential avenues include public transport and Pokémon Go-inspired location services. Not to be outdone, health and wellbeing is also on its radar.
“When I set up GameLayer we had a few ideologies,” Judge says. “One of the underlying principals is that we can use these game-like experiences to make a positive impact on society, or a group of people or simply just a handful of individuals.”
Now, with its first significant customer under its belt, the company is looking forward to a day when the gamification buzzword becomes somewhat obsolete and has evolved to become just another part of the service design process.
“We have proven the technology and approach – it is stable, scalable and secure,” Judge explains. “It’s really just about building up the distribution now.”
To do this, the company is currently seeking to attract investors.
“We are currently looking for funding opportunities, so we can hire a couple of critical resources to capitalise on the opportunity and make the product offering more broad.”
Text: James O’Sullivan