Gamification market to reach $2.8 billion in 2016

Report from M2 Research projects tremendous growth

Gamification, the process of applying game mechanics to activities that aren't games, is rapidly becoming a big business, according to a new report by Wanda Meloni of M2 Research. She projects the market to reach $242 million in 2012 (more than double the 2011 total), and to climb to $2.8 billion in 2016.

"Gamification takes advantage of game mechanics to deliver engaging applications, and make non‐game applications more entertaining and appealing," said Meloni. The market for gamification has broadened rapidly, as the process has spread from consumer and media brands to the enterprise, healthcare and educational markets. "The adoption of applying game mechanics in more nontraditional industries has grown exponentially in the past 18 months," noted Meloni.

"The adoption of applying game mechanics in more nontraditional industries has grown exponentially in the past 18 months"

Wanda Meloni, M2 Research

M2 Research estimates that the total market for video games, video game rentals, subscriptions, digital downloads, casual games, social games, mobile games and downloadable content will top $50 billion (not including hardware sales) in 2012. Gamification is still a small part of this market, but its rapid rise shows the increasing social acceptance of games and the realization that game mechanics can be a powerful motivational tool.

The gamification market in 2012 is estimated by M2 Research as 62 percent consumer-driven (down from 91 percent in January 2011) and 38 percent enterprise-driven (up from 9 percent in January 2011). "Currently, enterprise represents the biggest segment of the market for new growth at 25% of the market," said Meloni. Entertainment and Media/Publishing represent the next largest segments at 18% and 17% respectively. "M2 Research expects game design within the enterprise to quickly rise and become the dominant segment of gamification by the end of 2013," Meloni said.

The amazing spread of social games has shown that game mechanics can reach a wide audience of all types of people, with very few few of them being traditional gamers. The basic tools and techniques of game design are being employed in marketing, brand-building, employee reward programs, education and training, and many other areas. Several companies, including Seriosity, Bunchball, and Gigya, have been around for years and have impressive client rosters, including ABC, NBC, CBS, NASA, Microsoft, Chrysler, Cnet, Sprint, and many others.

Pew Research recently completed a study of the future of gamification, noting in their overview: "Tech stakeholders and analysts generally believe the use of game mechanics, feedback loops, and rewards will become more embedded in daily life by 2020, but they are split about how widely the trend will extend. Some say the move to implement more game elements in networked communications will be mostly positive, aiding education, health, business, and training. Some warn it can take the form of invisible, insidious behavioral manipulation."

"Some warn it can take the form of invisible, insidious behavioral manipulation"

Pew Research

The Gartner Group has projected 50% of corporate innovation will be "gamified" by 2015. Deloitte called gamification one of the Top 10 Technology Trends for 2012, noting that "Serious gaming simulations and game mechanics such as leaderboards, achievements, and skill-based learning are becoming embedded in day-to-day business processes, driving adoption, performance, and engagement."

Not everyone believes that gamification is useful, inevitable, or desirable. Ian Bogost, professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology, is blunt: "Gamification is bullshit....More specifically, gamification is marketing bullshit, invented by consultants as a means to capture the wild, coveted beast that is videogames and to domesticate it for use in the grey, hopeless wasteland of big business, where bullshit already reigns anyway."

What do you think?

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Latest comments (5)

Mike Wells Writer 10 years ago
Isn't this just a label being applied to a bunch of stuff that we've done since the year dot in order to create a "market" that bullshit-mongers can blather on about? I seem to remember being given gold stars at school when I was five years old -- leaderboards ain't new
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Robert Barrow Information Security Analyst 10 years ago
Perhaps the addition of weapons and the ability to kill marketing people for points, if you perceive the product you got isn't what you wanted, will be the next step. Perhaps we'll call that one Rationalisation...

Seriously though this is just a label created to sell a few books and milk thousands off people for training courses they don't need.
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Timo Tolonen Community Manager, Jagex Games Studio10 years ago
I actually think 'gamification' can be a positive trend. If the person's work is being 'gamified' and as a result they enjoy it more and are more productive, it is a net benefit for all parties.

A lot of popular productivity apps do 'gamification' at its most direct: create tracked, ranked and shared reward systems for chores etc. 'Epic Win' is a prime example of this. It makes the game part more visible and blatant in its RPG tropes, but the core ideas of levels/XP gain is something that can be applied to other real life tasks. There was a TED talk that made the rounds about this very subject a year or two ago. Achievements and point systems are strong motivators and tap pretty directly into people's innate desires for rewards and the feedback loop mentioned in the article.

Still, I will probably not enjoy doing my tax returns more if I get a banana sticker and 70 tax XP (TAXP?) but there are systems and ways to make tasks more rewarding.
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Bengt Gregory-Brown VP IP Development, Maslow Six Entertainment10 years ago
As is the case with most 'novel' ideas, profiteers abound, touting promised and difficult-to-confirm benefits. A second and possibly overlapping group, the evangelists, generally believe in what they profess, but will only speak of the positive. Detractors only speak of the net zero hype, largely or entirely overlooking the cases in which positive goals are accomplished. A small minority are left to rigorously pursue the nuggets of actual utility and contribute to the growth of the new discipline. In time, parts of gamification theory will prove their value and parts won't, and the results will seem obvious in hindsight. (See hand washing for doctors)
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Rick Cody PBnGames-Board Member 10 years ago
When an inner-city kid, surrounded by poverty and bad examples, sees a little meter going up on the computer as he completes each question of his homework he'll see a more direct correlation to the fact that he or she is doing something useful. If you can manage to put that success into perspective and show them where they can get, and why they should get there, you have the potential to change societies.
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