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Tournaments & Leaderboards – The Gateway to Gamification

In the first two posts, we talked about what Gamification is, and we identified that the first part of the puzzle is unifying the vast amounts of product and player data that we generate; data that might ordinarily go to waste.

So, what we do next?

I’m on top of the world, Ma

Thinking back to our original definition, we established that one of the core attributes of Gamification is adding a competitive element to an activity.

If we take our cue from the sporting world, the most obvious way of introducing a competitive element to a product is to do it in the form of a Tournament.

There are several reasons why the sporting world employs tournaments; in their rawest form tournaments are a simple way of sorting out the weak from the chaff, the good from the strong. Thus the winner of a tournament has bragging rights, a sense of achievement and, crucially, recognition from peers and others alike. It’s for these same reasons that tournaments are also appealing to customers, i.e. the marriage of peer rivalry with a medium to compare yourself against your competitors – in real-time – and the ability to share your progress with peers

Making Tournaments work for you  

In much the same way that UEFA wants Barcelona, Real Madrid, Liverpool et al. to win the Champions League, or the ATP/WTA want the tops seeds at Wimbledon to reach the final. Tournaments in the gaming industry should look to favour particular groups of customers and as many customers as possible, but without nullifying the competitive element too much.

Again, taking our cue from the sports world, where world-class tournaments such as the World Cup, Tennis Grand Slams, Champions League, FA Cup, Darts, and many more are routinely set up to ensure that the ‘best’ and most marketable teams and players have the greatest chance of prevailing. Either by convoluted ranking or seeding systems, complex draws and the like, we too can ‘optimise’ Tournaments by looking at the strengths and weaknesses of our competitors and favouring the attribute(s) that produces the most engaging result(s).

However, unlike in our sports comparison, we need to take the opposite view to promote elite level athletes and teams and look to create a tournament experience that is accessible to everyone and gives as many competitors as possible the chance to participate at every level. We can do this by creating a dynamic and unpredictable tournament leaderboards.

For example, deposits, or ‘new money’ are the very lifeblood of the business and economic ecology for any transactional product, especially P2P products such as poker or indeed financial or betting exchanges. However, companies only make money when that deposit is spent on their website.

With this in mind, a simple option would be to create a dual-scoring mechanism of deposits and turnover, where deposited money is weighted more favourably than spent money. For example, every unit deposited could be worth 50 points, whereas every unit of spend might be worth 5 points – in effect, we are saying that a deposit is worth 10x the same amount spent. If we get this ratio right, the tournament will naturally promote players who both deposit AND spend and ought to be a dynamic and exciting leaderboard for competing customers.

It’s no fun if the same players always win

If we wanted to ensure the tournament leaderboard is dynamic, we could look at creating variance in the leaderboard with simple structural methods, such as creating a multi-round/knockout tournament, or a more effective way could to be to weight favourable and/or more improbable events more profoundly in our scoring mechanism e.g. achieving your monthly step goal, hitting the jackpot on a slot machine, winning 200 pips on a Forex trade, being dealt pocket Aces in poker – all of which could be weighted in a scoring mechanism using CompetitionLabs’ adjustment factor functionality.

Another way we can promote a dynamic and unpredictable leaderboard and promote inclusiveness is to limit the duration of the tournament to leverage short-term volatility in events. For example, we might base a tournament on the outcome of just ten events, or run the tournament for only one hour. In either case, we are handicapping some players will win out when the volume required to win goes beyond a critical mass of events or time.

Show me the money

Of course, a crucial aspect of tournaments is in the rewards, i.e. the prizes we are offering for each position on the leaderboard. In general, we should be favouring a wide distribution of prizes to encourage competition throughout the breadth of the tournament leaderboard. However, it’s a fine line between paying out ‘flat’ and diluting the top-end prizes to the point where it not an attractive proposition for a competitor. It’s no good if the effort required to advance on the tournament leaderboard and achieve more significant prizes isn’t commensurate with the customer’s perceived (or real) time and money cost of attaining those advanced positions. Alternatively, if the next step on the leaderboard equates to £10 more in prize money, then the cost to the customer of achieving that next step shouldn’t exceed £10.

Lastly, and in the age of compliance that we live in, we must be cognizant of the regulatory and social responsibility aspects of our activity, particularly so with Tournaments, and we must be smarter in the way we go about achieving our objectives. Stay tuned for the next part where we will look at the next level of Gamification, and arguably the most powerful feature of CompetitionLabs’ toolkit – Achievements & Missions.

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