Gamification and social gaming are emerging trends that allow organizations to go beyond engagement to stimulate deep audience participation. It’s a significant trend that’s sweeping across the Americas as savvy developers, brand leaders and future-focused startups (especially in Argentina), see social engagement as a smart way to generate tight bonds between supplier and consumer.
Gamification is about motivation. It is expected to be one of the most important business trends of the next decade, as the first generation raised entirely with video games and internet enters the workforce. Latin America – as you’ll see – has a key role to play.
Gamification is the movement to use game techniques, like rewards, to make activities such as new product development, marketing and training more fun to improve participation; examples include airline loyalty programs and earning discounts for check.
Also referred to as Web 3.0 and Enterprise 2.0, industry analyst Gartner predicts, “more than 50 percent of organizations that manage innovation processes will gamify those processes. By 2014, a gamified service for consumer goods marketing and customer retention will become as important as Facebook, eBay or Amazon, and more than 70 percent of Global 2000 organizations will have at least one gamified application.”
The Spanish speaking population of the U.S. is growing and U.S. firms are increasingly targeting Spanish speaking global markets. These companies are finding it increasingly important to develop content for the audience and engage Latin American firms to develop the games. Developing content is not just about language and currency localization. The content must be culturally relevant and take into account issues specific to the country such as payment mechanisms. Countries like Mexico, Argentina and Brazil have less than one card circulating per person according to the International Trade Administration. If companies sell items in the game, they should provide alternatives credit cards.
Gamification can be important for brand management; however, it can also be profitable. According to a recent report from digital goods tracking firm SuperData Research, the virtual goods market in Latin America is $336 million and expected to nearly double to $624 million by 2014. Organizations like Mexico-based Busca Corp, founded in 2006, have emerged to offer services. Busca Corp focuses on the Latin America and the U.S. Hispanic markets with sites popular with Spanish speaking audiences like levelUp and Deporte that get millions of page views each week.
The Facebook Spanish speaking market is large – over 80 million users – and not something organizations can afford to ignore if they want to remain competitive.
Argentinean-based Mindsetstudio has developed games for companies like MTV, Cartoon Network and FOX. Mentez, with locations in Miami, San Paulo and Bogotá, partners with gaming giant Zynga to serve an Latin American audience. The company develops social games and social marketing applications with gaming influence for clients. According the company, their games reach 22 million active users per week , which is something many U.S. gaming and social marketing firms cannot claim. Mentez recently introduced a new game, Guerra Maya, on Facebook. It is a Farmville style game, but squarely targeted at Spanish-language Facebook users. The Facebook Spanish speaking market is large – over 80 million users – and not something organizations can afford to ignore if they want to remain competitive. The company will soon be opening offices in Mexico and has a presence in Argentina and Chile.
U.S.-based gaming companies are realizing that it is important to establish a Latin-American presence to better serve the market. Playdom has offices in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The companies users have logged of 20,000 years of game play in just one of the company’s fifteen games. Brand messaging, educational assets or products can be deeply embedded in these games providing enterprises an invaluable tool for presenting their message.
Latin American firms aren’t just building and playing games; they are actually leveraging to optimize employee performance. Cesar D’Onofrio, Co-Chief Executive Officer of CommonSense said his company was in process of using applying gamification internally, “in employee empowerment by choosing some “awards” for the employees when they achieve some effort/results in a pre-scheduled time, by adding or resting points according to their performance.” D’Onofrio said that while they would likely be building gamified application for clients, he saw its power for his own organization.
As gamification and social gaming become more common fixtures, Latin America will be playing a role across all dimensions of the movement.