Gamification can enhance online learning—whether synchronous or asynchronous—in a lot of ways beyond supporting better engagement and longer-lasting outcomes. You and your design team can develop your own gamification software. You can also purchase off-the-shelf (OTS) products. Designing your own software can be time-consuming, so in this article I will focus on finding ready-to-use products that fit your needs. It's all about segmentation.

Why is it a challenge to find the right OTS gamification products?

It’s not just the number of OTS products to consider, it’s the diversity of categories and features. Here are the basic relevant usage categories addressed in software review sites:

  • General-purpose gamification software
  • Customer loyalty software
  • Training software
  • Onboarding software

That doesn’t look like it would be too difficult to come up with a search strategy, until you add the feature sets that you might need. Which of these features are on your must-have list?

  • Do you need customizable gamification solutions to enhance your marketing campaigns?
  • Do you need to track or allow the input of certain behaviors?
  • Do you need to award points or badges?
  • Do you need analytics to track behaviors and users?
  • Do you want a public leaderboard, or do you need a private leaderboard?

That's only the beginning of the analysis needed to make the right choice.

Are there selection criteria that a gamification product must satisfy?

Your selection must cover all of the needs required for a successful match to your use case.

  • How many product reviews do you need to consider?
  • What minimum level of user satisfaction ratings do you require?
  • How will you decide whether the product is relevant to your requirements?
  • How will you measure and evaluate what users said about the value for money of OTS products?
  • If you can talk to users of the products that interest you, did they say they would buy the products again? Were their expectations met? Did the vendor make good on any promises about adjusting the feature set?
  • How well does the vendor support the product?
  • Will you need to pay for additional product(s) from the vendor in order to use the product?

Are there other considerations that you must take into account?

There are always other things to think about:

  • What kinds of organizations use the products that are on your “short list?” (HR, sales teams, help desk or call center, retail, enterprises, government organizations, small businesses.) Do those organizations have use cases similar to yours?
  • Does the application need to support mobile use, teams, or integration with social media?

Where do you find trustworthy information?

The obvious ways are talking to users of the various applications and sales staff. Fortunately, you can also get more complete information easily from software review sites. Here are four reliable, unbiased sites with good coverage of gamification apps and features.