Understanding the (Negative and Positive) Effects of Gamification for Companies

René Eppmann, Magdalena Bekk, Kristina Klein, and Franziska Völckner, 2020, 20-114

Many brands are using gamification to engage customers, but not much is known about when and how gamification influences important marketing outcomes.

Here, René Eppmann, Magdalena Bekk, Kristina Klein, and Franziska Völckner shed light on the positive and negative effects of gamification. In three experimental studies, they show that gamification initiates two opposing processes: It reduces consumers’ attention towards product information and, subsequently, consumers’ processing effort (negative). At the same time, it increases consumers’ perceived enjoyment (positive).

These effects do not occur for specific outcomes in the same way though. For example, for consumers’ purchase intentions, gamification is neutral because the negative process (reduced product attention) and the positive process (increased enjoyment) cancel each other out.  For consumers’ product-information recognition, on the other hand, the effect is wholly negative.  In addition, and independent of the specific outcome, high-trust brands are more strongly affected by reduced attention to product information than low-trust brands.

Put into Practice

Contrary to common expectations, gamification does not always help marketers achieve their desired outcomes.

If the aim is to increase product information recognition, for example, marketers should abstain from using gamification. Also, managers of highly trusted brands should exercise caution in using gamification in their marketing activities.

Nevertheless, managers might aim to take advantage of gamification’s positive effects on other outcome variables, such as consumer engagement or brand patronage intention. In such cases, they should consider explicitly informing their consumers about a potential distraction from product information, as such disclosure reduces gamification’s negative effect. 



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