How to Give Prizes as Monetary Rewards in Gamification

Some users will certainly be satisfied with recognition and privileges from your gamified systems, but others may hold out for more monetary rewards or other tangible benefits from gameplay activity. These benefits are typically monetary in nature, but could also involve free stuff, like prizes.

Perhaps the most obvious example of the use of prizes is McDonald’s Monopoly, based on the famous Hasbro board game of the same name. In this game, which the company has run every year since 1987, McDonald’s customers receive a game piece with the purchase of select menu items.

Some pieces are of the “instant win” variety, typically for a menu item such as French fries or a drink. Other game pieces correspond to a property space on a Monopoly board; by collecting them, players can win additional, awesome prizes. An online counterpart, introduced in 2005, enables layers to participate further by entering codes to roll a pair of virtual dice and move around an online Monopoly board.

Why has McDonald’s Monopoly been such a successful rewards play? Because customers quickly realize that if they do something, they get something — with a chance to win even more. That is, no matter what, you’re probably going to win some fries or a Coke, and you might win something big, like a vacation or a car or some significant Benjamins.

With the online gamification component, you could argue the promotion is even more successful; customers are incited to perform a valuable advanced gameplay behavior (that is, go to McDonald’s, purchase a select menu item, or visit the McDonald’s Monopoly website).

As evidenced by the McDonald’s Monopoly example, prizes can be literally anything, small or large, from a wee food item to a gigantor cash jackpot. But the easiest type of prize to give is whatever you have on hand — fries or a soda.

Although prizes generate buzz and excitement, offering them is expensive and may not result in lasting engagement or even positive feelings on the part of users. This is especially true if the prize is stuff rather than an experience.

Sometimes, monetary rewards can pollute the equation. This is particularly true for altruistic sites. Why? Because it can make people feel less charitable —which is a problem if your site centers on encouraging people to give.

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