Sunday 18 November 2012

Curiosity = Loyalty3

cu·ri·os·i·ty - noun
1. A strong desire to know or learn something.
2. A strange or unusual object or fact
3. An app that has hooked over 500k people

That last point is strongly linked to points 1 & 2 and also provides some interesting lessons for loyalty programme design.

In case you missed it, Curiosity is a new iOS and Android app in which people slowly destroy layers of a huge cube with the mission to reveal what's inside.  It's like a multi-player pass the parcel in which there can only be one winner.
Curiosity sml

The cube is apparently made up of 64 billion tiny blocks which users have to destroy one block at a time until a single layer is completely removed and then they begin on the next layer.

Thats it - In terms of gameplay, it could be argued that it's a little lacking.

However, if thats all you got from it - a Zen like feeling from destroying blocks and making patterns in them - then I can't imagine it would be anywhere near as popular as it is.  Instead, the game locks onto some powerful gaming mechanics employed by more complex ecosystems like Farmville to provide a rewarding and addictive experience.

These can be summarised as:-
  • Social - Everyone taking part - like a shared experience.  Connect it with your Facebook account and you can see how your friends are doing.
  • Reward - There is something to aim for even though no one knows what that something is.
  • Gamified - There is skill involved and you can "level up" to get a perceived advantage.  Destroying more blocks earns coins and these in turn can be traded for tools to destroy even more blocks.
It's these 3 points combined that make Curiosity both an interesting take of gameplay as well as a great model for Social Loyalty.

People will download and play with the app for different reasons, either because they've heard about it and are curious (social element) or are intrigued by the possibility of the final prize (reward).

Whichever path brings them into the app, both then play a part in retaining them.

The "gamified" element though is also very important in keeping people playing - essentially keeping them loyal.  Users will very quickly tire of simply destroying blocks one at a time.  Instead, by recognising their activity and rewarding this with coins that in turn can be used to purchase tools to increase their activity, Curiosity is looking to maintain "flow" in the gameplay.  Keeping users somewhere between boredom and anxiety.

This is enhanced further, as these additional tools give users an advantage over others, something expressed within the social element by being able to compare your stats to friends.  Solo gameplay is rarely as rewarding as that played against others.

Just using these 3 simple mechanics, Curiosity shows us in a stripped back, minimalist way how to engage and harness peoples attention.  There's no fields to plough, crops to plant or farms to build - it's as basic as it gets, and yet it still works.

The lesson for us in loyalty is that it's not about how complex your programme is or how many rewards it has - it's all about the design and how this too can engage and harness the customers attention.

Many loyalty programmes today are one dimensional - simply using rewards as the mechanic to drive people forward.  Increasingly though Social Loyalty programmes look to harness the power of social currency as expressed and magnified through a gamified experience to add depth to the programme and turn into into a more rounded, 3-dimensional experience.

It's Loyalty3.