Buying a player’s time. Are we providing enough satisfaction?

Two men using mobile devices and laptop sitting on a bench
Two men using mobile devices and laptop sitting on a bench

This is a guest contribution by Matthias Ciappara a Gamification and Player Engagement Specialist and Consultant of XperiencePlay. If you would like to submit a contribution please contact Bill Beatty for submission details. Thank you.

Like the Rolling Stones (except for Keith) we have a fixed amount of time. Unlike the ageing Rock Gods we don’t have unlimited money to play with, so what’s the best use of our time and money?

With increasing acquisition costs and player retention feeling like a leaky bucket, does gaming offer enough satisfaction to compete in today’s market, to drive better growth and profitability?

How can we, as an industry, create a compelling experience that provides players with enough value to play our content? How do we compete against blockbuster films premiering on Netflix or the next generation of console games that offer their own cinematic masterpieces?

Our industry needs to adapt to make ourselves ready to compete with new forms of entertainment that appeals to younger and older demographics alike, to be able to provide the players that come to us what they want and when they want it.

Like Norah Jones, I invite you to come away with me, I promise I won’t kiss you on the mountain top!

*NEW Achievement! * – Hello, crazed dopamine monkey.

I want to introduce myself, or at least the little cheeky monkey in my brain. Nobody likes boredom; especially me! The monkey part of our brain loves shiny things!

Homer's trail of thought 10 minutes (Mose Mai Monkey)

We seek new ways to entertain ourselves, and what better way to pass the time than dopamine fueled bonanza of a Netflix binge on a Weekday night, or that video game marathon with friends on a warm, chilled out Sunday. The monkey is always searching for new, exciting and tantalising… ooh my latest post on Instagram got a hundred likes, fantastic! I better scroll up and down my ‘friends’ stories for a few minutes.

I replayed Witcher 3 this weekend, an absolute gem of a game, I managed to burn through most of my weekend. It may run like an old diesel truck, full of glitches, but it kept me hooked, like a teenage girl fangirling over the next Taylor swift…music or whatever you call that screeching noise?

I was immersed in the wonderful experience, the graphics, storyline, and a wide ecosystem complete with distractions, social interactions, and side quests. So many distractions I forgot to put the clothes in the dryer, creating an ‘interesting’ conversation with the Mrs. later that day.


All Aboard the Crazy Train, a new tournament is now starting! – The battle of the best dopamine.

“I’m going off the rails on a crazy train. Let’s go.”

The age of instant gratification. The Age of Speed.

The rise of mobile has drastically affected our lives. We are extremely impatient like children on a sugar rush. With everything at our fingertips, what compels us to spend time on oen dopamine trigger over another?

The surprising dangers of cell phone distractions: Distracted walking Worldwide, nearly 390,000 injuries are caused by drivers texting. Last week I was almost hit by a car when I decided to check my emails when crossing the road, not the best of ideas but it begs the question… why did the Matthias cross the road?

A group of people crossing the road using mobile phones

With endless entertainment possibilities in our pockets, the iGaming Industry aren’t just competing against other providers, we’re competing against all other sources of that dopamine hit.

  • In 2019, Netflix released 371 new movies and series, more than one per day. No matter your preference, beit Chess, Tigers or Queens, there is something for everyone. All totalled, it’s more content than any one person or chattering monkey could consume.

We absolutely love to imagine ourselves as be the next James bond, or robbing the bank of Spain like in Money heist, although I should hit the treadmill if I want to outrun the police.

  • Video Games! AAA titles and small indie developers are creating hundreds of games with ever-improving graphics realism, cinematic scope, and mechanisms. All in the pursuit of making the games more intense, more entertaining and feel like real-life. It’s a competition to provide more value for players entertainment bucks.

R&D costs of a Triple-A game can top $250M, delivering higher quality content to satisfy the needs of millions of players. The players seek value and control of their play and time. Cyberpunk2077 for example, sold 8 Million copies (retail $59.99 USD) in the first day, turning a profit just on release, which is exceptional.

  • Social media and other platforms also absolute time sinks. It’s a bit like the movie Inception, you open YouTube at 1 AM and find yourself watching cat videos and then start wondering if you need to lose part of your hair to make music as good as Hans Zimmer before learning whether a red hot steel ball can melt a hockey puck. With so many interesting questions, how will you ever get 8 hours of beauty sleep?

Social media’s motivating factor is how we present ourselves and our ‘story’ to the world. And how we compare to how others present their ‘story’. It gives people control to tell their story how they see fit.

  • I can create a story about me travelling around the globe with all sorts of beautiful scenery, even if I am stuck inside my room like a hamster, due to this godforsaken virus.
  • I can show myself in the most perfect of relationships, buying the best designer clothes and driving fast cars (in Malta this truly takes the cake), despite not have a cent to my name.

Social media allows us to be, who we want to be, or at least pretend to.

The above ‘entertainment’ industries thrive on one main factor

The narrative and the art of storytelling.

They create a story we can connect to and identify with. After watching Bohemian Rhapsody 3 times, we can believe we’re the next Freddie Mercury, even if it’s only in the shower.

New Challenge! – How does iGaming fit in this equation?

Sometimes it feels like punters can’t…get…no…satisfaction from the promotions and gimmicks but we try. Like Keith Richards looking for his next wife, the disinterested bettor will find someone younger and more attractive with bigger… offers?

No wonder we have so many bonus abusers, we always advertise ourselves as bigger and better and bigger. Like Pink Floyd, we have high hopes, but sometimes it seems like we all sell the same product. When everyone has the same product, players will look at how they can extract the maximum value out of sites, and welcome bonuses are a great enticing proposition to get more money.

Mama said, don’t give up, and it’s a little complicated”.

As an industry, we serve entertainment, and what we can learn from other sources of dopamine, is that joy is maximized with the immersion in the story. How can we achieve this?

One way is through Gamification and human interaction, how we can create a narrative that links different games to each other, one that creates a story that makes players connect with the games, symbols, anticipation, and beautiful artwork we invest in so much in creating. We need to make truly memorable content to satisfy our players’ needs.

I get bored – we all get bored – especially when what we need to do is essential to what we want to do, something fun. Like depositing funds, so I can get to do what I truly want, which is play the roulette!

We need to create experiences and journeys in which we lead players to the exciting bits, just a bit like skipping the recaps and intros when watching anything on Netflix. No one likes navigating complex mobile lobbies or trying to figure out how much more they need to wager to collect on their bonus.

Gamification allows us to control the narrative to create a human connection between our players and our product offering. If lead players from one action to another and keep players doing what they enjoy, playing our exciting content while gaining more exciting challenges, prizes, and more ways to win.

We have seen multiple success stories of great implementations of gamification elements. Swintt’s and Quickspins’ gamification suites, Casumo’s adventures come to mind along with a plethora of other tournament/achievement systems. All of which have had great success providing more entertainment to players. They truly immerse and engage our players, promoting better retention, and creating more value by giving them what they want. –satisfaction

Ask yourself, are we providing enough satisfaction?

About Matthias Ciappara:

Matthias Ciappara is a Gamification and Player Engagement Specialist and Consultant, focused on bringing new perspectives to bringing new innovative products and experiences in the iGaming industry across various markets and territories. He can be contacted at [email protected] or on skype at Matthias.ciappa

Website –