In publica commoda

Press release: Does using game elements in apps pay off?

No. 87 - 14.05.2019

Research team finds both positive and negative effects of gamification

Should companies add game elements to their apps? A team of researchers at the University of Göttingen has explored this question in a study published in the Journal of Business Research. Their finding: if features are integrated into apps that enable gameful experiences, customer loyalty can be strengthened. And that can be profitable for companies in turn. In certain cases, however, adding such elements can backfire.


In general, “gamification” means enriching products or services such as apps with game elements. For example, users can receive points or badges for achieving certain goals or climb up in leaderboards. In this way, serious activities such as sports or learning can be experienced in a more gameful way. The idea is to make work feel like fun. Thus, gamification can be an effective tool for boosting individuals’ motivation, productivity and desirable behaviours. A team led by Maik Hammerschmidt, Professor of Marketing and Innovation Management at the University of Göttingen, asked 511 users of gamified apps from the fields of education, organisation, fitness and nutrition about their perceptions of these apps and their future behavioural intentions regarding app usage.


"If people can use the game elements to develop their own skills or feel part of a group, they are more inclined to commit themselves to the app and may even pay for it," says Tobias Wolf, first author of the study. If users feel more competent through the use of apps, this also makes them more likely to recommend it. If, however, the social comparison with others takes centre stage, for example through rankings, motivation can quickly turn into social pressure. "It is important for companies to consider this consequence, which is known as the crowding-out effect, when deciding which and how many game elements to include in their apps," says Hammerschmidt. Companies that want to achieve added value for their customers and financial value for their own business must therefore carefully scrutinise which experiences they seek to evoke through gamification.


Original publication: Tobias Wolf, Welf H. Weiger, Maik Hammerschmidt. Experiences that matter? The motivational experiences and business outcomes of gamified services. Journal of Business Research (2019).



Maik Hammerschmidt

Professor of Marketing and Innovation Management

University of Göttingen

Faculty of Business and Economics

Platz der Göttinger Sieben 3, 37073 Göttingen

Phone: +49 (0)551 39-20061


Tobias Wolf

Phone: +49 (0)551 39-21868