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Hackernoon logoSaaS, it's time we learn from the Gaming Industry by@iamnaveenj

SaaS, it's time we learn from the Gaming Industry

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@iamnaveenjNaveen Kumar J

Product Manager, Freshworks Marketing Cloud

This is what my friend Sanjeev asked me yesterday:

"Did you ever have someone schedule a demo with you to teach you how to play a game?"

No, I said, of course not.

No one ever has, even though I buy a bunch of them, and ask ridiculous questions on obscure game-forums all the time.

Does that deter you from figuring it out yourself, he pressed?

No, I said again, why would it? I can play the game and figure it out, right?

And as I said that, I realized what he was trying to explain to me.

Millions of games are sold around the world every year and not even a single game studio has a pre-sales team for their customers.

I'll say again, millions of games are sold around the world every year.

We sell software too, don't we, in SaaS? Why do we have to always rely on pre-sales teams, product consultants, and so on?

That's the first time I realized the impact Gamification could have on the SaaS industry, something that now seems so obvious to me I'm mortified I did not see it earlier.

Back to the games: These top-selling titles vary in platform, style, gameplay, complexity, and still have something unique to offer to gamers, enough for them to invest time and money to master and enjoy it.

Gamers figure how to play in minutes, and when they are struggling to find a treasure or solve a puzzle, it's because the game developers wanted it.

Unlike SaaS, where we try to make it easy, but somehow it becomes complex.

By now you'd have figured out that the answer to this primarily lies in User Interface and Intuitiveness of the games. But the real answer also lies in the approach.

So how do we apply this in SaaS? We have to, right?

Like the gaming industry, I'm gonna draw parallels for 5 concepts and let you imagine the rest

Developing the solution

Shigeru Miyamoto is one of the greatest game designers of our time. He's the game director at Nintendo, and the creator of the beloved Mario. He says that the most crucial rule in gaming is to create a game that anyone can play.

In the SaaS industry, when we develop a product a lot of times, we get carried away assuming that customers know things: We put an age frame, company size, and whatnot. But what we don't do is educate them within the product based on their expertise level.

P.S When angry birds was released it's most users were aged between 35-44-years


If you think users can discover your product features in 'n' possible ways but games have an unfair advantage because the outcomes are linear, then you're mistaken.

Let me introduce the concept called "Open World Games"

For people who are new to this, the open-world is the concept where there are main missions and side missions, no matter where gamers divert, they always have something new to do, and have the ability to make a choice to continue further or retry.

Even if your user goes on a detour away from your on-boarding, let them have some fun learning something new, and you can bring them back to the product later.

When you build a feature for your product, you always know what created the problem and the solution you offer. Make sure your users also get it.

Ease of use

Neil Druckmann, the new generation storyteller and director of the famous Uncharted 4, says their game objective is simple stories and complex characters.

Whether the customer's problem is easy, tough, or complex, make sure the solution offered by your product is always simple.

Take the example of Salesforce, which needs an engineer to configure its product. They can get away doing so because they are Salesforce. You can't.

If you are designing a tool for the sales team, then make sure they can run it on their own without outside help.

Returning users

Games like Fortnite, Apex Legends, PUBG, Minecraft, etc. have millions of gamers who return to the same game every single night, and most of them won't even excel at it. But why?

The answer is making your user feel accomplished

When a gamer makes progress the game always has something to offer them. It can be a weapon, a score, a trophy that they can add to their profile, and so on.

Everyone loves a little recognition, and it goes a long way.

Why can't your product do the same? When your user clocks a certain number of hours or do something which is rare, give them a badge or a certificate which they can use on their LinkedIn profile, or their product profile.

Make it unpredictable

You never know what's next in a good game.

Story narratives are extraordinary in games like The Last Of Us. Millions of gamers have been waiting for more than six years for its next game to arrive just to discover what's in store.

That's how your features should be.

When you offer a solution, make sure it's what the customer wants, but the solution you offer should be unpredicted and mind-blowing for them that they can't get over. They should go talk about it.

That's exactly what your features should be.

In the end, games are just programs too; complex worlds, but they are also just software. Which is why if you apply gamification to your product, you can eliminate friction and accelerate adoption like never before.

All the best!

I hope these parallels made sense if you think they don't or wanna add to this, please provide your comments below.

I'd want to thank Sanjeev for introducing me to the concept of gamification and my content guru Sairam for helping me with the edits.

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