The Ultimate Guide to SaaS Gamification

The word games spelled with cubes

Around 4,000 years ago the first game ever was played.

Since then the gaming industry became the most profitable entertainment industry in the world.

During all of this playtime, behavioral psychology became a thing at the beginning of the 20th century. It helped us understand why we act in certain ways and how to change our behavior.

However, it also made our behavior predictable and therefore exploitable.

You may wonder what this has to do with gamification and your business, but we are here to show you.

The crossing point between these two subjects is gamification.

Gamification uses game-like elements and behavioral psychology to influence users.

Gamification is one of the top trends in SaaS this year, dominating various industries. Because gamification increase user engagement, retention, and acquisition every SaaS startup needs it.

The global gamification market is predicted to reach $48.72 billion by 2029. This means if you implement it now your profit will skyrocket in the next four years.

However, gamification research shows that it is still overlooked.

This is why we created this ultimate SaaS gamification guide. It will help you understand gamification, give you tips on how to implement it, and provide examples of gamification you can look up to.

What is gamification?

Gamification is the application of game-like elements and game mechanics into non-game contexts.

Game elements like badges, scoreboards, or points make products more fun.

Gamified elements improve user experience and satisfaction. They engage users and encourage them to use the software actively. As they interact with the platform they get rewards, which makes them want to use the platform even more.

Rewarding users motivates them and brings a feeling of accomplishment and progress.

Types of gamification:

There are two main types of gamification that incorporate all the others across industries.

  1. Marketing and sales gamification: Gamified elements and gamification techniques are used for marketing campaigns to generate leads, and increase conversion and brand awareness.

    Illustration that shows a mobile phone and people

    A great example of this is Magnum Ice Cream. They launched a gamified campaign called "Pleasure Hunt". The goal was to find and collect "chocolates" across the Internet on different websites like YouTube. After finishing the game users could share their score with friends. This gamification strategy brought in 725 thousand new visitors to Magnum's site. Their URL became the most shared URL on Twitter.

  2. User experience gamification: Game mechanics and gamification elements can be used to improve user engagement, experience, and retention. Gamification techniques encourage users to take the desired action.

    Duolingo's mascot

    One of the best gamification examples for this is Duolingo. The language learning app rewards you if you interact with the platform every day and learn something. These rewards help you unlock new levels and you feel motivated to use the app daily. Gamification makes knowledge acquisition fun.

Benefits of SaaS gamification

  • Improving user retention

  • Higher engagement

  • Better customer satisfaction

  • Higher conversion rate

  • Increasing brand loyalty

  • Higher profit

  • Higher market value

  • Faster lead generation

  • Easier data collection

Who can benefit from gamification?

Almost all industries and businesses of different scales can benefit from gamification. This is exactly why big industry names gamify at least one part of their product.

If you are in social media think of Reddit.

If you are in EdTech think of Duolingo.

If you are in FinTech think of Robinhood Markets.

If you are in HR think of Salesforce.

If you are in fitness think of Nike's FuelBand.

If you are in SaaS think of Rewardly and learn how to implement gamification in your business with our case study or read a TL;DR story in this blog.

Why gamification works?

Gamification works because of behavioral psychology.

People's actions are motivated by certain needs, wants, and emotions. These factors influence our decision-making and the actions we take.

Sometimes, our behavior is not just a conscious choice but a conditioned response. It all boils down to basic human needs.

Self-determination theory

To make gamification strategies work for you, you need to understand what's the core of gamification and user behavior. Most people overlook this and don't use the full potential of gamification techniques. wants you to stand out on the market. So we'll explain...

When you look past engaging features, points, and mascots every segment of gamification comes from self-determination theory. You probably haven't heard of it before but it influences your behavior daily.

The theory claims that human behavior is driven by the need for three things:

  • competence

  • independence

  • connection

If these needs are met, we enjoy what we do more. We are also more likely to repeat these activities.

This is why gamification works.

When your solution fulfills these needs the user is not only motivated but conditioned by human nature to use your software again and again. It makes users integrate your product into their daily habits.

The whole science behind this is not always mentioned in the tech-oriented world.

This is why most people fail when implementing gamification.

We won't let you be one of them so read along to find out more.


The first need gamification meets is competence – that enjoyable sensation that we are growing and mastering our craft. This is possible thanks to the flow.

It is achieved when a game challenges the user enough so that it’s still interesting and makes them want to continue playing. The game can't be too hard so it’s not fun anymore or too easy that it becomes boring.


Our need for autonomy is met because we have full control over games and we voluntarily play them.

With gamification, users feel like they are not forced to do things but rather do things because they want to. They choose to use your platform and this choice seems conscious.

Also, because of intrinsic motivation, people play games for the sake of playing. If the experience they get on your platform is positive it will motivate them to come back to it. This can drive user engagement and influence user motivation.

When people feel like they are in control they feel free. Paradoxically, this leads to spending countless hours engaging with your app and your brand.


Lastly, the need for competition is met because users can compete with others in a way and in a world that’s different from real life. Naturally, they want to win and continue playing until they are number 1.

Healthy competition is the basis of human motivation. Motivating users is easy when they feel challenged to prove their skills.

Also, when users get rewards or level up they feel a sense of achievement and progress that they might lack in reality.

Social interaction through competition improves customer engagement because people crave connection.

How gamification works?

If this question is troubling you then look no further.

It's all about gamification components. Everything is based on them.

Gamification strategies and gamification techniques all revolve around these elements.

Once you know the main components you will be able to decide which are the right for you and implement gamification in your product.

Top 15 gamification elements


Different badges

Badges are rewards users unlock by completing tasks or achieving milestones.

They are visual motivators for users to engage with the platforms.

Users chase badges and once they get them they are motivated to get more. This is because badges provide a sense of accomplishment and progress.

They encourage users to use different features, participate in activities, and stay engaged.

Badges can also promote a sense of community and competition. This makes the platform more interactive and the user experience feels rewarding.

Because of this, badges are great for EdTech platforms or SaaS management tools like Rewardly.

Progress bar

Progress bar that shows Level 3, intermediate and points for user Esther Howard

A progress bar tracks the user's progress and achievements. It shows how close they are to completing a task or achieving a goal.

Progress bars provide feedback not just to admins but to users as well. When they can see how far they've come, they want to continue using the platform until they reach their objective.

Also, progress bars are great for tasks that involve multiple steps or processes, such as form completion, file uploads, or software installation. This makes the process faster and more enjoyable.

Because of this, they are great for HR platforms or onboarding and updating processes on any platform.


Different achievements

Achievements are goals and objectives users accomplish. They encourage them to explore and finish tasks so they stay longer on the platform.

Every achievement results in rewards that can be smaller or bigger. These rewards keep users focused and motivated to do more.

They improve user retention by offering ongoing challenges that make users engaged.

Achievement badges and tracking users' progress push users to interact with the platform more.

Because of this, all SaaS solutions should use them, especially in education to improve the learning process.

Unlockable elements

Ulocked levels and a locked level

Unlockable elements add excitement by giving users access to new features, content, or customization as they progress.

They encourage users to stay engaged, curious, and motivated to explore the platform.

Since these elements are usually hidden until unlocked users will not stop until they get them.

If something is mysterious or unknown we as humans feel the need to explore it. This is how they improve user engagement and satisfaction.

With unlockable elements, the user experience is more dynamic and enjoyable. This makes them great for EdTech platforms or social media apps.


Screen showing that the quiz is completed, number of points and a congratulations message

Coins or points are rewards players get for completing tasks or achieving goals.

They can be used to purchase items, unlock features, or showcase a player's progress.

Coins or points are small, virtual instant rewards. Because of them, users continue the same activities to win more.

They give immediate feedback to users and signal that what they are doing is good. This small virtual encouragement can motivate users a lot. Because of this, they are great for learning platforms or fitness apps for example.


Level and progress

Levels represent stages within the platform users can reach. They are used for progress tracking.

Users get through levels by completing tasks, earning points, or achieving specific objectives. Once they reach a certain level they are rewarded and the next level gets unlocked. This motivates them to use the platform even more.

Levels help them visualize their progress and objectives. They also serve as reference points for where they need to go.

Because of this levels are especially great for educational platforms to motivate users visually.


Robot part neon antenna and number of coins needed to buy it

The marketplace is a virtual store on the platform. Users can buy or exchange items, upgrades, or additional content using coins, points, rewards, real money, or crypto.

Marketplaces can motivate users to use the platform more because they need to collect rewards to get additional features.

They allow customization and personalization on an individual level. Users love to put a personal touch to things.

Because of this marketplaces are great for platforms with avatars, FinTech platforms, or learning apps amongst others.


5 coffee cups with headsets and props

Mascot is a visual representative of a platform. It is a character on the platform that is usually an animal or a robot (think of Duolingo again). They help users navigate the platform.

Mascots encourage users and motivate them. If they can be customized users feel attached to them. They see them as pets or even virtual friends.

If there is a marketplace for mascots users will try to win more points to be able to buy add-ons and change mascots to their liking.

This can encourage engagement and motivate users.

Because of this mascots are great for EdTech and MedTech platforms, social media apps, and HR platforms that help with onboarding processes.


Robot and it's parts with description

When we were choosing a mascot for Rewardly, we decided to go with a robot because our targeted audience like it the most. The robot mascot encourages players to complete tasks by rewarding them. These rewards are then used to customize the robot. This gives users a sense of control. They even compete with colleagues and that motivates them to work more.

If you want to learn more about Rewardly keep on reading.


Scoreboard with names and scores for 10 users

Scoreboards showcase user rankings or performance metrics. They promote friendly competition and motivate users to improve their work.

Scoreboards create a sense of achievement and recognition, encouraging users to get higher scores.

They can improve user engagement by introducing a competitive element to the user experience.

Educational platforms or platforms that track user activity or have a point system for example can benefit the most from this feature.


Leaderboard for 5 people with scores and badges

A leaderboard highlights the ranks of the best users based on their scores, achievements, or contributions.

It encourages healthy competition and creates a sense of community among users by highlighting top performers and inspiring others.

Leaderboards promote engagement and social interaction, motivating users to participate actively and get recognition.

They are great for all platforms that have scoreboards or a points system.


Different tasks listed

Tasks are actions users need to complete to win achievements and rewards.

They turn big goals into manageable steps.

Tasks enhance user productivity and efficiency by organizing activities and prioritizing actions, leading to a more structured and user-friendly experience.

Tasks can be implemented in most platforms, especially in any project management app, fitness, or productivity app.


Game with a wheel with rewards

Mini-games are games within the platform that aren't part of the main functionality.

They give users a break from routine tasks, stimulate cognitive skills, and offer rewards for participation.

Mini-games increase user retention by providing enjoyable interactions and additional value within the platform. They encourage users to return and continue using the platform.

They can be implemented in any industry. The less users expect to see a game on your platform the more they want to play it. This is because of the element of surprise.

Milestone celebration

Well done screen with a coffee cup mascot with headphones and confetti

When users reach milestones they get rewarded and the platform visually celebrates their success.

This can be in the form of confetti or balloons that show up, rewards, or some encouraging words of praise.

It is very important to celebrate users and their engagement. That makes them feel appreciated and encouraged to move forward.

This feature is great for educational platforms, fitness or social media apps, as well as tools used for task management.


Two screens showing Edit profile and Choose profile settings

Avatars are visual representations of users on the platforms.

They add personalization to the user experience making the platform more interesting to use.

Avatars allow users to express their personalities and add some customization to the platform. This improves user engagement and investment.

You can easily implement avatars in any platform that already has a user profile.


People remember stories written with Srabble letters

The narrative provides context, storyline, and purpose to user interactions and activities.

It engages users on a deeper level, creating a unique and interesting experience that goes beyond functionality. It gives other elements meaning.

A strong narrative improves user engagement, motivates users, and gives a sense of continuity and progression. It can also make users emotionally invested so they use your platform more.

How to incorporate gamification elements in a SaaS solution?

Laptop showing the first page of Rewardly

We know that this is all great in theory but you might feel overwhelmed or not so sure what to do next.

Don't worry... will show you!

To explain the gamification process we will use one of our projects, a platform called Rewardly.

Rewardly is a gamified task management tool used by companies to improve productivity. It tracks employee progress and rewards them as they complete their tasks. It improves user engagement and motivation.

We developed Rewardly for a client that wanted to increase profit by motivating employees.

so without further ado...

Let's start

Every gamification process can be divided into three categories:

  • implementation

  • development

  • design

When you break down gamification into these categories you can see what steps you need to take and how to think to make gamification work for your platform.

Implementation of gamification

When our client reached out to us we first took time to understand their targeted audience a.k.a. employees. This should always be your first step, especially when it comes to gamification.

Understanding users and their needs, preferences, and pain points was our top priority.

We always think of the end users as our main clients. You should too.

It's not important how much you like the platform if your users don't.

This is why we conduct a lot of research!

Based on research we create User Personas. They represent ICPs (Ideal Client Profiles) that describe who your users are and what they need and expect from your platform.

After that, we create a User Flow that represents individual actions users take on your platform and how they add up to the overall experience.

We also create a User Journey map to illustrate the entire experience and identify key touchpoints.

All of this helps us and our client understand how the platform works and where gamification can be used in the process. This is how we defined the implementation process.

For Rewardly this meant that the task-tracking process should be gamified with:

  • points

  • scoreboard

  • leaderboard

  • mini-games

  • progress bar

  • mascot

  • achievements

Laptop showing user's profile and statistics from Rewardly

Rewardly also offers tangible rewards that motivate users even more.

Now you know where to start from.

Development behind gamification

Don't be afraid of this phase. Even if you are not an engineer you can always hire an agency, like, to do this work for you (and teach you more about it along the way).

The most important thing to keep in mind in this phase is strong architecture. It ensures that your platform will be stable and secure. It is all you need to know and think about, even if you are a non-tech founder.

With Rewardly, we made sure that the platform was responsive, intuitive, and scalable to improve user engagement and user satisfaction. For this, we used ReactJS, NestJS, and PostgreSQL databases.

Monitoring progress is the main objective so we used web sockets for real-time updates. We also focused on developing a reliable in-app notification system that uses an event bus mechanism for relevant and timely notifications. This keeps users informed and engaged and makes the entire process transparent.

The mini-games that make the app so attractive to users we developed on our own from scratch. That's what sets Rewardly apart from similar task management tools.

Don't worry if these terms or concepts are new to you (they were once for all of us) but you can show this article to your development team and it will help them for sure.

If you want to work with an experienced team with a customized approach be sure to contact us.

Gamification design

Rewardly's task screen

The last part of the gamification experience is design. It brings everything together visually.

Design influences how users perceive the platform. Always have that in mind.

That's why Rewardly's design made the whole platform resemble a game. Gamified UI kept things looking professional but still engaging and fun for employees.

Design elements like colors or fonts were chosen because of their psychological influence on users.

For example, we used orange, green, and blue to trigger specific emotions like excitement or satisfaction.

This ensures that every part of the platform motivates users and keeps them engaged. Try to discuss this with your designer.

The design shouldn't be only engaging but also functional. We made sure that everything was transparent and straightforward.

You can do it

If our work on Rewardly and other projects taught anything it's that we can do everything we set our minds to.

And so can YOU!

We hope Rewardly's story inspired you and gave you practical insights and tips on how to implement gamification.

For a more customized and detailed approach reach out to us and we'll be glad to help.


Game over written on a screen

Implementing gamification is one of the best ways to improve your SaaS platform.

You can improve user engagement and user retention by using game-like features such as points, badges, leaderboards, and challenges.

Gamification also improves user satisfaction and loyalty.

Adding gamification elements to an existing platform can breathe new life into the user experience, transforming boring tasks into enjoyable interactions.

Users who find your platform engaging and rewarding are more likely to return. They will even recommend your platform on their own.

This organic growth from positive user experiences can improve your platform's success in a competitive market.

Don't know where to start?

If you are feeling lost and don't know what to do with this info – we got you!

Gamification doesn't have to be complicated. You don't have to know it all. That's what is here for.

If you want to:

  • gamify your mobile apps or web platforms

  • implement a SaaS gamification strategy

  • be the first on the leaderboard of your industry

  • use technologies like AI or blockchain with gamified elements

  • outsource gamification services can help you with all of this and more.

As a software engineering agency focused on products we use development skills, sales insights, and marketing knowledge to help you create the best SaaS solution for you and your audience.

With expertise in different industries and a wide network of consultants, we know how to help you get ahead in your field.

Gamify today

A neon sign that says: This is the sign you've been looking for

Don't be boring when you can be fun.

Reach out to our team and in 6 hours your SaaS can be transformed with gamification.

If you want to win the market game contact us and consider it done!