Are Points and Badges Dead in Gamification?

I suppose an alternative title to this could be “Should Points and Badges Be Dead in Gamification

When you look at gamification, you will see two main streams of thought on the use of points and badges in gamification.

The first and probably most prevalent is that the simple addition of points and badges to a problem will make it more engaging and fun. The second is that points and badges have no place in “good” gamification.

I have sat on both sides of the fence over the last few years and have come to the conclusion that the answer lies somewhere in the middle.


Adding points and badges (and leaderboards etc) to a problem with no strategy, is not the way to get a good result with gamification. That is an undeniable truth. However, if you only need a very short term engagement, they can work, but there are better and more enjoyable ways to achieve short (and long) term engagement.

The same can be said of most gamification related elements though. Just throwing a narrative or a clever mechanic with no strategy, will not give you great results. I wrote a long time ago about GaaS – Gamification as a Strategy!


Plan out what it is you are trying to achieve and then build a solution that best fits that need. Guess what? Points and badges can be part of that solution and that strategy if they are well planed and used well.

Using them as part of a player onboarding phase can have great outcomes. Each point and badge can be seen as pats on the back, nudges to show the user that they are doing the right thing, learning, improving and headed in the right direction. Once they are at a stage where they are no longer in need of little nudges, stop giving them. The points and badges can ease off, or change their intended purpose. Maybe they become part of an overall virtual economy within the system – for instance.

Are They Dead?

Of course, points and badges are not dead. They still form the core of much gamification. The solutions that are going to succeed are the ones that get their use right and don’t rely on them (or any single element or concept) for long term success!

Is the use of points and badges gamification? Of course, it is! Don’t be afraid of them, just use them correctly and with care 🙂

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3 thoughts on “Are Points and Badges Dead in Gamification?”

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  2. Good discussion! 🙂

    I mentioned some time ago in my writings that points (and we can say that badges too) are just a mean to represent some sort of progress: skill learning, task completion, etc. They are not the elements that afford the engaging experience by themselves. The engagement comes from visualizing the progress, and points and badges are just the representation of this progress.

    So, of course, points and badges should be used in gamification, but as a tool to represent progress as part of a larger design. Just by themselves, without representing some meaningful progress, their potential will be limited.


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