A million years from now, assuming the Mayans were wrong and the Sun hasn’t exploded, our descendants are going to wonder how we ever managed to get anything done. “Look at all these badges and leaderboards,” they’ll say. “It’s like they all just played games for a living!” This is the over-dramatized, hyperbolic future that gamification has wrought.
Still, the race to become the company that assigns badges to accomplishments and transforms every milestone into an achievement continues. While users scramble to collect as many points and rewards as possible, gamification companies rake their hands to reach more people and raise more money. (None of the companies I have spoken with have confirmed that they hand out new badges and the CEO gets a new high score every time they raise capital, but I have my suspicions.)
Beintoo is the latest to fill its coffers, and has announced a $2 million investment from TLcom Capital, a London-based venture firm. The company, which has offices in Italy, New York, and Palo Alto, previously raised a $5 million Series A led by Innogest SGR in June. Unlike other gamification platforms, which gamify daily tasks for no particular reason beyond “people like games,” Beintoo provides real, tangible rewards for online achievements.
The company provides a platform that helps brands monetize by offering rewards to mobile game players that reach a certain milestone. These rewards are handed out in “Bedollars,” a proprietary currency that can be exchanged for further rewards once users have hoarded the requisite amount. A glance through the list of rewards shows a free month of Netflix combined with a $10 Papa John’s gift card, free trials for software, and discounts on gift cards from Gap, Groupon, and Zappos, to name a few.
Beintoo reminds me of Kiip, which raised $11 million in July, in that both companies combine in-game achievements with real-world rewards to change the way brands think about monetizing mobile platforms. Though I don’t necessarily agree that this model is sustainable for everyone, it’s hard to deny that getting a free month of Netflix for playing a game is better than having to see banner (or, worse, video) ads pop up in irritating places.
So, while I may not think that gamification is the future, it’s hard to argue with Beintoo’s results. The service has some 200 million users, and this latest investment will be used to drive that number up even higher. Since Beintoo rewards players for playing video games – every kid’s dream come true – that shouldn’t be too difficult.