In our Flashback series, we’re looking at posts from years past to see how right – or wrong – we were with our predictions. Today, we take on – gamification!

Back in 2010, we wondered, “Can Games Help Your 2010 Strategy?” At the time, we said, games can be “fun, captivating way[s] to provide disease management tips and education, promote brand awareness, encourage therapy compliance, and more.”

Are games still all they’re cracked up to be?

Last summer, Pokémon Go proved that gamification can truly work to improve markers of health — even unintentionally — as the augmented reality app had millions of users of all ages upping their activity levels.

Though it’s unlikely that most gamification efforts will reach Pokemon Go-level success, gamification is still popular. Indeed, it’s become a pharma buzzword in the years since we first wrote about it. Yet the mere mention of the word can make a marketer cringe; that’s because “gamifying” has become a goal, rather than a strategy, as it should be for marketers. Pharma marketers in particular must remember that gamification serves a greater purpose, whether that be patient, physician or sales rep education or awareness, medication adherence, or simply brand engagement.

We also argued that gamification could reach a wide audience.

Back in 2010, we said you might be surprised to learn who was “gaming” at the time. According to a 2006 eHealth Marketing study, 44% of game players were between the ages of 18-49, and 38% were female. The demographics of gamers have broadened, particularly as mobile apps saturate the market and gain popularity. Today, “48% of gamers are female… [and] more gamers are over the age of 50 than under 18,” according to popular game site Big Fish Games.

But how can pharma make gamification magic?

Many health apps, from activity trackers to food diaries, from symptom journals to educational quizzes, hope for success like Pokémon Go saw, “gamifying” their experience with awards and competitive elements. But gamification is more than adding ribbons, tokens and prizes. Done correctly, gamification is about approaching the whole problem differently.

Behavioral scientists have mapped out humans’ basic fundamental motivations, or core drives, in order to figure out how to build experiences that engage and motivate users. For more on this, check out our free POV, Predictable Irrationality: Behavioral Science in Pharma.

In 2010, we believed gamification could help you connect with your target audience and achieve your messaging goals. It’s 2017, and we stand by that idea.

Gamifcation has become more common today, and we’ve become more knowledgeable. We’ve invested many of our clients’ projects with our understanding, as well as our own internal work, since we developed one of our first games for a client back in 2009 — a mystery game for Teva Neuroscience and MSWorld called “The Case of the Missing Matches.” This cognitive challenge exercised players’ memory skills and provided tips on living better with multiple sclerosis.

Seven years later, we know so much more about how games can be fun and relevant, achieve your messaging goals, and benefit your brand — we believe gamification is more important than ever. If you’re interested in finding out whether gamification could work for your brand, contact your account lead or reach out to us at

Check out these posts for more on gamification: