January 19, 2023

How does Gamification function in the Corporate Context? - Gamification Part II

In this second part, we look at the Octalysis Gamification Framework in practice in a corporate context. Here we look at the case studies of eBay and Navo Orbico (Procter & Gamble).


Welcome to the second part of our article on gamification. In the first part, we explained the basics with the help of the "Octalysis Framework" by Yu-Kai Chou. In the second part, we look at this framework as it is applied in practice in a business context. To do this, we look at two case studies that were also conducted by the Octalysis Group (OG). The key difference between the two studies is how apparent gamification is presented to users.

In the language of the Octalysis framework, this refers to "Implicit vs. Explicit Gamification". At the beginning, the client is often asked how much the use of gamification in a project should be noticeable to the users. Meaning, "how much should it feel like a real game?" The OG presents a virtual slider for this, ranging from "Clean/Efficient" to "Playful/Magical". This decision is therefore decisive for the realisation and implementation of the game design.


(Fig 1: Implicit vs Explicit Gamification, Octalysis Group)

In this article, we look at two studies that lie at opposite ends of this scale: eBay, one of the most successful gamified e-commerce platforms in the world, on the "conservative" left vs. Navo Orbico (part of Procter & Gamble) on the "playful" right. As we already learned in the last article, successful gamification concepts are characterised by the implementation of a number of or even all "core drives".

eBay Gamification

eBay is not only one of the most successful e-commerce platforms in the world, but also the first online marketplace to incorporate gamification elements on its platform.  The company realised that finding niche products was a real competitive advantage and made it its unique selling proposition. 

In fact, the story is almost legendary.  The eBay founder Pierre Omidyar offered a defective laser pointer for sale as his first product (this was supposed to be a test) and was surprised that there was actually someone who wanted to buy it. He wrote to the interested party specifically to check that he had recognised the laser pointer's non-functional state. In fact, the highest bidder was aware of it. And as it turned out, he was a collector of broken laser pointers – and thus eBay was born.

Back to gamification: one problem that eBay later encountered was that many bidders selling on eBay had no sales and marketing background. This had a negative impact on the buying experience of the users and also in declining membership numbers.

Introducing the Seller Dashboard

To counteract this, the quality of the service provided by the sellers had to be improved. To do this, the OG has developed a new engaging dashboard for them.

This new seller dashboard provides sellers with actionable insights into their performance and helps them assess where they stand in comparison to the competition through a tiers ranking system.

Positive reviews are crucial for sellers to both maintain their reputation and increase their sales (Core Drive 4: Ownership and Possession). Reinforcing Core Drive 5: Social Influence and Relatedness further encourages sellers to spend more time improving their quality of service to their customers. The dashboard promotes this awareness and motivation by providing information on buyer feedback, ratings and other transaction-related data.

Core Drive 3: Empowerment of Creativity also comes into play. The immediate and insightful feedback provided by the dashboard gives sellers the opportunity to discover, test and apply marketing and sales strategies to again improve the relationship between them and the buyer. In return for high quality service, sellers move up in the ranking system, gaining a sense of recognition and status (Core Drive 2: Development and Accomplishment) and receiving better awards and boosters* to further improve their selling experience.

Through this interactive experience, eBay has been able to significantly improve its poor buying experience and increase satisfaction for customers. 

eBay opted for a more conservative implementation of gamification ... but what if it can expand into full-scale design and gameplay?

Navo Orbico Gamification

Nava Orbico is the largest FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods) distributor in Eastern Europe. The organisation is part of the Procter & Gamble empire and accordingly widely represented in a total of 19 countries in Europe. The company has over 5500 employees and more than 500 brands are represented.

The Mission

Through a previous collaboration with Procter & Gamble, the Octalysis Group was asked if it was possible to turn sales into an "exciting, fun and at the same time profitable" activity. The group accepted the challenge. At the same time, Navo Orbico wanted to participate in the Gamification Europe Award, which significantly pushed the decision towards "Explicit Gamification". 

The Challenge

The big problem in sales is burnout, caused by severe stress. Accordingly, there are high churn rates of sales specialists and managers here. So the question is, how can the sales team be permanently and sustainably motivated to sell products and services without "burning out" the employees?

(Fig 2: Navo Orbico Case Study, Sales Burnout Causes, Octalysis Group)

Status Quo Sales

So let's look at sales at Navo Orbico through the eyes of the Octalysis Framework.

In general, sales is strongly extrinsically motivated (we remember - "things you do for a reward, purpose or goal, even if you don't necessarily value that activity"). In addition, the focus is purely on sales quota (CD 8 Loss & Avoidance) and there is strong and ruthless competition (CD 6 Scarcity & Impatience), so we are in the realm of Black Hat gamification design for both.

There is also little autonomy, as salespeople often follow a sales script or a so-called SOP (Standard Operating Procedure). This means that there is a lack of CD3 Empowerment of Creativity & Feedback. The community is also missing due to competition - hence no representation of CD 5 Social Influence & Relatedness. Instead of friends and allies, all others are perceived as opponents.

Another problem in the sales process at Navo Orbico was the lack of direct feedback on sales. Retail shop managers have to initiate orders themselves on their computers after a sales call, so the sales people only know at a later stage whether and to what extent a sale was successful.

And lastly, sales also completely lack CD 1 Epic Meaning & Calling, so there is no higher meaning and purpose, as it is exclusively about the sales quota and only banal products of daily life are sold.

The combination of extrinsic motivation and black hat design causes sales to stagnate and eventually leads to churn via burnout.

(Fig 3: Navo Orbico Case Study, Octalysis Implementation, Octalysis Group)

The Solution

The outcome of the Octalysis design process initially highlighted a number of requirements that needed to be addressed.

Firstly, for a seamless experience, the solution needed to be fully integrated with Navo Orbico's sales workflow and CRM. There is a high risk of rejection with a separate solution with additional login, as this would create additional friction for the users. To enable CD 3 Empowerment of Creativity & Feedback, autonomous decisions for sales approaches are still enabled to give the sales team room for creative decisions.

By setting up mentors and coaches who help other team members and are rewarded for this as an incentive, the group dynamic is to be improved and joint tasks (group quests) created. This part has a positive impact on CD 5 Social Influence & Relatedness. Overall, an environment should be created that encourages exploration, experimentation and learning in a motivating way.

The Implementation - "Masters of the Endless Sea”

The game begins. Everyone on the sales team received an email from management with the subject "Masters of the Endless Sea". The content revealed the following: "You have a piece of code that a randomly selected colleague needs. Only together can they get each other's code to run."

(Fig 4: Navo Orbico Case Study, The Masters of the Endless Sea, Octalysis Group)

This triggered CD 2 Development & Accomplishment and CD 7 Unpredictability & Curiosity, and of course CD 5 with the first small group task. Together, a virtual chest could be opened with the code, which ultimately unlocked the game and the experience of The Masters of the Endless Sea. This introduced the players to the world of 18th century merchants who travel the oceans to trade and improve their business.

(Fig 5: Navo Orbico Case Study, The Masters of the Endless Sea, Octalysis Group)
(Fig 6: Navo Orbico Case Study, The Masters of the Endless Sea, Octalysis Group)

The story is told, the stage is set. Let's now take a look at the essential elements of the game and what purpose they serve.

Experience vs. Health Points (XP vs. HP)

Sales are of course at the top of the list of KPIs that gamification tries to improve. The game reflects reality here. High activity increases Experience Points, while low or no activity decreases Health Points. As the saying goes, you snooze, you lose. This also applies to The Masters of the Endless Sea. Because only those who are active and strive can learn and develop. If sales are successful, the players receive gold coins – an incentive just like in reality.

(Fig 7: Navo Orbico Case Study, The Masters of the Endless Sea, Octalysis Group)

The hometown

The players start in a little-developed village, which can be developed into a flourishing town with the help of the gold coins earned. This triggers CD 1,5 and 8. CD 1 Epic Meaning & Calling as a fictional purpose to build this town while increasing the fun factor. In doing so, this is another community task / Group Quest measured by the "City Health" and "City Wealth" attributes. In other words, this is where the team works together. If the team's sales figures increase, this has a positive effect on the City Wealth factor and the city expands further. If the numbers fall, the effect is regressive and reduces City Health - a classic case for CD 8 Loss & Avoidance. Thus, the performance of the group is mapped very visually and thus motivates team play. 

(Fig 8: Navo Orbico Case Study, The Masters of the Endless Sea, Octalysis Group)

The Merchant Ship

To counteract the challenge of delayed feedback, there is the option here to upgrade your trading ship to get feedback faster. Players start with a small boat that receives feedback from the system once a day. The faster this boat is upgraded to a ship, the sooner feedback information can be drawn from the system (provided new information is available at the time). At the same time, the boat is also a very visual representation of success and desirable for the sales professionals in the top positions.

(Fig 9: Navo Orbico Case Study, The Masters of the Endless Sea, Octalysis Group)


Naturally, a classic ranking cannot be absent, especially when it comes to a trading game. Here, both the individual ranking and the group tasks are displayed and promote CD 2, 5 and 6.

(Fig 10: Navo Orbico Case Study, The Masters of the Endless Sea, Octalysis Group)

The Tavern

Not only in the 18th century was the tavern a place for socialising. The ideal place to stay in contact with the team and to exchange ideas (CD 5 and 3). Training missions and challenges could also be found here.

(Fig 11: Navo Orbico Case Study, The Masters of the Endless Sea, Octalysis Group)

Management Portal

Furthermore, the management portal for the top management was also located here, enabling them to conveniently access all information, news, progress and results in concentrated form.

(Fig 12: Navo Orbico Case Study, The Masters of the Endless Sea, Octalysis Group)

The result

The results speak for themselves. For this purpose, the KPIs were grouped into four categories.

(Fig 13: Navo Orbico Case Study, The Masters of the Endless Sea, Octalysis Group)

The "Training & Sales KPIs" area includes all activities, i.e. training conducted and number of sales hours. This area received an overall increase of 59.0 per cent, while the number of sales increased by 21.5 per cent.

The parameter of social interaction or human relations could not be measured precisely, as there was no measurement of it in advance, but Navo Orbico estimates that it has increased fourfold.

This factor is not to be sneezed at, as optimisation leads to less fluctuation and churn ("employee churn"), to more job satisfaction and accordingly to a better employee experience, which has an extremely beneficial effect on the corporate culture.

The participation rate also shows that practically none of the employees could escape the game, although it was designed on a purely voluntary basis. After the first employees exchanged information about the game, a feeling of FOMO, "fear of missing out", arose among the staff, also infected by the enthusiasm and motivation of the players.


As we announced in the first article, the Octalysis Framework (as well as real life) is about balance. Through the implementation of Masters of the Endless Sea, this could be achieved through the representation of the 8 Core Drives. This balance is the key to success when it comes to gamification.

(Fig 14: Navo Orbico Case Study, The Masters of the Endless Sea, Octalysis Group)

In conclusion, companies of all sizes and industries can benefit greatly from gamification initiatives. By properly implementing a gamification strategy in the workplace, companies can not only improve the engagement and morale of their workforce, but also achieve better performance results. Gamification also adds a layer of fun and enjoyment, which can lead to greater engagement, satisfaction and a better employee experience at work. The Navo Orbico example shows the way - now it's your turn!

In this second part, we look at the Octalysis Gamification Framework in practice in a corporate context. Here we look at the case studies of eBay and Navo Orbico (Procter & Gamble).
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