Koukku: Study seeks solution to positive game commitment

Customer commitment and personalised communications are the keys to successful marketing. With their Koukku (hook) research project, Aalto University and the University of Tampere's Game Research Lab are seeking to enhance positive commitment to both games and businesses.

"The study found that, for players, the community formed around a game can seem even more valuable than the game itself. In the future, it may be the spin-offs and services that are profitable, rather than the game," says Essi Pöyry, a researcher at Aalto University and the research coordinator of the Koukku project.

Aalto University is involved in the 'Koukku – Myyntipsykologiaa peleihin, pelipsykologiaa myyntiin' (Hook – Sales psychology in games, game psychology in sales) study – set to run from 2014 to 2016 – together with the University of Tampere's Game Research Lab. The Game Research Lab will explore how game design and psychology can be deployed outside the game world, and what appeals to players and persuades them to pay for game content. The technology company Frosmo, Suomen Ostohyvitys Oy and software firm Kneto have been the business partners in the project funded under the Tekes' Skene game programme.

How to inspire the customer?

The study has involved exploring positive commitment to a company's services or sales process.

"The idea is not to examine how young people can be persuaded to play more, but how companies can be alerted to what makes people excited about a game and how such enthusiasm can be turned towards other services," Pöyry explains.

Aalto University has been looking into various motivating tools.

"For example, IT services like those of Frosmo require the customer's participation in the service in order to create value. No value will be created if the customer feels that the software is non-intuitive. We are looking at how to excite customers using game-based features, personalisation and targeting," Pöyry comments.

Making the most of analytics

Modern companies are able to collect large amounts of detailed data on customer behaviour and test what kinds of service elements work best.

"However, an analysis based on behaviour data alone doesn't give the whole picture of the actual relationship between user motivation and behaviour. Companies should try to combine several different types of data from a range of sources," says researcher Juho Hamari of the School of Information Sciences at the University of Tampere.

The Koukku study reveals that people are always internally motivated to play games, based on their own preferences and starting points.

"In sales, the starting point is almost always the opposite: they try to get people to want and do things. In other words, games are all about pulling in customers, while sales activities are about push. The Finnish game industry has done well in recent years, while other sectors have woken up to the weaknesses in Finnish sales and marketing. The Koukku project is seeking solutions to issues that are handled extremely well in the gaming industry, such as the meaningful and even fun management of customer relationships," Hamari points out.

Competition is ferocious for the time and money of both corporate customers and consumers.

"For example, in the application business, if you can't get the customer excited about your app quickly, no one will ever use it. In my own research, I've found that the customer has to want to be 'friends' with the company. Customers are willing to spend money and time on a company if they feel that it 'belongs to them' or that it is doing good. This is becoming a major issue in both the consumer and B2B business," Essi Pöyry affirms.

For further information, please contact

Essi Pöyry
essi.poyry (at) aalto.fi

Juho Hamari
jujohama (at) gmail

Author: SST Viestintä
Picture: Susanna Lehto

Kaj Nordgren