Pokémon Go is Playable, Apple Workouts is Gamified

Let’s say you are trying to develop an app where the goal is to get the user to walk more outside.

Pokémon Go does this by building an AR world where it is fun to go outside and find pokémon, and then it makes you walk in order to hatch them. It makes you go to new destinations to progress in the game. Walking is a byproduct that is not particularly rewarded outside of the game goals you achieve. For example, you aren’t given a badge just for walking a lot.

In Apple Workouts, I walk if I want to. I can tell the app or not. It tries to encourage me with alerts and badges (and filling my rings). It’s using positive reinforcement and the elements of games, but walking is not a game. They have layered on points, levels, badges, and competition.

This is what I mean about the difference between playability and gamification. I don’t think that Pokémon Go was actually trying to make a workout app. The walking mechanic is just what is available to an AR game—it’s the equivalent to the walking/running you have to do in any side-scroller.

Like Pokémon Go, the playable version of a thing is unlikely to resemble that thing at all. The gamified version is recognizable for what it is.