How to build a game for financial wellness: Peering inside Truist Long Game

  • Gamification can be very impactful when done right. It is specifically useful in encouraging behaviors like savings and building financial literacy.
  • Truist Long Game is built to encourage savings habits and financial literacy amongst its users, with the help of 9 arcade and puzzle like games as well as trivia.

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How to build a game for financial wellness: Peering inside Truist Long Game

Gamification is a process that transforms a regular process (like savings or buying/selling stocks) into an experience, which is similar to a game. The idea behind the strategy is simple: gamified experiences keep users engaged and motivated. One area where this strategy works really well is learning. Currently, the gamification industry in North America is valued at $3.8 billion and expected to grow in the coming years. 

The stickiness of this methodology is motivating multiple fintechs and financial institutions to incorporate it into their digital experiences. The most recent entrant into the space is Truist, with Truist Long Game. The game rewards clients for behaviors that  promote financial wellness, like saving or engaging with financial education materials. 

Before Truist acquired Long Game last year,  it was in the market for about 7 years under the tutelage of Lindsay Holden, who now heads the Truist Foundry – a startup at the heart of the bank. Holden has spent the last year integrating Long Game with the larger Truist ecosystem; the game is free but requires users to sign up with a Truist bank account. 

Truist Long Game: Game mechanics

A picture showing three screens from the Truist Long Game. The screens shows the option to save, play games like candy crush. The colors are green and purple for the whole game.

Most games today have an in-game economy, which determines what features users can interact with, how often and how they are rewarded. In many ways, the in-game economy is the connective tissue of a gaming experience – it  determines how often players engage with a game, when and how they are challenged, and what they are striving toward. 

An in-game economy, like a real economy, needs currency. For the Truist Long Game, it is coins. The game rewards users with coins for engaging in healthy financial habits like saving or playing financial literacy trivia. Users pay with these coins to play games that allow users to win cash prizes. Games that require more coins offer a chance to win more money. Truist Long Game also allows players to set up savings goals and helps them track their progress – all cash prizes are deposited directly in the consumer’s Truist bank account. Each day customers are offered a “daily game”, which allows them to earn the in-game currency: coins.

Apart from the daily game, another aspect of Truist Long Game that drives consistency in engagement is the trivia. The game limits users to two trivia games a day. 

“We have really great engagement in this because we limit the amount you can do every day. It's not a game, where you spend a tonne of time, but you come back every day. It becomes kind of part of your habit, which has been great for the retention of this product,” said Holden. 

What is interesting about Truist Long Game is that it doesn't cage its users to one type of game design. In fact, it offers ten games for users to play:

  1. Lucky Bounce
  2. Puzzles and Prices
  3. Connect 3
  4. Mega Win Slots
  5. Spin to Win
  6. Scratchers
  7. Flip It
  8. Merge Mania
  9. Fruit Frenzy
  10. Omega Millions

As far as the UX is concerned, it seems to have been built around the Truist purple, sea green, peaches and pink. “Luckily, all the beautiful art that we had already worked so hard on, kind of  matched Truist's colors,” said Holden. While the team didn't have to rework the art in the game, things like menus and buttons required an upgrade according to Truist’s color scheme. 

Why Gamify?

The answer to this question for Truist is possibly two fold. Firstly, as a product of the startup, Truist Foundry, the bank is perhaps focusing on innovative mechanisms to drive digital adoption through efforts like Truist Long Game. It seems that the bank wants a piece of the startup culture in its innovation arm. 

“We are responsible for thinking through emerging tech areas, and other kinds of creative ways that we can increase digital adoption within the bank. We're cross functional, as well. We have risk, operations, strategy, design, product, and engineering folks within our teams. The idea is to tightly couple these teams so that we can innovate more quickly,” said Holden. 

She added that the Truist Foundry is currently working on multiple other projects that engender this philosophy.

As far as specifically gamification is concerned, the bank is invoking the concept of “prized-linked savings” with its recent game launch. The idea is simple: you stand to lose no money but may instead win cash prizes if you engage in positive financial behaviors. 

Playing the long game

While the launch of the game is quite recent, Holden says that there is a possibility of growth for the game. Rather than just focusing on savings, the game's financial education materials can be extended in the future, to include topics like paying down debt or saving for retirement. 

Unlike most gamification efforts though, Truist Long Game has the benefit of building on a product that was already in the market for seven years. As such it has already gone through ideation and troubleshooting stages that plague many new products. Having Holden, the co-founder of the original Long Game, running the efforts at Truist Foundry, also helps as well. 

Done right, gamification can be really sticky and useful. “In the US, a majority of Millennials and Gen Z are playing games on their phones. We're taking this experience that people are already engaging in, and meeting our clients where they are. If you want to play games, you can do it now – they can help to save and educate about financial literacy,” said Holden. 

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