[App Fridays] Can gamification and a daily $100 prize give Isle of Fortune a product-market fit?


Isle of Fortune is a daily quiz that lets people compete for a $100 prize. The app wants people to leverage their knowledge and gain money from it. But can such a model work in India or globally?

Digitisation drives scale, while gamification drives engagement. According to a report from Gartner, gamification is not just about applying technology to old engagement models, like awarding badges or pins. Gamification creates entirely new engagement models, targeting new communities of people and motivating them to achieve goals they may not know they have. Besides, an organisation enabling gamification achieves its own goals.

But the road to gamification success is full of pitfalls, and Gartner believes that many companies don’t understand how critical player motivation is to success. Virtual badges and power-ups may only keep players engaged for a short duration. Isle of Fortune, a game developer with roots in Singapore and Bengaluru, India, leverages gamification but takes its ‘pot of gold at the end of the rainbow’ offline with real-world cash prizes, starting from $100. Let us explore their story in this week’s App Fridays feature.

The Isle of Fortune team.

The story so far

Founded by Arjun Rao in January 2017, Isle of Fortune is a quiz app in which players compete against the clock and against other players to win multiple cash prizes.

Positioned as a knowledge-based, subjective and multiple-choice quiz, users with the best score in the fastest time are declared the winner every 24 hours and every week, respectively, for the two formats of quizzes that are currently live.

Talking to YourStory, Arjun, MD, Isle of Fortune, said the current version of the app was reached after beta testing with users. They had originally started out with only multiple-choice questions but then decided to include subjective questions to increase the difficulty level and also prevent some players who were not very engaged and were just guessing answers from the choices on offer.

Arjun Rao

Isle of Fortune currently has a 14-member team, spread across Singapore and Bengaluru. Arjun said that they had tied up with an agency to get content for their quizzes, but apart from that everything else, from technology to marketing, is done in-house by their team.

In terms of revenue, Isle of Fortune currently relies on in-app ads for monetisation but Arjun noted that they are looking at other avenues like micro payments for their more lucrative quizzes. He said,

The $100, 24-hour quiz will be free to participate, but our more lucrative weekly quiz will require users to pay a small fee to become eligible to play the game.

While he started out with financial support of his family and friends, Arjun wishes to reach out to angel investors or venture capitalists when the time is right. According to Google Play estimates, Isle of Fortune currently has about 1,000 installs and Arjun noted that these users are spread across 53 markets like India, Australia, the UK and Germany.

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How Isle of Fortune works and first impressions

The current version of Isle of Fortune has two quizzes:

  • A daily quiz with 10 free attempts every day. This quiz runs daily for 24 hours, starting at 00:01 hours GMT every day, and ending at 23:59 hours GMT on that same day. The player with the highest score in the least time is awarded a cash prize of $100 or its local equivalent.
Screengrab of a sample 'Daily Quiz' question
  • The Grand Game: This quiz runs weekly, starting from 00:01 GMT every Monday and ending at 23:59 hours GMT on the Sunday of the same week. The reward for the Grand Game is a cash prize of $1,000 or its local equivalent for the fastest time.
The $100 and $1000 quizes

Though it appears on the app, the ‘Grand Game’ isn't live, yet. I found out that users can play the daily quiz for up to 10 times in a 24-hour period and the app aims doesn't repeat the questions, to ensure a level playing field for players. While the quality of questions were quite good and the topics diverse, I found most of the questions were targeted at US-centric audiences. Hence the difficulty level felt quite high and I wasn’t able to complete the quiz within three minutes on multiple occasions.

Sector overview and future plans

Arjun noted that they are looking at localisation of content and even launching in regional languages like Spanish and others in the future iterations of the app. Another hurdle they hope to surpass is the legal in nature: because of cash prizes involved, they require additional permissions and licences to work in some Indian cities and countries. For example, Isle of Fortune is not allowed to operate in the states of Tamil Nadu and Nagaland, due to government rules and regulations.

But will Isle of Fortune look at changing rewards from cash prizes to products from sponsors? Arjun discussed the pros and cons of such a move. Cash prizes have universal appeal and leads to better engagement, so if they are replaced by a sponsor’s product then only a subset of their audience may find it interesting and compete in the quiz. He noted,

But this actually helps us provide valuable insights to brands on the demographic of users who would be interested in their products.

Building a globally successful game out of India though is a tough task. Only few like 99Games, Octro, Moonfrog Labs and Nazara have been able to make inroads and succeed. To appeal to a global user base, Isle of Fortune will likely need to strengthen focus on content and localisation and find the sweet spot in terms of difficulty level of their game.

Website- Isle of Fortune

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