How to Create a Game for Financial Wellness: Look Inside Truist Long Game

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

The rigidity of this methodology is motivating multiple fintechs and financial institutions to incorporate it into their digital experiences. The newest entrant into the space is Truist, with Truist Long Game. The game rewards customers for behaviors that promote financial wellness, such as 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 runs Truist Foundry, a start-up at the heart of the bank. Holden spent the last year integrating Long Game with the larger Truist ecosystem; the game is free to play but requires users to sign up with a Truist bank account.

Truist Long Game: Game Mechanics

An image showing three screens from the Truist Long Game.  The screens show the option to save, play games like Candy Crush.  The colors are green and purple for the entire game.

Most games today have an in-game economy, which determines which features users can interact with, how often, and how they are rewarded. In many ways, the game economy is the connective tissue of a gaming experience: it determines how often players engage in a game, when and how they face challenges, and where they push themselves.

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

In addition to daily play, another aspect of the Truist Long Game that drives consistency in engagement is trivia. The game limits users to two trivia games per day.

“We have a big commitment on this because we limit the amount you can do every day. It’s not a game, where you spend a lot of time, but you come back every day. It becomes part of their habit, which has been great for retention of this product,” Holden said.

The interesting thing about Truist Long Game is that it doesn’t lock its users into a single type of game design. In fact, it offers nine games for users to play:

  1. lucky bounce
  2. connect 3
  3. Mega Win Slots
  4. Spin to win
  5. scratching posts
  6. Flip it
  7. merge mania
  8. fruit frenzy
  9. omega million

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

Why gamify?

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

“We are responsible for thinking about emerging technology areas and other types of creative ways that we can increase digital adoption within the bank. We are also multifunctional. We have risk officers, strategy, design, product and engineering people within our teams. The idea is to bring these teams together closely so that we can innovate faster,” Holden said.

He added that Truist Foundry is currently working on many other projects that engender this philosophy.

When it comes to gamification specifically, the bank is invoking the concept of “reward-linked savings” with its recent launch of the game. The idea is simple: You won’t lose money, but you can win cash prizes by engaging in positive financial behaviors.

playing the long game

While the game’s release is fairly recent, Holden says that there is room for growth for the game. Instead of just focusing on savings, the game’s financial education materials can be expanded in the future to include topics like paying off debt or saving for retirement.

Unlike most gamification efforts, however, Truist Long Game has the advantage of building on a product that has already been on the market for seven years. As such, it’s already gone through the ideation and troubleshooting stages that affect many new products. Having Holden, the co-founder of the original Long Game, lead the efforts at Truist Foundry also helps.

If done right, gamification can be really catchy and useful. “In the US, the majority of Millennials and Gen Z are gaming on their phones. We’re taking this experience that people are already participating in and meeting our customers where they are. If you want to play games, you can do it now – they can help save and educate on financial literacy,” Holden said.