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Could gamifying apps disrupt the App Store in the same way Netflix disrupted TV?

Free 2 Play games might be doomed. Well, they will be soon if they don’t change, was the idea was seeded by Gabe Zichermann, Founder & Chief Executive Officer at Gamification.Co, who believes that titles like Clash of Clans and Game of War will bore people soon enough, and end up being edged out by a new form of mobile games consumption.

Zichermann was speaking at the Mobile Games Forum in London last week, in which he spoke about gamification’s future in mobile gaming. He started his talk with an image of the top revenue-generating games of 2014 and 2015. Sadly, despite all the new games that get released every year, the same free 2 play titles were present in the top ten. However, rather than seeing this as a sad state of affairs, Zichermann sees it as an opportunity.

“The only other medium that’s the same from one year to the next is television.

“If things stay static for too long, people will get bored of it.”

He expanded his television analogy to explain that major TV networks put out series after series of the same show until people stop watching – they would then be replaced by new shows from the same networks. However, the arrival of Netflix and its original viewing, and streaming in general, has sent many networks’ viewerships tumbling. The TV model was disrupted.

Zichermann believes this is about to happen to free 2 play titles, while they relentlessly pursue the IAP-purchases, or ad-driven gameplay, other areas in the App Store are ushering new avenues of output using game-techniques to refresh the approach of other apps.

A key example he uses is Duolingo, which he describes as having 100 million users that have made a choice to learn, and aren’t using the app as a distraction, as with many games, in particular free 2 play titles.

Zichermann goes on to explain that he used to believe “we’ve conquered boredom in my lifetime. You don’t even have to think when you’re on the toilet”. However, he went on to explain “the old version of boredom is gone.”

He says the future can be seen in the top grossing section of the App Store, alongside Duolingo, you’ve got the Toca range, and this gamified approach to learning proves there is a new approach coming through that could seriously disrupt the approach to games on the App Store. “The parents and the kids understand – the top charts in education mostly include gamification.”

“This change in behaviour happens all the time,” he concluded. “When will it happen to mobile?”

It might well be sooner than we think.

Gabe Zichermann can be found on Twitter @gzicherm.