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BLOG / Build VS Buy: The Real Cost Of Building Your Own Gamification Platform

Build VS Buy: The Real Cost Of Building Your Own Gamification Platform

January 5, 2021

Once you decide to invest in gamification for your platform you need to figure out how you’re going to go about it. In addition to the actual cost, you also need to think about how you’re going to set up your software. Your main choice is between building your own or buying a SaaS.

There are pros and cons to either side. At the end of the day, your decision depends on the factors you are prioritizing. The main factors you should look at include the initial cost, long-term maintenance, level of personalization, and time and effort spent.

Reasons to build

Building from scratch takes a lot of time and effort. If you don’t want to pay a larger amount upfront and are willing to spend time slowly developing a custom software you may go this route. The main cost of building an app is the time spent and the opportunity cost attached.

Objectively speaking, building a platform on your own is not necessarily cheaper than buying from a reputable server. However, if your company has specific needs or tech that is hard to incorporate with external providers, it can be less hassle to make your own. That’s especially true if your team has strong IT and design resources.

Cost of building

The cost of building your own sales gamification platform deals mainly with four different skill sets. Within that, you have to take the average salary and time spent into account because, in most cases, you’ll have to hire freelancers to do the work for you.

  1. A good designer can charge anywhere between $2.6K to $3.6K per week. And seven days is the minimum amount of time you’ll need with a good designer, provided there are no unexpected delays.
  2. A senior PM will cost for 8 to 10 days from $4K to $6K. It’s important to find the right person for this post if you want to keep your project on track.
  3. Front end developers will take the biggest part of your budget. You will spend $25K to $35K on your team depending on their individual skill levels. And that’s for around two months of labor. All of these values depend heavily on the type of app you want and how long the development and tweaking process takes.
  4. A single backend developer will take $12 to $16K for a month of work.

These are just baseline estimates that add up to $45K to $60K and don’t take into account the cost of research, wireframing, storyboarding, etc. There are also multiple stages of testing and reviews outside of the straight building phase.

Reasons to buy

The biggest issue with building a platform is the time it takes to upload changes or ship prompts live. That means you could have hundreds of users who miss out on the complete experience. Over 60 percent of users leave an app if they aren’t satisfied in the first week. And with building a platform, a lot is lost in the initial phase of onboarding.

On the other hand, when you buy a gamification platform, you get the complete product from the very beginning. With that, you get the opportunity to capitalize on every user and keep them there beyond the first week. Most people don’t understand that with buying, the more you customize and add new features, the longer it takes to implement these features. It also costs up to twice as much. So the aspect of personalization isn’t a given. It’s a possibility that comes at considerable expense.

What should you choose?

At the end of the day, the choice is yours. Granted, we’re a little biased because Spinify is one of the best platforms on the market for onboarding and gamification software. But that just means we know exactly what goes into setting up these apps.

From engineers and designers to marketers and managers, the entire process will cost you thousands of dollars. It has more upfront charges than any premade app which include around $45,000 a year in onboarding costs.

With purchasing you know exactly what you’re getting and how it will perform. You also have the security of an established company that knows what they are doing and will deal with any issues that crop up.


To make it easy, here are the basic pros and cons that will ultimately guide your decision.

When you build:

  • The app is custom made and gives you exactly what you want
  • You can save money long term
  • You have to spend more upfront
  • It takes a long time to set up, and you lose potential users
  • Setting up an MVP can take months

When you buy:

  • You get the app ready to use, so onboarding takes only a few days
  • You don’t need to hire an independent development team
  • Maintenance is easier
  • Built-in features usually cover the needs of your business
  • Customization is limited

Put those insights into practice.

Set your team up for success by improving their performance through gamification.

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