Scribd vs Oyster Octalysis Analysis: Why Scribd Survived

Unlimited reading sounds nice, doesn’t it? It sure did to me, too. I started using two subscription-based services in 2015, Oyster and Scribd.

By September 2015, Oyster was shut down. But in July 2016, Scribd seems alive and well.

Why did Oyster shut down? How did Scribd survive? Let’s use Yu-kai Chou’s 8 Core Drives of Octalysis to pit these e-book reading subscription services side-by-side.

As we dive in, let’s keep in mind the following context:

  • Oyster and Scribd were both probably aware their business models were unsustainable from the outset. They would need to attract users and then convert those users to a slightly different value proposition.
  • The marketplace for reading and publishing and the character of subscription-based e-book services is very new in the online space (but subscription publishing is very old otherwise).
  • Kindle Unlimited is somewhat immune from this scrutiny since it is one of many Amazon companies, and, in the reading industry, it works well alongside Audible, Amazon’s Kindle marketplace, and Goodreads.

As always, let’s use the following 8 Core Drives of Octalysis:

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Gamification Analysis of Medium (Octalysis Level 1)

First Impression

I first used Medium when I noticed several writers I followed using it. In the beginning, I wrote a story about my journey to the 2014 USA Memory Championship. I also reposted stories I’d written elsewhere, like this one about role models. Later, I experimented with Publications to house related stories.

I’m excited about long-form written content. Some information, debates, and stories simply demand more space for thought, discussion, and reaction. This is the context I had arriving at Medium in April 2014. Over two years later (June 2016), I’m back to take a close look at Medium from a gamification lens.

Before we start: This Gamification Analysis of Medium (Octalysis Level I) will focus on the composition side, meaning the writing of stories and responses and letters. In a future post, I will 1) discuss the reading and consumption side of Medium, and 2) detail my Octalysis Level II journey through Discovery,Onboarding, Scaffolding, and Endgame.

As always: I’ll be referencing the 8 Core Drives of Octalysis throughout:

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Gamification Analysis of Slack (Octalysis Level I)

I first used Slack with friends in a mastermind. Later, I created my own group to give and receive one-on-one feedback with other writers.

In the mastermind case, I downloaded Slack thanks to Core Drive 5: Social Influence & Relatedness (my friend sending the invite) with the aim of improving our group’s ability to stay connected and help one another (also CD5).

On the writing side, I was primarily motivated by Core Drive 3: Empowerment of Creativity & Feedback, with a focus on consistent, fluid communication with partners and collaborators to enhance my creative freedom.

In this post, I’ll be examining the primary Core Drives Slack plays on with a focus on Core Drive 5: Social Influence & Relatedness. I’ll begin with a discussion of the Black Hat techniques and finish with White Hat techniques.

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Anti Core Drives: What Pulls Us Away From a Desired Actions

You Want To, But You Won’t

Anti Core Drives are the motivational pulls away from a Desired Action. Oftentimes, an Anti Core Drive opposes a Core Drive enough to entice a user to make an Undesired Action.

For several years, my brother Mark has contemplated leaving work as a risk manager and crude analyst for an energy commodities trading firm to follow his passion of creating and producing music. When asked why he won’t, he cites losing progress toward a prestigious and lucrative role as an energy commodities trader, among other things. His Desired Action (to live a life making music) is fueled by Core Drive 3: Empowerment of Creativity & Feedback, but that Core Drive is first dampened and then repeatedly defeated by its Anti Core Drive. In this case, the Anti Core Drive is Core Drive 2: Development & Accomplishment.

If the player is my brother Mark and his game is life, he has consistently performed the Undesired Action, staying the course toward trading and being unhappy (so far, at least!).

To further explore how Anti Core Drives are all around us on the flip side of the Core Drives, let’s look at a few simple examples of each of the Core Drives working as Anti Core Drives and conclude with an example that incorporates multiple Anti Core Drives dynamically working at the same time.

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Level II Octalysis for Team Managers

Written by Yu-kai Chou with the help of Erik van Mechelen.

Now You’re a Manager

When Erik was selected to manage a four-person intern team at Target in 2012 after less than two years with the company, he was really excited for the challenge. He wasn’t sure if his manager knew it then, but at that moment early in his Target career he was motivated by Core Drives 2: Development & Accomplishment, Core Drive 3: Empowerment of Creativity & Feedback, and Core Drive 7: Unpredictability & Curiosity, so the unexpected responsibility of guiding four potential hires through a 10-week project aligned with his motivational wiring.

From the start, he planned to make the internship experience great. He’d been an intern and had ideas about how to improve various stages of the 10-week process. While there were some protocols to follow, he nevertheless intended to add his own creative approach on top. He was eager for his first management experience and wanted his intern team to impress people and deliver results.

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