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Case study: Homeguessr

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Khoury Finance is a mortgage and real-estate business operating out of Los Angeles, California.

Competition in the real-estate business is fierce, and the entire industry is facing a downturn due to high interest rates which are negatively impacting many smaller business’ bottom lines.

Khoury Finance wanted us to help them figure out a way to stay competitive in this environment.

Identifying Opportunity

Orienting ourselves to the business was an obvious first step, and we went over in detail the structure of the business, and how everything operated to get a full understanding of what would be necessary to drive up conversions.

We hit the ground running with some customer discovery, which was done with interviews of Khoury Finance’s past clientele. We learned about their habits, how they liked to shop for homes, and how they identified professionals they trusted and wanted to work with.

We learned that a substantial amount of people begin their home buying journey online, primarily through listing websites such as Redfin, Zillow, and others. They like to browse, finding homes they can form a sort of romantic attachment to, only then getting to the point where they’d want to involve a Realtor or mortgage professional.

Identifying the listing websites as the introductory step and core to modern home shopping led us to think about creating even more enjoyable ways to browse homes.

After some collaboration and back-and-forth of ideas, we identified a browser game as a likely effective vehicle for marketing the business.

Browser games are quickly becoming an effective way to achieve many business goals such as: traffic, SEO, brand awareness and conversions.

The Task

We needed to accomplish a few key things:

A game could serve to address all these business needs and also allow our client to stand out from the competition by doing something innovative and cool.

Well designed games are also inherently fun, making it shareable would have people spreading it on social media organically, playing it with their friends – increasing brand awareness and traffic.

Finally, if we could find a way to make the game cohesive with the services being offered, we could use each game loop as an opportunity to feature the services offered by Khoury Finance.


After getting down to some research about the real-estate and mortgage industry by browsing through tons of conversations online, interviewing past clients, and working with the business owner, we identified a keystone conversation piece across all discussions about real-estate today: home prices.

Since home prices are such a core to people’s thinking about real-estate, it led us to think about opportunities for using Gamification to meet our goals.

Since overpriced properties are commonly balked at and reasonably priced properties are such an impressive rarity, a game where users can guess at properties and get immediate feedback was an ideal fit for this situation. Not only would it be educational and help buyers set expectations, but it would be inherently fun due to the quick and emotionally anchored feedback loop.

Even beyond the core audience of home shoppers the housing market is a very hot topic. People of all economic situations dream of one day owning a home, and home prices are a direct obstacle to that, and a point of focus for them. We’ve seen this focus manifest on subreddits with big communities such as /r/zillowgonewild and /r/REBubble, where people gather to discuss huge gaps between their price expectations and the listed values.

The fact that this subject is of massive popularity far outside of our target audience could act as a major boon for the game, it could have an element of virality that’s usually out of reach for niche small business offerings.

Taking inspiration from Geoguessr, a popular geography guessing game, we combined these concepts into Homeguessr – the listing price guessing game.

By taking aggregate guesses on properties across specific areas, this could also transform into a useful collection of data that could be sold later, opening up other opportunities as the game grows.

Building the Game

The most important aspect of any game is the core gameplay loop. If that isn’t fun, the whole thing is a non-starter.

We started off with a simple prototype to test out the simplest possible version game with team members, ex-clients, and friends and family. The goal here was to ensure that guessing on properties would actually be engaging and enjoyable, without any front-end glitz and glamour:


Our first test was quite successful, and validated our assumptions. After a few rounds testers were very evidently getting into the game, and having emotional reactions at both the high and low prices of the properties. Whenever expectations weren’t met (which was often) we saw visible curiosity and eagerness to see more.

After the business owner was satisfied with our initial results, we collaborated on the front-end design. They wanted a darker theme that was in-line with a lot of modern browser based games, which we agreed was a solid design direction. After some back-and-forth, we came up with this first iteration:



Now that we had a serviceable front-end, it was time to publish it and spread it amongst our client’s old book of business, social media, and select forums for more feedback.

After plenty of helpful feedback we were able to come up with the next feature ideas, such as:

Once we had a respectable feature set that addressed all the feedback we had gotten, we returned to the front-end to give it that finished polish.

With lots of back-and-forth, we came up with a design our client really loved:




With a solid looking app fully fleshed out, CTAs in place, we were ready to hit the public.

Getting it out there

The huge advantage to creating a game as a marketing vehicle is that they’re FUN.

This creates unique opportunities for marketing that aren’t available to other tactics such as PPC, banner ads, or video content.

By posting on a few choice Reddit communities, we were able to get tens of thousands of views on the game app with just two social media pushes, without any advertising costs:


Not only were we able to quickly and easily generate users, but the staying power of the game was made obvious with the consistent stream of people flooding in after the posts had died down.


We can see the impact the Reddit posts had directly, about 6.9k views, and compare that to the view count yield which was around 17.5k – and we can see the benefits of creating something people want to share.


The early data analysis also allowed us to prioritize. Observing that the vast majority of our users were mobile, and on Safari (iOS users most likely), we were able to identify the hardware and software that our users use most, and optimize for them.

Also interesting to note is the concentration of views within the United States, which we didn’t necessarily expect from organic Reddit marketing. This was a pleasant surprise as it fits our client’s target audience.

As the organic push continues to have legs, pushing traffic to our client’s services, we’re working with them to find new avenues to explore in leveraging the game.

Future avenues include affiliate marketing opportunities for listing websites like Redfin and Zillow, data aggregation for larger real-estate corporations, and in-app revenue generation through AdSense and other advertisement hosting platforms.