Coachella Quests: Inside the Festival’s Gamified Scavenger Hunts

“The festival has a consistent desire to drive engagement and activity and feet on the ground to all the activations, partnerships, food vendors, festival stages and all of the things that happen at Coachella. And gamification is a great way to do it.”

–Sam Schoonover, Innovation Lead, Coachella

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Quest players could unlock access to rewards like surprise merch boxes and access to VIP lounges.

Organizers of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival are consistently on the hunt for fresh ways to keep fans on-site and engaged in everything the event has to offer, from the performances to the partner activations to the f&b. At this year’s fest, April 12-14 and April 19-21, those efforts took the shape of a new Web3-based loyalty game dubbed Coachella Quests that rewarded festivalgoers for participating in virtual and physical festival experiences. With nearly 50,000 Quests ultimately completed, it’s safe to say Coachella is on to something.

The setup was straightforward. Fans first signed up for OpenSea’s Web3 wallet using their email address. The platform’s blockchain technology ensured they could participate in the game while protecting their identity. The wallet was then used to collect digital stamps (actually, NFTs) and associated points (XP) based on the Quests players completed online and IRL. The challenges were released in four themed “chapters.” The first two pertained to pre-festival tasks, like engaging with the festival’s Discord channel or finding a code hidden within a YouTube video. The latter two chapters took place during the festival and encompassed on-site scavenger hunts.

As fans completed Quests and earned XP, they unlocked access to exclusive prizes and festival experiences, like a mystery merch box, admission to VIP lounges and access to unreleased music. Plus, one diehard fan who completed all of the Quests and earned enough points was randomly selected to win the grand prize: the Coachella Key, a rare NFT that came with two free Coachella 2025 tickets.

pourri-sxsw-2024-getty-images-disco-people_teaserMore on Gamification:

“People love completing challenges, people love earning points and earning tokens and badges—gamification works, right?” says Sam Schoonover, innovation lead at Coachella. “And the festival has a consistent desire to drive engagement and activity and feet on the ground to all the activations, partnerships, food vendors, festival stages and all of the things that happen at Coachella. And gamification is a great way to do it. So we think as much about gamification as we do loyalty in a program like this.”

Among on-site challenges was a “Disco Shark” Quest that tasked participants with finding a QR code hidden around the Yuma tent. Each day of the Quest, a limited number of fans could collect a stamp that yielded a limited-edition, physical Disco Shark collectible that, when tapped with a smartphone, unlocked access to an exclusive, unreleased Eli & Fur song. According to Coachella, fans could be found sprinting to the Yuma tent as soon as the doors opened, arriving out of breath and prompting security to ask festival organizers what exactly was going on.

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The Disco Shark Quest unlocked access to an unreleased Eli & Fur song.

In addition to the main Coachella Quests, participants could play Side Quests, which featured content and experiences from partners, artists and Coachella community programs, to earn additional rewards.

“When a partner comes and activates at Coachella, they want to drive eyeballs online and foot traffic on-site to their activations, and this [game] is a great way to do that,” says Schoonover. “We’ve seen a lot of success doing that in the past, so it’s certainly a part of how we want to work with our partners and ensure that Coachella fans are seeing all the cool things that our partners are up to.”

All of the data collected from the Coachella Quests, of course, will be leveraged to improve future festival experiences over the long term, including partner activations, artist lineups and food and beverage options. Organizers will also use the info to reward players throughout the rest of the year and into 2025, and, ultimately, will form a list of hyper-engaged fans, then share their digital wallet addresses with brand partners.

“It’s always useful to have more granular data around the activities that people are completing at the festival site versus just buying a ticket, buying food and beverage, what have you,” Schoonover says. “So being able to have a more long-term relationship with people based on those activities is an exciting place of exploration.” Partner: Avalanche (technology).

Kait Shea
Posted by Kait Shea

Kait joined EM in 2015 and today enjoys her role as senior editor, digital content. When she’s not in reporter mode, rocking mermaid pants at Comic-Con or running laps at MWC Barcelona, you can find her at home listening to music.
View all articles by Kait Shea →

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