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Walmart: Project


 "Spark City" mobile management game

The Challenge

How does the world’s largest employer attract and develop a new generation of managers who have spent more time playing games than they have in the classroom? With a game, of course, complete with confetti rain and Fortnite-style happy dance moves every time the player avatar completes a task successfully.

The Solution

Walmart turned to Gronstedt Group to develop “Spark City”, a mobile management game. The retail giant has taken the bold step of making the game public for anyone considering a career in retailing, whether they already work for Walmart or not. The game is now available on the App Store and Google Play where it has been downloaded over 500,000 times. It earned a Brandon Hall Gold Award and was a finalist in the Serious Games Showcase & Challenge.

Modeled on popular mobile resource management games like Sims and Clash of Clans, Spark City challenges Walmart associates to run their departments like small businesses. Players make inventory, staffing and customer service decisions, packing months of business processes into hours of gameplay. By unlocking new levels, tools and useful information, they learn to consistently execute Walmart's "One Best Way" department management routine.

  • Familiar mission and storyline, hint-system and feedback, level progression and freedom to fail elements keep learners engaged.

  • Real-time feedback – in the form of customer service, inventory and sales scores – keeps them focused on business results.

  • Spark City leverages a “learning while having fun” model, maximizing “reps and sets” at critical job tasks.

  • It also helps associates visualize a clear career path and advancement opportunities as they level up from department to department (and eventually to store and district manager).

Associates engage Spark City in the Walmart Academy, one of the largest employer training programs in the country. Front-line hourly supervisors, department managers and assistant managers play the game on iPad Minis during week-long training programs, and it’s already proven to be both viral and effective.

The Results

On the net-promoter question, “how likely are you to recommend playing the sim to a Walmart colleague?" pilot session participants rated it an average of 9.625 on a 10-point-scale. And classes that played the game improved 22% from pre-assessment to post-assessment.

Excitement about the launch of the game has been building for several months. Walmart received more than 2,800 entries in a competition to name the game and the two associates who suggested Spark City (a reference to the spark symbol in the company logo) were rewarded by having their names and likenesses appear as managers in the game. Now that it’s available to all 1.4 million associates (and beyond), the app promises to simultaneously upend conventional understandings about what’s possible in training, selection and recruitment. With over half a million active users, Spark City’s popularity is undeniable.


As you can imagine, we at Gronstedt Group couldn’t be prouder of our work with a visionary client like Walmart, and we’re gratified – if not surprised – by the results. The truth is that advanced, innovative learning technologies and practices are generating unheard-of successes for think-forward organizations around the world. Projects like Spark City are the future, and as Walmart demonstrates, the future is already here.

Click here to watch a recording of our webinar about the game, featuring presenter Daniel Shepherd, Walmart’s Senior Manager II, Customer Experience.

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