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5 effective UX design tips for mobile game developers

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Have you ever played a mobile game and said to yourself, ”Ugh, navigating through this game is not easy at all,” or said, “If only it was easier to find controls in this game.” Here, we are not talking about the gameplay itself, but things such as finding and using controls, relevant information displaying on screen, or navigating between game screens.

The gameplay might involve the user exploring, or discovering hidden features, however, no user will like a mobile game, where the overall user experience is tedious and relies heavily on discovery than intuition. In order to make your game experience more user friendly, here’s a look at 5 user experience considerations when designing a mobile game.

  1. Make the most of the mobile platform
    With a desktop or a gaming console, you have ample screen estate to play with. On a smartphone, the smaller screen size will definitely be a cripple, but there are features specific to smartphone that can be effectively leveraged to create a solid gaming experience.
    For instance, in an action game, users could toggle between weapons by simply swiping across their current weapon selection. Secondary controls such as throwing a grenade or launching a missile could be mapped to longer screen taps.
    Any game that is motion-based typically relies on the gyro sensor for directional movements. A good way to make this experience more immersive is to use the device vibrator for specific events such as a car starting or even crashing, or crossing milestones or winning prizes.
  2. Keep the in-game navigation simple
    If your game users have to jump between three game pages just to get to the menu or even exit the game, they are quite likely to get irritated. Keep the transitions between the game to a necessary minimum and the user experience should be seamless.
    Information that is relevant and required before the game starts such as controls, online or offline play options, even the exit button, should be placed keeping the smaller screen in mind, appearing clearly right upfront on the game home screen.
    Within the game, menus relevant to the gameplay should be easily accessible. A good practice would be to place them in top corners or even try something innovative like having slide out tabs that can be opened by swiping in from the left or right side of the screen.
  3. Game UX experience is about being creative with logic
    Being a developer does not mean your game UX cannot get creative. Every game and in-game event has a logical progression. Everything right from navigation, to the appearance of buttons should have creativity with logic backing it. Put yourself in the user’s shoes and think what they would do next. Use persuasive design with navigation, the appearance and timing of buttons so that you steer the user towards a desired outcome.
  4. Keep the user experience light and intuitive
    Don’t get too ambitious with the user experience, packing in unnecessary animations, layers and transitions. The bottom line is to keep the UX as intuitive and light as possible. The user should find the game experience enjoyable than arduous. The appearance and the need to click on a buttons in the game should feel natural to a user. Also a lighter game experience means lesser performance overheads too.
  5. App monetization should be non-intrusive to the UX
    Unless it’s a paid game, you will need to monetize it with in-app purchases or mobile advertising. However, users will find it absolutely annoying if an ad pops up abruptly or slows down the game. A good practice would be to have ads appearing at in-game transitions or at points in game such as a level completion. A monetization approach that works really well with mobile games is incentivized ads. These ads can be tied to the game experience and users can be rewarded with in-game currency or unlock game content if they click on an ad.

Needless to say, mobile gaming spans across a variety of genres right from action and arcade to racing and strategy. Each genre will require taking a different approach to the user experience based on the gameplay. Be that as it may, the above few basic game UX considerations should help you design a seamless, enriching and highly immersive user experience for your mobile game.

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