If you’re annoyed with a game, would you stop playing it? Is user interface and experience really as crucial as we think it is? Online, we see people complaining about games they think look horrible or can’t seem to work, but still continue with it.
We asked Anton Soeharyo, Co-founder of Indonesia-based Touchten Games what he thought gamers hate. Here are five things publishers and developers need to be cautious of:
1. Advertising Users are generally annoyed by the excess number of pop-ups during gameplay and after. It distracts the gamer and creates unnecessary waiting time when done during the game, and reduces the aesthetics of the game when done after or before gameplay.
2. Missing the mark Ever played a beta game? You would know that most games, while still in test or beta mode, suck. Sure, the gameplay might be there (and pretty basic, as well) but it’s just a waste of the gamer’s time. Soeharyo said, “[Another thing gamers hate would be] the use of games in proof of concept. People think it’s a waste of their time – they download and expect it to have some level of fun, but none of [those needs are met].”
3. Your money, please When game developers opt for a freemium model, they have to settle for seemingly tacky things like in-app purchases and lite versions. Admittedly, Soeharyo said that they have tried these and heard their users complain about having to pay in order to enjoy the full experience.
He added that seasoned and hardcore gamers would often think these in-app purchases are “gimmicky”. There have even been cases of developers promoting games as “no advertisements or in-app purchases”, but these make up a small part of the mobile gaming market.
However, if you’re dealing with Southeast Asia, there’s really nothing to worry about. Even though gamers in this part of the world might hate these annoying payment models (and still, be cheapskate enough to not pay for a game), they’re perfectly fine with tolerating advertisements and in-app purchases. Anton explained:
“In my experience, it’s mostly the developed nations — it’s a known fact that the US complains more than other regions. In our game, I have received no complaint in reviews. People in the US will write both bad and good reviews. That only happens in the US and Japan. Having said that, in matured markets such as the US, UK and Japan, these countries have a tendency to push their opinions. In Southeast Asia, we are used to not paying — piracy is rampant.
[There are] a lot of in-app purchases, [but] as long as I don’t buy, I can play. If you want to make your US market, you have to “obey” these unwritten rules. If your market is SEA, China, Taiwan, the more the ads [and] people don’t really mind. They don’t really voice their opinions.”
He also shared an example where in home country Indonesia, people are crazy for games like Candy Crush Saga. In order to continue the game without requesting “lives” from friends, people would spend money on in-app purchases.
4. Stop crashing
What have you got to say about a game that keeps crashing? He leapt to defend indie game developers, saying, “We are using a lot of plug-ins. These are usually third party which makes them buggy or crash.”
However, he specified that this isn’t just about the smaller players. He added, “At first I thought it happens a lot with indie, but a lot of times, big companies also make these kinds of mistakes. In a lot of reviews they (gamers) complain because [the game] crashed. Because we’re indie, we don’t have all the devices and plug-in is unstable.”
I asked him about a game I recently got my hands on. It’s Gameloft’s Uno With Friends. It was so buggy that it kept crashing or being unstable every few minutes or so, and especially when I went on multi-player mode. I left after a while, but was left curious to know why is it that people still play it. He has never played Uno With Friends but shared that there are usually two reasons why gamers stick with these games despite the obvious bugs.
Soeharyo explained, number one is brand. These are proven intellectual properties (IPs) like Monopoly. People still play because of the memories. Because of this, they keep playing and coming back. And number two? He added, sometimes game studios rush titles which are made in conjunction with movies. Due to time constraints, bug and device testing are sometimes treated as a less important process. However, players will still come back for more as the games help them relive memories from the movies.
5. Corrupted data and updates Everyone likes a game which is relevant and updated. So what’s the trouble here? Well, at times, updates can cause previously saved data to turn corrupt, and ruin days, weeks or even months of hard work.
He shared, “Whenever we do some updates, we really hope players will keep coming back. But sometimes, it can corrupt the data from the previous game. Sometimes, it’s inevitable. For example, in Infinite Sky, players have already completed 128 missions, but we thought we could please them. But it’s gone.”
This one’s unforgivable, it seems. If you wipe out a player’s history, you can pretty much dream on about keeping them as loyal users. However, transparency when it comes to making mistakes will help you in the long run, and position you as a game company which cares more about being honest than shirking responsibility.
Pro-tip? When such issues occur, publish a statement on your website detailing the mistakes and perhaps reward users for staying on despite having their data erased.