Analyzed Games (Mostly focused on Critical Strike):
- Critical Strike (from Vertigo Games)
- Gods of Boom (from Game Insight)
- Call of Duty Mobile (from -developer- Tencent Games and -its subdiary- Timi Studios)
- Modern Ops (from Edkon Games)
- Modern Strike Online (from Azur Games)
Below is my case study with some general approach. Questions are given by Vertigo Games. There are several topics discussed and analyzed, such as:
- First time user experience
- Tutorial flow
- Potential causes increasing Churn rate
- Which data is needed to analysis
- Several A/B testing options
- Things showing game succeeded or failed
I hope you like to read it.
Vertigo Product Manager Demo
1- Prepare a case study to analyze first time user experience of Critical Strike and 4 competitor games – Gods of Boom, Modern Ops, COD Mobile, Modern Strike Online First time user experience includes but not only tutorial flow, anything you see as a significant difference. For example; general flow, story, ui, visual effects, particle details, animation quality, core loop explanation etc. How would you improve these games? Which features would you improve/create?
1a. Critical Strike:
1a-a. After tutorial, before starting real match; we can write our name. This way, player can feel more personalized experience when s/he kills enemy.
1a-b. I would change endgame style of game. Game suddenly stops at the end of match. Instead, it can slowly stop. And at the phase of chest opening, background can be blurred. Chest at the top of game scene seem sketchy placed on the screen.
1a-c. There is an inconsistency in terms of art. For example, two buttons below seem to have different styles which breaks consistency of art.
And this red “0” in card have totally different style. Red is not mostly used color of text in your game. I would also change text type and bar type of game. They seem like basic types and need to be polished.
1a-d. I think story is the big problem of that kind of games. We cannot see any specific story in game. However, we can sense the old good nostalgic feeling of Counter Strike.
1a-e. There are no daily log-in prizes. Adding this can be huge impact on players’ returns to game.
1a-f. Using grenade could be very good update for the game.
1b. Gods of Boom:
1b-a. Gods of Boom welcomes us with cartoonish style. We can think this like difference between League of Legends and Dota. These art styles have different audiences, and one of them is not superior to other.
1b-b. Given damage is shown to us, which makes us feel the game more:
1b-c. I liked the schedule idea. Showing upcoming events can have huge impacts on returns.
1c. Call of Duty Mobile
1c-a. Loading and starting screens of COD Mobile has dynamic effects: particles, gun fires, explosion… This live background has lovely impact on players.
1c-b. Tutorial section includes battle with bots. This is better feature comparing with Critical Strike.
1c-c. Final Killcam is very good feature of this game. People love to say “look what I have done!”. This is one of the best ways of showing what s/he has done.
1c-d. Animated characters on victory scene is a good idea for making the scene more alive:
1d. Modern Ops
1d-a. Killcam is a good feature to increase players’ passion. It can create the effect of “look at this noob. How can s/he kill me?! I will show her/him”.
1d-b. I think we are left on our own too early. Tutorial lasts only one match. Game should lead us more: such as how to access market, do weapons have enchantments, etc.
1e. Modern Strike Online
1e-a. I liked the idea of companies accompanying us. However, it could have been better if they tell us and lead the way instead of guiding writings out of nowhere.
1e-b. Tutorial end suddenly. Why hurry so much? ? We can’t even see exploding dummies -if they are-.
1e-b. I saw this example in Critical Strike too: female holding gun. I accept that using femininity in military theme is popular, but -in my opinion- it seems as cheap and irrelevant concept.
1e-c. Using tips on loading screen is a popular and good choice to follow.
1e-d. Using blood effect is a good way to give a feeling of “you are in trouble”.
1e-e. Button style and text style below look so amateurish and sketchy.
1e-f. Skills are a good way to give players an opportunity to customize their characters.
1e-g. I should point that I didn’t like indicator. Using arrows and circles together is a bad way that makes it looks messy.
2- We are trying to understand the churn patterns in a realtime PvP game. (You can check our game Critical Strike for a similar example). The simple question is: Why do people stop playing our game?
2- Before diving into sub-questions, I can say that one of the most important factor forcing players to stop playing is pay-to-win type games. If the game is PvP, we can see effect of this factor more common.
a. What would be the data that you would need in order to do the analysis? Why would you need them?
a-1. At which level players decide to give up more likely?
a-2. Which maps players tend to complete more from starting to finish?
a-3. Which weapons, gears etc. that enemies of player (who quits playing) hold?
b. Can you briefly describe how you would progress with the data? What list of things would you particularly look at to understand the churn patterns of once-active users?
b-1. I don’t know your matchmaking style, but I make inferences assuming you do with players’ levels. In this manner, levels of players are so important here; since this can mean the higher level of players can give up playing because of unjust weapon features, pay-to-win features, monotonous game events.
b-2. Fun of maps are also important for this subject. Some maps can be designed in an unjust way that gives some team more advantage than others. Some maps simply may not be enough fun to play, so players just get bored and quit.
b-3. I realized that -talking not specific for Critical Strike- some skills, weapons, anything opponents can use may be too overwhelming that you cannot play and don’t have fun being matched with this enemy. We can collect these data to analyze and come up with theory about equipment or abilities.
3- A/B Testing is an increasingly popular method in free-to-play online gaming. Can you list out several suggestions for A/B Testing for Critical Strike?
3-a. Extend or shorten tutorial duration at the beginning. How new players respond these changes? Can tutorial period be too short?
3-b. Change tutorial style. For example, change targets with real enemy bots. Can this be more fun for players?
3-c. Do players change their nickname too late? We start real match but we don’t have our customized nicknames. Do players feel less ownership of their characters at the just starting of the game? I mean who the heck Player-1DC? ?
3-d. How much does match last? Is it long, or short? We can change the length or kill amounts that is needed to win the match; to see how players respond to these changes. Or we can even create a game mod with less time limit and kill target and call it as “Quick Combat”. How many players choose this mode instead of classical gameplay?
3-e. We can change market items’ features. Do players buy new type of chest more? We also show players some discount opportunities in market. For example, we can make Black Friday discounts in game store.
3-f. When players react positively to pop-up ads like below? Do players choose to buy after 20 minutes of gameplay? Do players above level of 20 like “x-type advertisement” more?
4- If you could have created any existing mobile game, which one do you wish you had created and why?
4- I wish I had created “Auto Chess” or any game in this kind. Using characters from real time PvP games (for example Dota 2) in turn based strategy game (like classical chess) is a brilliant idea, in my opinion.
5- What do you think makes a game succeed or fail?
5- Beside company goals, I can say that long play times and increasing number of returns are two important factors to criticize game’s success. Highest download rates like 10-50 or even 100 millions do not show anything but good advertisement. The real struggle is keeping your players happy and agreed with long play times; and convincing them to re-play the game.