How to create a successful mobile game. Part 2

Sergei Terekhov

Written by Sergei Terekhov | Thursday, 13 March 2014

My dear readers, I hope, you’ve enjoyed the first part of my article “How to create a successful mobile game” and found useful hints there. Today, I’m going to tell you about some tricks to make users addicted to your mobile game - in the finest sense of the word, of course.

1. Motivate users to play with stick and carrot policy.
Award user not only for success in the mobile game but also for its regular “visiting”. Every time the user enters the game he may get some bonuses (e.g. useful resources). The point here is that accumulation of these items should occur not automatically every day but only at the moment of game visiting. So, no visits – no resources. These rules are applied in the popular service for studying English “Lingua Leo” where the user gets “meatballs” that are necessary for learning new words, reading new texts etc.

That was the policy of “carrot”. Now, let’s consider the policy of “stick”. Let the user feel negative consequences of neglecting your mobile game. Do you remember the “Tamagochi” game that was popular in the 90-th? Its sense was in looking after a small virtual pet. If you forgot about it for a couple of days, didn’t feed it or play with it, the pet died. L Implement the same principle in your mobile game! In that way, you make the game world more real, too. If the garden is not watered, it withers. If the skills of a game character aren’t developed, they regress.
Try to combine both tactics, but be careful and don’t go too far. Do you remember short game sessions? That’s why the amount of efforts, which a user has to make to support his game progress, should be reasonable.
2. Hide an unexpectedness feature in the mobile game.
With a couple of “Easter eggs”, you can make users believe that wonders happen. Some nice surprises like buried treasures or bonus mini games please users and increase their involvement. But be careful with negative surprises! It happened to me a couple of times that I accidentally lost the whole game progress because of meeting a bad character or choosing a wrong door etc. In the most cases, I was very angry and completely demotivated and uninstalled the game out of hand. The moral of this story is that users’ game success can be sudden but users’ failure should always be well-founded (e.g. because of losing a battle or long disregard of playing the game).

3. Make your mobile game social.
All advantages of integrating social features into a mobile application I’ve described in a separate blog post. As for mobile games, they are perfect places for communication with friends, building communities and making contests. In a multiplayer game, users have perfect opportunities for interacting and helping each other in a funny and easy way.

However, it’s another point where mobile game developers should be very careful. Very often, my whole Facebook wall was strewed with messages from my friend asking to help them with resources in various games. If I got 2-3 requests, it was OK. But 10-15 messages a day became a problem. So, what do you think – where is the boundary between “entertaining” and “annoying”? How to create a social multiplayer game that wouldn’t pester users?
Another disputable issue is the balance between quality of the game and its short time to market. Imagine that you as mobile software developers have $10 000 dollar and should invest them in mobile gamed during one year. You have two options:

1. Investing the whole money into one single game, working hard on its unique design, music, interface etc. and releasing the game at the end of the year. Then, stressed waiting until your game pays for itself.

2. Developing 10 simple games of the same type and releasing them during the year. Then, (not so stressed) waiting until at least 1 of 10 games pays for itself.

What would you choose – quality or speed? It is hard to find mobile software development company with balanced Quality/Speed/Cost.

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