Gummy Pop — First time user experience (FTUE) design for a F2P game

Game mechanics and Tutorial and Gestalt law to the rescue

Despite the data targets set by Hashcube it was critical to understand that every game (application) is different and needs a different approach to convert the new users into a converted user. The success of FTUE was validated by conversions at each level.

A couple of challenges that confronted the conversion numbers the game suffered during the initial soft releases were:

1. CHALLENGES SPECIFIC TO GUMMY POP

A. FIRST CHALLENGE 
Explaining a complex & novel game mechanic to a relatively naive audience

Image 1 — 7 rules of the core-game mechanic

Below is a capture from the actual game and shows how the above 7 point chain reaction actually looks like

Image 2 — How the game looks like when played

and based on initial feedback from the game’s soft launch the complexity was way too overwhelming for the kind of audience we were targeting

Image 3 — People’s reaction when they played the game

Why so?

  1. Trying to explain all the 7 rules of the game mechanic in first level which is usually the norm for all F2P casual games
  2. The random regeneration (point 7 in the image 1) aspect of the game play was actually the innovation that made the originally hard core game play into a casual one. But it was also the distracting the players.
  3. Having an elaborate tutorial in the form of infographic or an explainer video or even an interactive demo to explain the mechanics proved to be unsustainable and only led to more drop offs

FTUE patterns of other successful puzzle games with F2P model

We did an extensive study of many successful F2P game (most of them had 1 or 2 primary game rule unlike Gummy Pop) and arrived and observed a common recurring pattern shown below

Common design pattern seen in all F2P games

Every game is different; So is Gummy Pop

The secret was to introduce the rules to the player’s psyche in layers. Not all the rules were explained to the players. Some were left for the players to “discover” which itself had a great value in terms of experience design. We chunked the rules into the following buckets

INTRO — Rules which need to be explicitly explained
REINFORCEMENT — Rules which were explained were to be reinforced in next
DISCOVERY — Rules which were left for the player to discover
Tailor made FTUE design for Gummy Pop

Above FTUE design worked and the conversion and waterfall numbers jumped up considerably, but that was more to FTUE design

B. SECOND CHALLENGE 
The visuals of the game board didn’t support an intuitive behaviour

  • TAP based interaction, against the commonly existing interaction pattern of all F2P games in the puzzle category which was SWIPE or SWAP
  • Unique game play that makes it’s board configuration’s look and feel strikingly similar to SWIPE or SWAP based match-3 games
Hence, we were trying an uphill task of “look like a match-3 ; play like mahjong” which meant the visuals of the game made the user to swipe or swap but it only resulted in disappointment to the player

SWIPE V TAP

2. GENERAL ISSUES COMMON TO ALL F2P GAMES

  • Very short window to impress the new user and convert them to a regular user.
  • Appeal to the casual gamer who needs seemingly hard challenge but not hard enough to lose interest.

First issue could only be optimised by various means such as data science & digital marketing.

Second issue was attacked with level design with this particular level (level 5) where the key was to give an “impression of challenge” rather than level actually being challenging, in order to appeal to both poor and average players.

This particular configuration achieves the intended IMPRESSION OF CHALLENGE WITHOUT ACTUALLY NO REAL CHALLENGE because irrespective of user’s actions, the user can never lose the level and will always be finishing the level in the last move!

LEVEL 5

Other method how we avoided the drop offs were by optimising the flow and avoiding sinks that takes the users away from desired flow

Snapshot of the Gummy Pop waterfalls and conversion numbers for version 0.46