Two weeks ago, my team and I began working together on a passion project.
Project Overview: With online gaming becoming a viable means of establishing quality, long-distance friendships, there is also a lurking and uncensored community of hostile and abusive players. Currently, if you add a friend online, you have no information except for their gamertag and maybe one game they are currently playing.
There needs to be an application to find new online friends, with other interests in common, to help you screen the type of gamer you are instantly put into an online scenario with. Maybe it’s the age bracket of who you enjoy playing with, or their favorite band or book in their profile that makes you send them a Friend Request and sparks a new online friend?
With a user-verified rating system on other gamer’s experiences, building your personal gaming community just got that much easier and less intimidating. There is currently no application on the market that allows you to search for friends in this way to foster online co-op game play
Project Goals: To find out current habits and demographics of video gamers that play online. concerts tickets via mobile applications. Compare and contrast these behaviors to what they have in common while using other apps and brands they like. Examine preferred discovery methods of live music and concerts.
- $49.99 Annual Fee per Members
- 110 Million Members — (65 Million Active Monthly)
- Current Revenue:
65 Million x $4.17 per month = $270 Million Monthly
Increase Members by 10% to 71.5 Million Active Members
$28 Million per Month Increase
($298 Million per Month Total)
We began by looking into apps that were similar to our initial idea of what our app would accomplish. For our comparative analysis, we chose Hinge, Grindr, Twitter and Bumble — all of which are social apps. For our competitive analysis, we took a look at various social gaming platforms such as Raptr, Steam, GameTracker, Twitch, Pixwoo & PlayStation Network itself.
After doing some in-depth research, we were still not able to find an app that focused on what we wanted our app to do — matchmake similar players and build close online friendships to game with. We found some similar apps such as LFG (Looking for Group) but none of these were catering to one-on-one friendships.
User Survey & Synthesis
We came up with a survey as a group in which we asked questions involving demographics, behavior & player’s experiences around social gaming. Based on these results, we got some very valuable information. The word toxic kept seeming to come up — 54 times, to be exact. Yet interestingly enough, nearly half of the respondents indicated that they did have close online friends. Many respondents also indicated that the cyber bullying and toxicity in the gaming environment deterred them from playing them in the first place. For example, one user stated:
“Too many people playing online are sexist immature assholes. Every time I try it again, I regret it.”
From here, we moved on to conducting some in-depth interviews and began drafting a persona to encompass all of the information we gathered.
We used the metrics that we gathered from our survey and interview in order to craft three personas. Our primary persona, Johnny, is the overwhelming majority of gamers that we encountered through our survey. He is a frequent gamer and he plays to destress & relieve his depression. The other two personas, Shannon and Marc, were our secondary and tertiary personas to whom we referred to in some of our decisions, but did not necessarily focus on.
As a team, we came up with a long list of possible features to include in our app. From these, we narrowed down to the most essential and most enjoyable features that we could include. We put these on a graph on a scale of how essential each feature was for the app to function and how difficult it would be to add the feature. Of the 18 features, we cut out 4 that were not essential to the app. The features that we kept are the ones highlighted in blue.
We came up with a user flow that takes the user through making a profile, going through the match process and sending friend requests to other users, accepting a request and messaging a friend who is online.
Sketching & Ideating
We started off with a design studio session in which the three of us began throwing all of our ideas about how the app would look and function onto paper. Next we came up with a paper prototype and then we moved on to testing users with it.
Based on the feedback that we received from users about our paper prototype, we moved on to creating some wireframes and testing these. We found that users had what information they would put in the text fields and also weren’t sure how to match. This was clearly a big issue since that was the premise of our app.
Iteration 2 & 3
We began to make some higher fidelity screens and found that people really enjoyed using the app. The biggest issue that we came across as a team was figuring out how much our app should feel like a dating app. We didn’t want to drive our users away because they felt like they were matching with dates but we also wanted to keep the fun and addictive factor of dating apps. We finally agreed that we should scrap the “you have matched page” since this really made it feel like a dating app (the randomly generated pictures didn’t help either…). We also had a long discussion about whether we would use a check and x or swipe left/right. While we agreed that swiping left and right was fun, we agreed that the buttons were more effective.
We also changed it so that both users did not need to swipe on one another to become matched. Instead, it would be more of a friending type of feature. That is, adding a person through matchmaking would send them a request which they could then review. This raised a new question: what happens if users start getting spammed with hundreds of friend requests and what if these requests do not fit the type of gamers they are looking for.
To address this, we came up with the match settings. This allows users to set certain parameters about who they will or will not receive requests from. The public profile toggle allows users to temporarily disable their profile from being included in matches and makes it so that their friends are the only ones who can see their profiles. We also put age parameters — ages that you do and do not mind matching with, the option to only see gamers currently online and to filter by players that use a microphone.
The biggest next step that we have involves some kind of StackExchange rating system in which players build eachother’s reputations. This was part of our original idea but for the sake of time, we decided to focus on our MVP first. Another feature would be a group chat function. From many of the user tests we conducted, we found that users were frustrated due to a lack of messaging system directly linked to their gaming apps. Instead, they would have to add their team members to talk via platforms such as Skype, WhatsApp & other messaging apps. Lastly, we would need to hire some kind of moderator in order to review reported users and keep the community appropriate for gamers of all ages.