Jewels with Buddies - First Time User Experience Analysis


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AC+A has prepared this analysis of the first time user experience in Jewels with Buddies (iOS) in order to highlight selected strengths (and some weaknesses) of the design of this title.

AC+A is a social and mobile game design consultancy. A key part of our expertise comes from staying current with new releases on Facebook, iPhone, iPad, and Android and analyzing best practices in the field.

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Jewels with Buddies - First Time User Experience Analysis

  1. 1. Jewels with BuddiesFirst Time User Experience Analysis
  2. 2. Who is AC+A? ›  Socialand mobile game design consultancy ›  Founded by Adrian Crook, 17 year industry vet ›  Associates specialize in: ›  AEM-focused design – systems to narrative ›  Product Management (metrics, best practices) ›  Product Marketing Management (paid acq) ›  Tactical programming (client implementations) ›  More info: www.adriancrook.comAdrian Crook & Associates 2
  3. 3. Intro: Jewels with Buddies •  Genre: Match-3 •  Released: July 10, 2012 •  Avg Rating: 5 stars •  Developer: Stofle Designs •  Publisher: Scopely Inc. •  Multiplayer via Facebook & Username (no Game Center) •  Other notable titles: •  Dice with Buddies •  Checkers with BuddiesAdrian Crook & Associates
  4. 4. Login •  Facebook login is most prominent as this is what the developer would most prefer people use •  That said, the option to sign up without using a Facebook account is key – frequently 40% of a game’s DAUs come from non-FB users •  Finally, the note about not posting to your wall without a user’s permission addresses a key phobia among FB game players, re-assuring them they can use this method to play, without riskAdrian Crook & Associates
  5. 5. Account Creation •  Very simply sign-up procedure, only getting the bare minimum info required, deferring further user data until post-signup •  “WithBuddies™” account is cross- SKU and can be used in Dice with Buddies and Checkers with Buddies. The user is not scared off as they would be if they were asked to join a separate online service altogether because “WithBuddies” appears to be just for this app, unless the user reads more closely. •  Zynga does the same using theirAdrian Crook & Associates “With Friends” network.
  6. 6. Facebook Auth •  Jewels with Buddies asks for about as many permissions as an app can before diving into extended permissions (and the required secondary dialog that hurts the funnel). •  “Post on my behalf” is used for Open Graph.Adrian Crook & Associates
  7. 7. TutorialAdrian Crook & Associates
  8. 8. Automatic Pairing, Part 1 •  Immediately upon completion of the tutorial, the player has an incoming game request from a stranger. •  The player flows right into this game, as it is their turn, so they are immediately in a game with someone else and provided with a reason to return. •  Being invited to a game also helps the player overcome any fears of inviting others to play with them in the future.Adrian Crook & Associates
  9. 9. Automatic Pairing, Part 2 •  As soon as the player has completed their first turn in their first game, another random player invites them to a game! This gets the player in the habit of playing multiple games at once while they wait for their opponents. •  It’s much better for the app to use two random games as the initial matches instead of games with the player’s friends. •  This is because the app can then ensure the player gets matched with an active opponent and not a potentially lapsed friend.Adrian Crook & Associates
  10. 10. User-Created Game Funnel •  With the booster rockets of two games now underway with random opponents, the player is now shown how to start a game of their own choosing. •  Note: Orange arrow is in-game art, not my own indication.Adrian Crook & Associates
  11. 11. User-Created Game Funnel •  Taking no chances, the app walks the player right through the suggested new game creation process.Adrian Crook & Associates
  12. 12. User-Created Game Funnel •  The app suggests starting a game with a random opponent by default. •  This is most likely to ensure the new player is matched up with an opponent who is not “stale”. I.e. the app finds a player with a recently opened random game and/or a track record of recent activity/fast turnaround on rounds. •  The wording below this dialog supports as much, as “start a game with an online opponent” implies that random opponents are ready to play now.Adrian Crook & Associates
  13. 13. New Game Creation Menu •  Rematch is a great option here. Frequently, good opponents players find via random games are hard to track down for future games. •  Providing an explicitly-named “Rematch” menu to house prior opponents (both friends and random) makes a lot of sense. •  Aside from that, we see the usual options for game creation. •  Username is vital to allow out of network player discovery and for those who don’t connect via FB.Adrian Crook & Associates
  14. 14. Invite Friends To App •  When a player selects a Facebook friend to invite to the app, a Wall-to-Wall method is used (posting on the invitee’s wall) to invite the player to play. •  Unfortunately, this method of initiating a game converts at a far lower rate than do user-to-user requests. •  Ideally, a user-to-user invite request should be sent here, redirecting to a landing page with App Store links to each SKU.Adrian Crook & Associates
  15. 15. Turn Requests •  Jewels with Buddies doesn’t appear to utilize the Facebook request channel (likely because it would be annoying to receive requests on FB desktop for a mobile-only game). •  Instead, the game using iOS requests, which are good but are often disabled by users (up to 70% of the time, by some reports). •  App should make use of email for turn or game notifications (it collects the permission) but doesn’t appear to.Adrian Crook & Associates
  16. 16. Rematch Menu Detail •  Alphabetized, not chronological. Might be worth having a chronological option, sorting from most recently played to least. •  List includes opponents with whom you’re currently playing. •  Lists what other With Buddies apps that opponent has installed, although it does not allow players to touch these icons to launch/ acquire the apps, which is a missed opportunity. •  Player is able to delete opponents from this list, a nice option.Adrian Crook & Associates
  17. 17. Store •  Fun visualization of coins available in store. •  $49.99 and $99.99 coin bundles occupy 50% of the screen real estate! •  Higher price points anchor players psychologically, rendering the $19.99 coin bundle (“Most Popular”) a seemingly reasonable choice.Adrian Crook & Associates
  18. 18. Main Games List Menu •  Suggested game to start always present when online. •  Facebook “Play With Friends” button present, even if the player is already signed in with FB. •  Twitter button publishes an auto- tweet that let’s friends know you’re playing. Only non-editable text in tweet is URL to app stores. •  Oddly, tweet does not include username, but includes game- specific hashtag.Adrian Crook & Associates
  19. 19. Settings Menu •  Player picture is pre-populated with player’s Facebook profile pic, provided player is logged in. Good UX touch, almost standard. by now in mobile apps. •  Players able to view and manage their blocked opponents list from Settings menu.Adrian Crook & Associates
  20. 20. Help and Support •  This is a web page, loaded when player clicks “Help” from Main menu. •  This allows the developer to update the help more often than would be possible via app update alone (which would require Apple cert every time, obviously). •  Wherever load time latency is not an issue, loading content dynamically may be preferable to building into the app. Especially usefully for promotional text, store items & prices, etc.Adrian Crook & Associates
  21. 21. Consumables •  App utilizes consumables purchased before each round. •  It’s clear to the player that there are more powerful power ups to be had (this one is 8/10) and a cap on the boost power per round (8/18) that they might only exploit by unlocking the other power up slot. •  If consumable is not used by the player in the round, the item(s) are used automatically near the end of the round, clearing them from player’s inventory. This is preferable to just deleting theAdrian Crook & Associates item.
  22. 22. Play More, Get More •  By starting another game, the player can unlock the second boost slot. •  Often extra consumable slots are monetized, but in this case the developer has chosen to trade engagement for monetization. •  The most obvious call to action on this screen is the Start a New Game button along the bottom. •  To avoid pressing this, the user must back out to the Main menu using the top left button. Undoubtedly, this results in lots ofAdrian Crook & Associates game starts.
  23. 23. Random Game Logic •  This iOS-style dialog is not just aesthetically out of place in a game that otherwise has great style… •  It’s questionable why the app couldn’t allow the player to initiate the random game, playing their own turn first. •  Allowing the player to go first, then pairing them up with a random player at some point during or after that process would keep the player engaged in the game rather than waiting for their wish to play to be fulfilled.Adrian Crook & Associates
  24. 24. Compulsion Loop Reinforcement •  In case the player forgot, the app reminds them why they’re here: play lots, earn coins, by power ups. Repeat. •  This screen appears as soon as the player crosses the 100 coin plateau (presuming they are not in the middle of gameplay).Adrian Crook & Associates
  25. 25. Slot Machine (Currency Sink) •  In the pre-round boost purchase screen, player can also use a slot machine multiple times to “win” 1-2 boosts for that round. •  Purpose of the slot machine is as a currency sink. •  Ideally, the payout and price are dynamically adjustable server side in response to how much trapped value there is the system. •  Should the developer need to burn off a certain amount of currency to reign in inflation, they can play with these variables.Adrian Crook & Associates
  26. 26. Game Summary Screen •  Primary options are Brag (FB Wall Post) and Rematch (play another game with same play) are both larger and closest to a user’s thumb position. •  If a user wishes to do neither, they have to reach their thumb clear across their device (assuming most are right-handed) to press the tiny x on the top left (non-standard!) corner of the dialog box. •  Little decisions like this add up and lead to more positive actions than opt-outs.Adrian Crook & Associates
  27. 27. Invite Friends for Coins •  The lower portion of these round summary screens is always given over to promotion messaging (i.e. start another game, invite friends, play a turn in another match, etc). •  Merely inviting 10 friends nets the player 100 coins, right away. Their friends do not need to install the app. •  Often games only reward coins upon invitee’s installation of app.Adrian Crook & Associates
  28. 28. Invite Friends for Coins •  Fantastically simple Invite Friends screen with meter on top indicating player’s progress toward the 100 coin goal. •  Invites being sent are EMAIL invites, not Facebook invites. This may be for two reasons: •  Avoid popping a Facebook API invite dialog that many players will shy away from. •  Accomplish the invite process silently – no confirmation dialog, just highlight player name and touch send. •  Provide a universal invite system that FB users and email-only users can both utilize.Adrian Crook & Associates •  Meter moves up with each invite.
  29. 29. Blurred Game Loops •  Player kept in the habit of closing open gameplay loops. •  Often player doesn’t make it back to main menu for several games due to presence of game selection option at bottom of round summary screen (good). •  Keep the player as close to the game loop as possible – kicking them back to main menu gives them a natural spot to exit the app (bad).Adrian Crook & Associates
  30. 30. Re-Engagement Tools •  iOS push notifications •  Open Graph •  Custom actions such as “beat” •  Slightly janky custom aggregation for “wins” •  No email seen yet •  No Facebook requestsAdrian Crook & Associates
  31. 31. Pros ›  Well polished FTUE with just the right level of tutorial, both in its own mode and in game 1 ›  Reliance on random (non-friend) matches to ensure high initial engagement ›  Blurred game loops avoid player returning to main menu unless absolutely necessary. ›  Willing to trade early currency acquisition and consumable slots for engagement and virality. ›  Compelling gameplay, fun boosts, and well- designed economical modelAdrian Crook & Associates
  32. 32. Cons ›  InvitingFacebook friends to app is done via Wall Post, not the higher-converting Request ›  Turn notifications are done via iOS notifications only, not FB requests or email ›  Could use Open Graph more robustly ›  No ability for players to install other WithBuddies apps from within this app ›  App’s tweet function doesn’t embed player’s username anywhere in tweetAdrian Crook & Associates 32
  33. 33. Get in touch with us! For more info on Adrian Crook & Associates: Web: Email: Twitter: @adriancrook We’re always accepting new social and mobile app design and product management clients.Adrian Crook & Associates 33