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When it comes to UI, what's in a name?

In Gamasutra's latest feature independent iOS developer Jeremy Alessi explains how the mere shuffling of some menu elements caused a major leap in players trying out
In Gamasutra's latest feature independent iOS developer Jeremy Alessi explains how the mere shuffling of some menu elements caused a major leap in players trying out his game's multiplayer function. He and his collaborators recently released a game called friendly.fire to the iOS App Store. Though the game is intended for Words With Friends-style asynchronous multiplayer, he found that a troublingly small percentage of the audience actually used the option. "Initially, we put our "Pass 'N Play" option first, followed by a 'Play Online' button. The reasoning (however boneheaded) was that 'Play Online' was a more complex option," he writes. "In truth, though, the Pass 'N Play' game mode is really not what the game is about. Furthermore the word 'Online' can sound intimidating. So, with our latest release we reversed the order of the buttons and also renamed the 'Play Online' button to 'Play with a Friend'." What was the result of this tweak? "This nearly tripled the percentage of players who chose to register and take part in the mobile-to-mobile gameplay. The initial button combination resulted in 4.8 percent of players registering to play 'Online'. By changing the language and button position we jumped to 13 percent," he writes. "These tiny metrics prove without a doubt that the devil is in the details. Our options were exactly the same, and our language was crystal clear initially, but changing the order of our options and making the language more 'friendly' but simultaneously more vague netted us a huge gain. As a result, we saw a 50 percent increase in the size of our player pool in three days." The full feature -- the first in a series that will look at the evolution of this game as Alessi and team continue to try to improve it and find greater success on the App Store -- is live now on Gamasutra.

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