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What are the factors that affect the feeling of appealing features of a game for new players?

How to boost a game's appeal to players at the beginning stage? To solve this problem, it is necessary to understand what factors, exactly, affect the feeling of appealing features of the game for new players.

Yongcheng Liu, Blogger

April 12, 2022

7 Min Read

In recent years, new games have sprung up in the game industry, and the gameplay and appearance have become more and more revolutionary, making many players feel a bit lost in the numerous new games. In addition, due to the influence of other media and entertainment content, the game experience of many players also tends to be fragmented, and the short and efficient pre-game experience will largely affect their willingness to continue to play. This has led many game developers to place greater emphasis on boosting the appealing features of the game at the beginning, which can be just the first 10-30 minutes of the player experience.

So, how to enhance the appeal of the game to players during the beginning part of the gaming experience? To solve this problem, we need to understand what factors affect the perceived appeal of the game for new players. In this article, I have summarized some of the factors that we have learned from the previous new player tests that affect the perception of appealing features, and we hope to bring you some inspiration.

Factor 1: Whether the games match the player's preferences

Whether the game accurately matches the preference is the most important factor affecting the perceived appeal of the game for new players. If players themselves are not core or potential users of the corresponding game category, gameplay or art style, then we will lose these users in the early stages. As one player in one test explained why the game did not appeal to him.

Without any reason, it is just unattractive to me. Maybe for targeted players, this game can be more attractive.”

To address the problem that players may lose interest in the beginning due to the game's inability to match with player preferences, different strategies can be adopted for games at different development stages to positively influence the players' evaluation of the game. For example, for games under development in the early stages and in the closed beta test, it is necessary to confirm in advance which types of players are suitable to participate in the test. Generally speaking, when discussing with the production team and designing tests, as user researchers, we can help the developers identify possible core and potential players by performing playtests and conducting competitive analysis. Take a test for simulation game as a specific example, in order to examine the difference in the game's appeal to players with different game preferences, we finally divided the players who participated in the test into two major categories: 1) simulation game players, who were considered to be more suitable for the needs in this test, so they were seen as core players; 2) potential casual game players, although they did not necessarily have simulation game experience, their experience in other casual games also allows them to provide suggestions for the overall design of this simulation game, so they can be identified as potential players.

In the test, the players who played My Time At Portia are seen as core players

For games that have been in an open test or even officially launched, the player group is extremely large, and their game preferences are more diverse and complex than those in a closed beta test. At this time, taking the initiative to highlight the features of our game in the promotion and using specific labels to introduce the game can help players quickly identify what is potentially appealing to them and help developers attract the possible core players at the early stage after launching.

Most app stores and game review platforms have developed sorting and labeling functions, the above picture shows the labels of Dream Chaser : the Showbiz in Huawei App Store and TapTap.

In addition to gameplay preferences, game developers also need to pay attention to the possible preferences of players in terms of the game's art style, world setting, plot design, music and voice acting, and other forms of appearances. It requires game developers and researchers to pay attention to the possible differences in needs of players with different hobbies and interests outside the game. For example, when doing a survey for Justice Online, the researcher needs to systematically investigate the preferences of the possible players of the Chinese Wuxia games, in terms of art style, world setting, and plot, etc. At this time, it is necessary to divide the player groups into more detailed and in-depth research: how do history lovers see the game? What kind of additional requirements do Han Chinese clothing lovers have for the costume design of the characters? This all requires specific and in-depth user research.

Costume in Justice Online

Factor 2: Highlight features for players to discover in the early stages

If the target users have been identified, then the highlight features of gameplay in the early stage become another important factor affecting the perception of appeal to new players. Here we need to pay attention to the following factors: 1) Considering mobile games, players' game experience length is much shorter, the form and content of beginner tutorials of similar games are more and more convergent, the quantity and quality of mobile games are rapidly improving, and players' requirements for the game are significantly raised. So the highlight features of gameplay should be highlighted for players to experience at the beginning of a game. The beginning, here, can be defined as a tutorial, or a part of a formal game, but the length needs to be shortened to within maybe the first 30 minutes as much as possible. For example, in one test, the test game focuses on the MMO gameplay, and after the first 15 minutes of the tutorial, two test players gave different comments on the appeal of the game in the early stage.

It took a long time for me to notice there is an opponent, which made me a little bit disappointed. ”——MOBA player

As a player who usually plays with friends, this game cannot attract me. It seems that I can just play against someone. There is no introduction that I can play with friends in this game.”——social game players

In fact, does the game fail to meet the needs of these two players? Obviously not. The problem is that in the 15-minute tutorial, the game only shows the basic rules and does not highlight its possible competitive and social attributes, which will largely affect the judgment of some new players on the attractiveness of the game.

While showing the highlight features of the gameplay, we should try to avoid problems that may hinder players' perception of the appeal of the game, including but not limited to players' possible control problems, doubts related to the rules of play, etc. For example, in the UNO mobile game, there are some players complaining that the relatively basic rules of questioning have not been explained clearly, which makes many players who are new to UNO have no idea when and how to question other players or maybe questioned for not shouting UNO and they don't even know why. The lack of understanding of the relevant rules often hinders players in discovering the highlight features of the game, ultimately affecting their in-depth experience and overall evaluation.

In the former version tutorial of UNO mobile, there is actually a small hammer for questioning others not shouting UNO, but the lack of direct guidance makes players neglect it or do not fully understand the relevant rules, thus causing the problem in their gaming experience.

So, in this stage, user researchers need to design and conduct a series of usability tests to help the development team troubleshoot and modify the problems. Generally speaking, in the usability test we will invite a certain number of players with relevant game experience to play the game, and the testers will record various problems during the players' experience in the form of observation, questionnaires, interviews, and so on. On the basis of categorizing the problems as well as evaluating the importance of them, the usability testers will make a list of problems, which will be helpful for the development team's further improvement.

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