Why UX and UI are Important in Game Development
In addition to an appealing storyline and sticky mechanics, user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) are two key elements game developers obsess over to make a game successful. UX/UI are important skills for game developers to have, and without these, the game will be deleted fast. Unintuitive interfaces and poor responsive interaction is an immediate turn-off no matter how good your graphics or what celeb you have endorsing it.
Clash Royale, Pokemon Go, Hearthstone, and No Man’s Sky are video games with similar traits which have led to their success; they all have a well-balanced UX and UI. A balanced UX/UI design provides your users with a comfortable experience while they are in your game, allowing them to be more engaged in the game play for longer periods instead of adapting to messy controls and learning cumbersome interfaces. This also entices more people to play and endorse your game, increasing your user loyalty, retention rates, and ultimately the LTV.
It is obvious that UX and UI are an important tandem for the success of a game. However, if you're just starting out, or aspiring to become a game designer, how is UI and UX individually significant?
User Experience Design
The purpose of having a UX design is to be able to enhance the customer satisfaction and loyalty by improving the usability, the ease of use provided by the interaction between the user and the game. User experience incorporates all aspects of the end user interaction with the video game. The game becomes more entertaining when users enjoy their interactions with the game; though, not all games require the same UX needs. Depending on the game specification, the UX designers conduct research to determine the requirements best suited for each game. Ok that’s a lot of overview talk but what does it actually mean. Let’s say you're aiming for a casual game, you're targeting guys on their lunch break, or commuting to work. Then my UX has to take that persona into consideration. I can't (and don't want to) play a 20 minute multiplayer online battle whilst trying to eat lunch or jump from bus to train, and get to work on time. Can I easily grasp the controls, and maneuver my vehicle with one hand whilst on the train during rush hour.
User interface implicates the look and feels of the game. The primary job of a UI designer is to focus on the game’s graphic design and the psychology of the buyer persona. UI design in games differs from other UI designs because of the other element of fiction. For example, fiction can involve creating an avatar of the actual player to control. The player turns into an invisible but essential factor of the game. There are different ways UI designers allow the player to become immersed in the game, from a narrative perspective to a full first person POV.
There is also the intuitive nature of the interface itself. How many buttons, what do they all do, is it easy to navigate, do I understand the icons and play to universal facts such as, a ‘Gear Icon’ - means settings, green will always be good and red will always be bad.
Clash Royale and Hearthstone are two popular mobile games with well made and balanced UI/UX designs featuring their simple but direct usability, accessibility, and style, highlighting important information when needed, which makes it more digestible to the players. Their balanced, simple, and clean designs have contributed to their success.
Despite their different functions, one can not exist without the other, and having a balanced user interface and user experience will produce a well-made game that encourages more gamers to try your game and will eventually help you earn loyal players, which means more profit from a business perspective. UI/UX are often misunderstood as simply ways to make the game look pretty. Planning needs to start with the buyer's journey. Who are they, how are they going to play, where, when, how much time do they have, what retention do you want from them. My advice would be not to get hung up on building the game you want. Take the idea you want, sure, but then build it around the people who will be playing it, that way you UI and UX will be vastly more successful.