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Three Steps towards Creating an Addictive Mobile Game
by Karren Williams on 04/19/17 09:28:00 am

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.

 

Game apps constitute an overwhelming majority of all apps out there. Yet all of them differ in terms of targeting the particular players. Some are interesting to play for a week and that’s all. Some are played only once and then neglected, while to others you return again and again. What makes those games so addictive?

In fact, there are so many points to consider that it is almost impossible to distinguish one win-win option that makes gamers come back over and over. If you still cannot figure out what magic feature engages gamers, there is no need to worry. There is no guarantee that your game will not be forgotten immediately after the launch. However, there are things that may improve your chances to be noticed and make your game stand out among other alternatives.

The Mechanics

Any game has its own essentials. Is it possible to download and play a game no matter the type of a gadget? How steep is the learning curve? Does playing require access to the Internet? Is it user-friendly? Without these features, you can hardly hope to get your players hooked on your game.

When you have all that, look at what players actually do in your game. Some popular games allow playing in any linear direction neglecting certain strategic movements. Their goal is exploration and discovery. A player does not have to reach a certain level, a certain number of points or something like that in order to move on. Freedom is one of the things players appreciate the most about the games. (Side note: that is exactly what makes open-world games so compelling.)

Another option is simple mechanics, like the one that original Angry Birds title has. The difficulty increases with the transition from one level to another, building up the tension and putting players into the flow state. The game is notoriously addictive, causing parents to plow through tons of reviews to find parental controls that will block the wretched app on their kids' devices. (So they could spend hours playing it themselves.)

There are basic elements that make the game fun, and they remain unchanged through the years because the nature of fun is permanent for humans. Play the games you used to be addicted to in the past and try to elicit “the essence of fun” – the core elements that made the game compelling and that you can implement in your own game.

The Story

Some games require a storyline, others do not. In pop-culture based games that involve beloved characters from comic books, novels, and movies, some sort of story is the thing a player goes for in the first place. It adds depth and presents the value to the fans. So, this kind of a game definitely needs some plot twists and character development. Others, like Subway Surfers or Candy Crush, are simply time-killers without any special purpose, so there is no need to complicate it with a story.

However, before you decide to invest time in a ramified story, check with the preferences of your target audience. With your target players in mind, you will be able to create a game that will meet their requirements and that will be the best possible solution. If your audience expects heavy fights with a variety of enemies, there is no need to create a deep character that will spit out Shakespearian monologs. However, if they crave the immersive experience and meaningful choices, then create thrill-a-minute plot to keep them interested. The main purpose of any tweak is the satisfaction of your audience.
If you making a game based on the beloved characters you'd better have a good story to tell

The Launch

There are situations when the team of developers tries to polish the game to perfection. But when the moment comes to push the launch of the game you should be ready to upload it to Google Play or the App Store faster than your competitors. If you see that your game is a new dawn in the industry then do not hesitate to launch it. Most likely, gamers will excuse you some bugs that you can fix later.

Nearly a half of Americans play games on smartphone or tablet every day, so there is a possibility that your app will reach the most of them. Imagine how large your target audience may be. Do not miss your chance to carve out a new niche in the gaming market.


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