What does the "user experience" mean

May 15, 2009

When I get to the game I love it... but how hard is it for the user to get there in the first place?

As we take steps into a world where the digital download is the preferred method of video game distribution, the method becomes very important. I recently mentioned in a post about a download that wanted to take 9 days, of course that's ridiculous. I don't think we need to have just ONE system, but whatever the number of systems, they need to be under 5 clicks, and 3 is a sweet spot.

That basically means, 3 clicks, and 2 screens. I will admit here, I have never used Steam so I can't make any comment other than I have heard its a very good and clean system. I hope one of my readers will comment with details about Steam.

The "user experience" starts when they decide to buy your product, regardless if it will be downloaded or comes in the box.

I have seen some focus, rightfully, on the product but I have also seen to little focus on the delivery system. If you make it hard to get your product, then you'll scare away so many customers that your product will suffer before its seen. At Broderbund my boss there explained to me that they created some really good game affects starting at level 50... and realized that the game was so hard that only 1% of their customers ever saw all the effort they put into it. This same problem applies to digital distribution.

One of the products I worked on had a fixed ship date that the developer wasn't able to hit. The date moved around on them and there was some feature creep so it wasn't a developer failure at all. As the Senior Producer on the product it was up to me to offer solutions. We added "Updates" button to the main product screen. When the player pressed the button, the product looked for an update, verified that the player wanted it, if a "yes" was the answer then it would download and install it, and rerun itself. One button update bought us weeks of dev time. Had it merely loaded a web page and then started a long trail of downloading and saving files, we would have lost customers.

Think about the stumbling blocks between you and the player enjoying the product. How many of those can you eliminate?

Your thoughts?