Griffin
PokemonGo.jpg

Pokémon Go User Study

App Design, Game design, UX

Pokémon Go took the world by storm in the summer of 2016, with some trainers more invested in the game than others. As a lifelong trainer myself, I felt obligated to point out the issues plaguing the game's experience that would, ultimately, lead to the game's fall in popularity. Through experimentation, research, surveys, and user feedback, I designed resolutions to pain points and implementations of additional features that would help prolong the game's lifespan and retain its brilliant community. Several of these features have been either implemented or otherwise addressed since then, but the core values of the game still remain the same: this is a game about community and adventure.


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The game’s strongest point is its ability to bring people outdoors and is supported by its friendly community.

The game’s strongest point is its ability to bring people outdoors and is supported by its friendly community.

 There were three different types of players in  Pokémon Go :  New  players,  Casual  players, and  Invested  players. These players have different levels of attachment to the game and different expectations of what they want from the experience. It was important to evaluate if a player type was being excluded before making a decision.

There were three different types of players in Pokémon GoNew players, Casual players, and Invested players. These players have different levels of attachment to the game and different expectations of what they want from the experience. It was important to evaluate if a player type was being excluded before making a decision.

trading pokémon

trading pokémon

Trading was meant as a way to both bolster community involvement and interaction as well as reduce the frustration users felt when waiting and searching aimlessly for a Pokémon they were wanting. If you couldn't find something you were looking for, maybe another player did. By encouraging conversation in this way, users would passively build up a sense of community while advancing on their own Pokémon journey.

Making friends

Making friends

When users went out and played Pokémon Go, they would occasionally befriend other like-minded players on their adventures. Adding new friends on social media can take users out of the Pokémon Go experience, but additional security concerns come up when users start sharing information with new people over social media. Optional, nearby location sharing lets players decide to rendezvous naturally while they both happen be playing the game. And by using temporary friend codes in order to add users as friends, player privacy is kept under control.

 Following the removal of the radar's tracking feature from launch, players began falling away from the game. Across the board, players asked for this feature to return. In addition to re-enabling tracking, many New and Casual player interviews suggested that they were never clear on its purpose to begin with. As a result, the new tracking feature was designed to make Pokémon distances more obvious, as well as provide a more gratifying way of seeing what's immediately around the user.

Following the removal of the radar's tracking feature from launch, players began falling away from the game. Across the board, players asked for this feature to return. In addition to re-enabling tracking, many New and Casual player interviews suggested that they were never clear on its purpose to begin with. As a result, the new tracking feature was designed to make Pokémon distances more obvious, as well as provide a more gratifying way of seeing what's immediately around the user.

 Pokéstops, one of the major mechanics of the game, were also the cause of some player frustration. The game's design made it difficult to tell when the Stop was able to be interacted with again. In addition, certain types of colorblindness were unable to tell the color difference between an active and inactive PokéStop. By including a timer on used Stops and shifting colors to accommodate the color blind, PokéStops would be less frustrating for players to use.

Pokéstops, one of the major mechanics of the game, were also the cause of some player frustration. The game's design made it difficult to tell when the Stop was able to be interacted with again. In addition, certain types of colorblindness were unable to tell the color difference between an active and inactive PokéStop. By including a timer on used Stops and shifting colors to accommodate the color blind, PokéStops would be less frustrating for players to use.

 Gyms were confusing to New and even Casual players. The way to organize your combatant Pokémon was unclear and frustrating, lacked clear rewards or incentive, and left the Defender Bonus system completely hidden. By seeing what users were hoping to accomplish while using the application and listening to their frustration, adjustments were made that players of all skill levels were able to enjoy and benefit from.

Gyms were confusing to New and even Casual players. The way to organize your combatant Pokémon was unclear and frustrating, lacked clear rewards or incentive, and left the Defender Bonus system completely hidden. By seeing what users were hoping to accomplish while using the application and listening to their frustration, adjustments were made that players of all skill levels were able to enjoy and benefit from.

 Some parents expressed concern that their children would get lost while playing the game. While  Pokémon Go  is not a mapping application, it did bring up an opportunity for a nice quality of life and, for worried parents out there, safety feature. By tapping on an unused piece of the map, players are shown what street names are nearby. For those unfamiliar with the area or who might otherwise get lost, this feature would help encourage exploration and keep players a little safer.

Some parents expressed concern that their children would get lost while playing the game. While Pokémon Go is not a mapping application, it did bring up an opportunity for a nice quality of life and, for worried parents out there, safety feature. By tapping on an unused piece of the map, players are shown what street names are nearby. For those unfamiliar with the area or who might otherwise get lost, this feature would help encourage exploration and keep players a little safer.

 The onboarding process was a place where many potential users would be lost. The game let only users willing to share their Google account with the application play, unless they signed up for a Pokémon Center account which was both confusing and removed users from the app to do it. By letting users create a new  Pokémon Go  specific account to play the game from within the app, the bounce rate of New players would drop dramatically.

The onboarding process was a place where many potential users would be lost. The game let only users willing to share their Google account with the application play, unless they signed up for a Pokémon Center account which was both confusing and removed users from the app to do it. By letting users create a new Pokémon Go specific account to play the game from within the app, the bounce rate of New players would drop dramatically.

 Players would frequently be uncertain of how to use newly-gained items in the game. On numerous occasions, user interviews showed a misunderstanding of how things like Lucky Eggs or Razzberries would work - two important items in their arsenal. While part of the game's charm  is  its hands-off approach, users should be gracefully informed of new items' uses once they're acquired for the first time. As a result, this simple interstitial would congratulate and inform users of newly unlocked items to use, helping reduce widely-held player confusion.

Players would frequently be uncertain of how to use newly-gained items in the game. On numerous occasions, user interviews showed a misunderstanding of how things like Lucky Eggs or Razzberries would work - two important items in their arsenal. While part of the game's charm is its hands-off approach, users should be gracefully informed of new items' uses once they're acquired for the first time. As a result, this simple interstitial would congratulate and inform users of newly unlocked items to use, helping reduce widely-held player confusion.

 The Main Menu was another area of the design that needed to be addressed to help with the onboarding process of New players. Upon first entering the experience, players unfamiliar with the game and content would tap everything  but  the Menu button, as its function was very unclear. By using more traditionally accepted iconography that echoes the design of the opened Menu's buttons, users were more able to immediately explore features and options in the game.

The Main Menu was another area of the design that needed to be addressed to help with the onboarding process of New players. Upon first entering the experience, players unfamiliar with the game and content would tap everything but the Menu button, as its function was very unclear. By using more traditionally accepted iconography that echoes the design of the opened Menu's buttons, users were more able to immediately explore features and options in the game.

Userflows

Userflows

In order to support the idea of two newly proposed features, Trading and Friends Lists, I needed to offer userflows showcasing potential dead ends and user frustrations. By doing that, even without supporting descriptions, the new features' intentions were clear.

A new app-map

A new app-map

In addition to creating new features, I encountered a few pain points where users would expect a link to another section of the application where none existed. As a result, drawing out the new map of the application's features and interconnections was a useful tool in organizing and troubleshooting usability.