Making games is a creative process. And like any creative process, trying to formalize it or shove it into the framework of some rules is completely pointless.
The following rules are best understood as a set of recommendations, as dangerous places when creating free-to-play games, but not as a set of dogmas from which one cannot deviate. Professionals give some advice on how to create a mobile game.
Fun to play
Good rule in mobile game development, but fun is subjective and difficult to define. I would suggest quantifying the “fun”, for example, using the Retention metrics and the number of sessions per user per day.
Another important aspect of hilarity is that what is fun for some is not necessarily fun for others.
Therefore, it is perfectly acceptable to create a game that is not fun for everyone but your target user segment.
The player should be able to do something cool and satisfying in the game in a few minutes.
The authors call this rule the starbucks test. Will the person have time to play your game while they are making coffee in Starbucks?
One of the key features of mobile games is that people play them in different places: on the road, in line, during breaks at work.
If, in order to enjoy your game, you need to set aside a significant amount of time, if you cannot play it for a couple of minutes and exit, then you limit the consumption potential of your product.
Your game should have a short catchy cycle, which will be the center of the game (planted – collected in farms, launched a match – saw the result in managers, played a level in match3 games).
At the same time, the game should also have longer cycles, which last for hours and days. They give the first basic cycle meaning, give the player a long-term goal.
In essence, the basic short loop represents the gameplay of your game. Long loops mean what I called the game structure in my article on mobile game monetization.
Both basic and long loops are very important in free-to-play play, they should naturally fit together and complement each other. A problem at any of the levels is likely to ruin the game.
Creative and Stunning UX/UI
Reward casual players for launching the game, while give advanced players something to keep them busy. You want a game that is easy to play, but that has depth and complexity hidden in that depth.
The difficulty in creating free-to-play games is that the game must be both very accessible and deep enough to keep the player in it for a long time.
Accessibility and simplicity are not synonymous in this case. Having made the game very simple, it is difficult to keep users in it for any length of time.
When a person has nothing more to learn in the game, when the game does not reveal anything new for him, he becomes bored and leaves.
On the other hand, by making the game difficult, there is a great chance of losing a large proportion of users at the very start.
Ideally, the game should be very accessible, consisting of simple, straightforward, familiar mechanics that are easy to teach the player.
But the further the player advances, the more depth he must find in the game.
The game should get harder, not because the rules get more complicated, but because the depth of the basic mechanics is opening up.
For example, the rules of chess are quite simple.
You can quickly master them if you wish. But at the same time, the game has tremendous depth due to the variety of possible tactics. And it is this depth that gives almost endless potential for development in the game.
Make the Storyline Addictive
If your game has an end, then the users whom you attracted, then involved, and then kept in the game, will simply leave at some point, since they will have nothing else to do in the game.
At this point, your users will have invested time in your game, and some of them have invested money in your game, so the end of the game will be just as undesirable for them as it is for you (after all, a departed user will no longer benefit you).
Therefore, when designing a free-to-play game, make sure that it never ends.
Think in advance about how you will ensure the infinity of the game, which will keep the user in the game after a month, 6 months, a year.