Comment & Opinion

12 ways developers kill their games

Spil Games' Scott Johnston gives you good advice

12 ways developers kill their games

Scott Johnston is head of global PR at Spil Games

We see a lot of developers' dreams here at Spil Games, and we're assessing many more at the moment, as entries for the Unsung Heroes Competition flood in.

But too many developers are killing their own games because they're missing some simple tricks.

Most of these techniques boil down to having a better insight into what users are thinking and doing. 90% of the issues we come across are symptoms of insufficient play testing.

A dozen learnings

Based on some (only some) of the games we've reviewed recently, here are 12 ways we think developers can better ensure their games are ready to market.

  • 1) Great games make sure players can restart a level quickly, without having to go through multiple menus.

  • 2) Game players get bored easily so there constantly needs to be new features. It's about game pacing: if there is a cool feature in level 16 but nothing new before that, then players will lose interest before they get there.

  • 3) Too many games prioritize graphics over sound and that can kill the overall player experience.

  • 4) Players are happier when they feel they are progressing. A simple progress bar or world map will go a long way.

  • 5) There are a lot of devices out there and players get sulky if a game isn't working perfectly on theirs. Although it's a pain for their developers, all the best games go through extensive testing.

  • 6) Simple game mechanics often work best. If a player can be absorbed in a game while standing on the train and using only one finger or thumb, that's a good indication a game will work well for everyone.

  • 7) The best graphics and fonts look cool but they also have a consistency that helps players find their way around the game quickly.

  • 8) First impressions matter, so tutorials should be as much fun as the game.

  • 9) The best games judge their look and feel just right. So 1987 is cool - that's retro. But 2007 won't be recent for a while.

  • 10) Players get an immediacy from the clever use of color, for example to distinguish between enemies and friends within the game.

  • 11) Even hardened game players like to be rewarded with badges and gifts and they like to brag about their position on a leader board.

  • 12) Smooth and instant screen-to-character reactions are vital to make games engaging.

Unsung Heroes is a campaign by Spil Games to help connect awesome mobile games with the audiences they deserve.

Through it, we're trying to help developers (whether they publish with us or not) to better market their games on mobile.

These 12 tips show it is so important to get the user experience just right. Because if users don't like your game, you're dead in the water.

You can see some of the Unsung Heroes Competition entrants and the feedback they've been receiving on the Unsung Heroes Facebook page. regularly posts content from a variety of guest writers across the games industry. These encompass a wide range of topics and people from different backgrounds and diversities, sharing their opinion on the hottest trending topics, undiscovered gems and what the future of the business holds.