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HYDRA Gaming

UX/UI / design research / art direction

Overview:

Hydra Gaming is a digital video game distributor that focuses on the player’s interests and buying experience. Finding relevant titles shouldn’t be a game itself, so Hydra plays that role for you through its personalized and navigable interface. It’s time for gamers to start spending more hours in-game than on the store page.

Challenge:

Many major game distributor sites either lack a selection of titles, or have too many which leads to a cluttered selection and interface. With a complicated layout and selection, users may feel overwhelmed and lost when finding the game that gears towards them.

Execution:

Create and design a digital video game distributor service with a navigable and inviting interface that excites users to play their new games. Implementing a system that assists users find titles that are relevant to them will improve their gaming experience.

Gaming Survey

The following summarizes a Google Form survey for those with an interest in video games. The goal of this survey was to understand the pain points and issues with digital game shopping. 30 respondents shared their personal experience.

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Survey Takeaways

Majority of these users play on a personal computer

Over half chose Steam as the easiest site to navigate.

Many of the respondents found it somewhat hard to find relevant games. 

The most prevalent issue when buying games involved pricing, interface, and usability.

Target Audience & User Persona

The survey shows us that it can be challenging for many players to find something that appeals to them. Considering these results, the target audience would be older teens to young adults whose hobbies revolve around gaming, and also struggle with buying games that are relevant to them.

Xavier Matthews

Age: 19

Occupation: College Student/Part-time

Location: Austin, Texas

Bio:

Xavier is a student enrolled at Austin Community College. He works a part time job at a local sandwich shop and saves some money on the side to buy video games. Xavier plays on his PC every evening after working on his assignments, and has over 200 games in his library. Although he has a lot of game titles, he finds himself not playing a lot of the games that he buys on a whim. Xavier has trouble finding games he thinks he will enjoy, and by the time he plays it, it’s too late to refund. 

Interests: PC building, bowling, cryptocurrency, Reddit, space, band posters

Pain Points: Spends more money than he should on games, has a short attention span, some games are harder to run due to smaller storage in his PC.

Xavier’s Empathy Map

This empathy map explores Xavier’s point of view in gaming. Seeing the user persona’s needs will help with creating the content and layout of the website, but most importantly, what the consumer will be looking for. 

How Might We’s

After learning more about the audience and their pain points, How Might We questions are asked. These preliminary questions would jumpstart the designs around usability and practicality.

Competitive Analysis

Comparing two of the most popular video game companies will help with understanding the gaming market more. Analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of these competitors will determine what features can be successful and what should be avoided.

Key features:

  • Discovery Queue

  • Steam Deck - game pad controller 

  • Social networking service

  • Automatic game updates

 

Strengths:

  • One of the most popular video game distributor sites

  • Games are often on sale, seasonal Steam sales

  • Many developers and variety of games

  • Many new releases and titles

  • Achievements can be unlocked in games

  • Direct streaming

  • Community pages, workshops, market for trading

  • Available on Windows PC, MacOS, Linux

Weaknesses:

  • Lack of protection from hackers, scammers, and cheaters.

  • Biased rating system on games

  • Poor customer service

  • Looking for specific users can be difficult when screen names can be replicable

  • Interface is cluttered

Key features:

  • Exclusive titles

  • Redeeming game codes

  • Promotional pages and seasonal sales

Strengths:

  • Exclusive games

  • Free game giveaways

  • Quality over quantity

  • Navigable interface

  • Exclusive titles that have one of the largest player bases

 

Weaknesses:

  • Missing major game titles

  • Smaller sense of community

  • No Linux support

  • Lacks support for VR

  • No game gifting feature

Wireframes

Creating wireframes would build a foundation of how the website layout will look like. This process will allow user testing before fully designing the interface.

 
Magnetic
Purple
Rusted Crimson 
Sizzling
Red
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The Store Page

The hero of the discover store page highlights the Good Karma Sale, a promotion that gives the buyer half off on a copy if they gift the same game to a friend. This sale is applied to a new game every 3 days. 

As the user scrolls down the page, they can see game titles that are relevant to them if they have logged into their account. Hydra’s game suggestions are based on the player’s game genre’s, most played games, games that their friends play, and friend suggestions. 

Select games have the option to try-before-you-buy, which provides the player an opportunity to 

Targeted Concerns:

  • Not having enough free trials before buying

  • A lack of a personalization for suggested games

  • Finding affordable games

Game Page

The layout of each game page will display a gallery with the game’s screenshots and video previews. To maintain a more minimal appearance, the game’s details are minimized and can be expanded to view.

Targeted Concerns:

  • Cluttered interface

  • Biased reviews

Purchase Pages

The shopping cart will separate gift purchases and personal purchases for easier viewing. If a game is available for a pre-purchase free trial, it will clarify to the customer in the game’s box. 

 

Targeted Concerns:

  • More free demos to avoid financial commitment

  • Cluttered interface

What I Learned

This project expanded my perspective of personalization in online shopping. I was challenged with curating individual preferences on a platform while trying to cater the design to a broad audience. After creating Hydra Gaming, I discovered my passion with designing for unique experiences that can provide value on an individual scale.

Further Development

In-game interface overlay

With more time, I would have loved to design a Hydra interface overlay for user’s who are in-game. Being able to design an accessibility feature would have allowed opportunity for a more unique experience.

Community features

Making Hydra a more community-based developer would have assisted the concept of personalized store pages for users. With games suggested by friends, the user could also benefit from seeing suggestions from similar players in the community.