The problem that this product will address is that gamers need a more efficient way of coordinating times to play with friends or make new friends because they are looking to have fun and combat their loneliness with social interaction within these digital multiplayer games.
The video games industry has consistently seen growth for the past couple of years, despite the most recent and ever-evolving pandemic, to eventually reach $203.1 billion via consumer spending (+5.4% year on year) according to a newzoo article. This growth is evidence of the importance that digital games have on forming and maintaining friendships. An example of this can be seen in this article from The Washington Post that details how video games helped friendships thrive during the pandemic, which caused a year of isolation and loneliness.
Through consumer research in the form of surveys and interviews with 10 interviewees, we have learned that older gamers (+19) have a difficult time syncing schedules with their friends to create these gaming sessions, resulting in 44% of interviewees stating that they don’t play video games with friends as often as they would like. These users are tired of their current methods due to inefficiency and complexity, with methods such as utilizing different group chats from different platforms such as iMessage, Snapchat, Instagram, etc.
The main issues that arise with these methods of planning are a lack of responses, late responses, or a significant amount of back-and-forth messages dedicated to planning. A frequent scenario that all of the interviewees were familiar with is having conversations with their friend group on what time the group will be online, only for nobody to get online due to other circumstances which leaves the group yearning for answers.
This is a problem worth addressing now because it was found through consumer research that gaming is a hobby that takes up a significant amount of time in the lives of all of these users, ranging anywhere from 15-20 hours a week, hence, solving the initial pain point of scheduling these gamer sessions with friends can be extremely valuable to these users.
Through consumer interviews, we have narrowed down specific reasons why gamers struggle to play games with friends:
- Conflicting and always-changing schedules
- No specific form of communicating availability
- Not having friends who play the same games as them
56% of interviewees also stated being open to playing with new and different players. However, users have also stated that there aren’t any tools by which they can go out and find these new players.
Overall, it is clear to see the importance that gamers place on maintaining and forming new friendships and how they use video games to accomplish this.
User Pain Points
We conducted 10 user interviews.
To address this problem effectively we conducted user interviews to be able to ascertain the pain points of online gamers in the way that they schedule online gaming sessions with friends and how they make new friends if their friends are unavailable.
We were able to group the main issues into three categories; conflicting and always-changing schedules, no specific form of communicating availability and not having friends who play the same games.
During the user interviews conducted we were able to find out the different pain points gamers have while trying to play with friends and any solutions they’ve already tried.
Conflicting and always-changing schedules
- Work schedules
- Family time
- Student life - classes and studying
- Significant others
- Schedules not aligning with friends
No specific form of communicating availability
- Unknown/long wait times for responses
- Lack of responses in general
- Conversations behind held on multiple platforms (iMessage, Snapchat, Instagram, etc)
Not having friends
- Friends are offline
- Being new to gaming so no friends to play with
- Not having friends play the same games
- Not having friends with the same skill level in specific games
- No safe way of making online friends
Our research let us know the pain points of users and we were able to identify which we are able to address with the solution. The pain points are essentially maintaining and forming new friendships while playing online games. I found that all of the pain points boil down to this core issue around friendships.
Landing on the Solution
The goal of this product is to help online gamers find times when they’re able to play with their friends or even find new friends altogether. The hypothesis is that if gamers had a resource or tool that showed them the best times to play with their group or specific individuals after everyone puts in their availability, then this cuts down on the time spent planning a gaming session to better enjoy more time actually playing. The product will also allow users to find other gamers that play the same games as they do and are generally similar in personality and interests.
Explanation of the Solution
ONLINE is a mobile application that will take away the stresses of seeing what time everyone will be online to play and help you make new friends in times of need.
The ONLINE MVP will have three main features:
- Planning game sessions with friends - Users will download the mobile application, create a profile, add friends and input their availability for the week to see what times align with each other to play.
- Find new friends - Users will be able to find other gamers to play with based on the game they want to play, overall skill level and experience, general interests, and other factors such as age.
- Messaging friends - Users will be able to chat with individual friends or a group to further plan their gaming session.
I plan to continue with this project with a dedicated team of 1 UX/UI Designer and 2 Developers to create and further improve on the MVP while utilizing this project as a point of reference for my product management experience in interviews. Along with creating and improving the MVP, the next steps include creating a Go-To-Market Strategy and Product Roadmap to further plan out the future of this application.
Product Manager Learnings:
As a product manager, I learned that it is important to focus on the problem and the users as much as you possibly can before diving into the solution space.
I learned how useful and impactful consumer research is in identifying user pain points and what is truly the core problem to be solved.
I also learned the importance of clear and concise communication when it comes to explaining complex ideas of problems and solutions.