Renata Carriel, UX Designer Lead at Wildlife, talks about the challenges in offering an engaging experience for players in an industry constantly changing
The desire to compete and emerge victorious in the mobile games industry is most surely not restricted to players. The industry itself has become increasingly competitive as millions of games are released in the app stores. And that is why it has become a scenario in which drawing attention from players becomes a challenge and working to remain in the spotlight could be expensive for companies. This is the context in which LiveOps is becoming a commercial advantage for game studios as well as something deeply connected to Wildlife’s vision.
Over the years, the lifecycle and scalability of mobile games have evolved and now feature more sophisticated game mechanics and player engagement methods so as to ensure titles are still aligned with the audiences’ preferences.
That said, what was created as a way to fix bugs without the need to release a new version of the game eventually evolved into a complex product focused on improving UX and boosting engagement, thus increasing revenue. Currently, LiveOps can be summarized as the ability to customize and tweak a particular game experience based on real-time feedback received from players.
At Wildlife, LiveOps has expanded and became quite important over the past two years with a team of UX designers now led by Renata Carriel, specialist in UX/UI Design and Digital Product Design, who told us about the complex and fascinating goal shared with her team.
Planning for the future ahead
Carriel mentions she started working with LiveOps back when everything was still new to the industry alongside five designers during the beginning of her journey at Wildlife. Eventually, the area grew and more people joined the team.
“It was the first time I saw a team grow like that and I had the opportunity to participate in the hiring process. It is a new and challenging kind of project for designers, so it is necessary to find a particular kind of professional that is still not that common in the industry and, in the end, that might have a lot of impact on the project’s development”.
Due to such growth, it soon became necessary to have someone looking after the delivery unit as a top manager, and so she was promoted to product leader. Nowadays, Carriel is the central piece of this process and has the overview, providing support to other UX designers at the LiveOps department in order to maintain consistency in product growth and user familiarity.
Since this is a new kind of market in the industry, it has become an exciting challenge for professionals to help it expand.
“Working from scratch, structuring the area inside the company, and being able to grow with it is inspiring and shows how Wildlife has room for people to grow as professionals as well. This enabled me to rise to a new position and I can say nowadays I am happy to be able to help other amazing professionals grow with me.”
The department and the product are being developed towards the same goal as the company’s, which is why Carriel is thinking about how to make sure her team grows in a strategic way so professionals can also feel aligned with the perspective for the future of the company. “Everyone needs to understand what the expected results are, how we are going to get there, what tools and skills we need in order to do that. My role is to prepare everything for us to be able to do the work on a daily basis” Carriel says.
LiveOps and UX Design working side by side
Once it’s released, a mobile game then faces several stages of growth, thus growing more interesting for its audiences and developing new, more stable content and structures. In order for that to happen, players are required to be engaged and motivated to consume the in-game products, thus generating revenue for the company.
And that is why the LiveOps team performs all kinds of research, and formulates and validates hypotheses, which result in new features to be implemented for in-game events, as well as calibrate content, and create and test offers. “As an important product, it needs to be easy to handle and intuitive for players, requiring less effort from the engineering team for implementation and leaving room for us to focus on innovation and the development of other products” Renata explains.
At Wildlife, UX professionals have space to study and propose new solutions involving other teams, as well as any assets needed to implement such solutions.
“Everyone is responsible for the product. We are able to work on our own and we can rely on a culture of content ownership that is vital to realising what has potential for improvement, adding ideas, and bringing feedback. All of that helps raise the bar when it comes to the quality standards of what we do.”
Every week, UX designers gather around to bring an overview of the projects they are working on. In addition to providing an overview, this kind of meeting makes room for collaboration, so that coworkers can comment on the work being carried out by someone, which then creates common ground for exchanging ideas on features and developing tools.
Carriel says she’s excited that the team, which has been structured for only a couple of years now, is currently involved in several of Wildlife’s games.
“One of our jobs is to talk to other departments about the relevance of UX to their projects and show the results we’ve seen. Nowadays, other teams are already requesting help from UX designers, thus expanding our work to other products”.
Keeping UX designers and products integrated is not easy, but for that, both leader and team rely on constant documentation of all content, processes, and routine so that the strategy is always being properly put to action. “We hold special activities such as “Café com Design”, a space to talk about processes and Pair Design, which is when a UX designer takes a look at the work being carried out by a coworker and provides feedback to help them. These are some of the mutual learning mechanisms we use”.
Some people might still wonder: what is the real impact of these initiatives on the final product? “First, we focus on getting ideas off the paper and putting them out, then we work on quality from that point on because there is an evolution of usability”. This is why the performance of UX designers in the LiveOps ecosystem cannot be simply restricted to the delivery of documents and definition of protocols. It is vital to consider the work focused on solutions that make the work a lot easier and help processes work properly between all teams involved in a particular products, thus contributing to their financial efficiency and constant improvement.
In a relatively new and expanding department inside Wildlife, the demand for UX designers tends to grow. Renata then makes clear that is is necessary for UX professionals to enjoy working alongside other people in a collaborative manner, always helping coworkers.
“Above all, we are looking for people who want to bring new backgrounds, skills, and knowledge. This a place where we have a safe space to speak and feel heard”.
The team leader also emphasises the commitment to diversity ideals and goals for teams at Wildlife: “We are working tirelessly to make sure this is a space in which women, black people, LGBTQIA+ and other minorities feel they have a lot to contribute to the mobile gaming universe. We want to fill our positions with professionals from the most different backgrounds and people hungry for knowledge” she highlights. She also points out that the company currently has an open UX Designer position only for women and anyone interested can apply through Wildlife’s Career Section.