As a product owner I played Clash Royale to learn making better software

I'm a product owner who tries always to work on things that make sense for end users. I appreciate well designed software and I'm fascinated by how some software products get user's love.

For quite a few months I've noticed developers around me playing some game that's really taking their minds :D .. They ship, but whenever they're having free time they're playing it. I've watched them playing it, talking about it, requesting stuff and challenging each other. So, I decided to play it for the purpose of learning how it has become that good.

I’ve been playing Clash Royale for a few weeks, and I found it’s a great product. A well designed piece of software that leads into a happy user, addict sometimes :D .. I think I've learned quite a few lessons from Clash Royale that I find noteworthy and should be considered while designing software products

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1. Superior discovery

The game builds on the success of Supercell games. They know what they are doing and once you see the store assets or marketing material you know it's another "clans" game. Adding to that, from the moment you launch the game for the first time you keep getting encouraged to discover new things. Here's the battle field, here's the market and there is the place where your cards are.

2.Onboard like a Pro

I've launched the game for the first time. It starts with a tutorial, but that tutorial is like a sequence of battles that I enter, and in each battle I learn a technique, then in a final 2 battles I learn to combine some of those techniques. Then I'm ready to fly!!

I liked that A LOT. I never felt like a stranger, a noob.. a person who's lost thinking what's going on.

I played some games before, some of them were PC games of a different genre, but some of them missed that onboarding piece terribly. I kept wondering where should I go and what's the target of this level, which is very annoying specially if we're in the beginnings. With Clash Royale, it was totally different. With Clash Royale you feel like "Im doing good"which takes us to the next point.

3. Build habits

Okay, I've to admit that the game is really addictive; manages to make you love it and willing to play it so much. For those who played the game you probably have noticed 2 main different types of rewards, Instant rewards and deferred rewards. You win a battle and get a bunch of coins, crown, etc. And you can have chests to unlock, but those chests can be unlocked in 3 hours, 8 hours, 22 hours.. etc.

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This is not stupid, this is habit building. This player shall visit the next day to check what's there in those chests, and if they don't visit the game sends them a push notification telling them that they're missing opening a chest of rewards. Building this habit of revisiting the game daily or multiple times a day to check such rewards makes the user play more and start missing the game and anticipating the rewards.

4. Help me master it

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The game like many games offer many levels and upgrades.. the more you play the more you're eligible for. You can upgrade cards, gain more wins and improve your overall level.. and unlock more arenas which, in turn, unlocks more cards.

BUT, one of the most interesting features in Clash Royale is the game replay feature. Yes, they keep like the most recent games you play, either individually or within a 2 vs 2 battle and you can share these replays. THIS IS AWESOME for people who wanna learn some techniques or see how their friends plan a game. It also allows moving in 0.5x, 1x, 2x and 4x speeds. One drawback here is that it doesn't allow you to seek to some point of the replay. You need to replay the video, which is bad. As any drawback, it is bad by definition.

5. Make it social

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The game without a clan is totally different that the game with a clan. By being part of a clan I can chat with clan-mates, request cards, share replays and watch lots of awesome replays. AND more importantly play AWESOME challenging 2V2B with a friend, and more awesome to play it against a team of 2 other clan-mates. The social part is one of the biggest reasons behind this game's success.

6. A Little Drawback

Nothing is perfect.. one of the most annoying things in the Android version of the game is that I can't read more about the locked cards that I'll unlock when I'm in other Arenas of higher levels. THIS IS UGLY! .. whenever I enter a 2v2B in an arena that has those cards I feel embarrassed, It's not the same case in iOS though. Supercell Android team should fix this!

As a user, and As a product owner, I feel really happy ;)

So far, that's what I learned from the game. It's super fun to play, and super fun to watch how well this product is made. The article above combines my notes from playing the game firsthand, inspired by game thinking and the different stages the user goes through. Looking forward to fruitful comments.. If you like the article and find it interesting don't be shy, recommend and share as much as you'd like ;)

Product owner. I write user stories as part of my profession, and I tell stories as a passion.