First part of a design challenge we worked on with Activision for a studio class capstone project (part two of the project is called Spec Ops). We were tasked with developing a concept and pitch video. The focus was to promote player engagement through the creation of social features for the Call of Duty companion app.
Created for Activision
Research, UX Design, Motion Graphics
Activision’s Call of Duty (COD) is a challenging game for beginners, but learning COD is easier for new players when they do so with friends. In fact, COD is more fun to play with friends regardless of skill level, but finding new ones can be difficult, and compatibility is a major pain point when matching with strangers. While existing friends may lack game skills, their proven compatibility makes for an untapped opportunity. Currently, there isn’t an obvious way for active players to recruit their friends as new COD players. We needed to repackage the existing onboarding experience in a way that was easy to understand and share, because while the COD companion app contains tutorials and a guide for new users, the app is geared towards active players.
How can active players introduce their friends to COD, in order to create a positive and memorable first-time experience?
We designed a Recruitment Roadmap feature for the COD companion app. Our concept provides a prescribed series of steps for active players to follow when recruiting new players from their existing network of friends, with the companion app providing the pathway and toolset. Our pitch video for the Activision team highlighted a Welcome Kit and a Weekly Plan.
The project was a collaborative two-person effort. My teammate was Chase Nguyen. We planned the pitch video together and then I used Adobe After Effects to edit the video, for which Chase created many of the visual assets.
Prior to teaming up with Chase, I explored how I might encourage prosocial behavior within the COD community by using personality scores for matchmaking. Then, with Chase, we moved to a couch co-op system for local players. Some of the players we interviewed (particularly women) weren’t keen on gaming with strangers in private homes, so we settled on friend-to-friend recruitment.
We created a concept mockup for a Welcome Kit as a part of our couch co-op. While we pivoted away from IRL matchmaking, we kept the Welcome Kit as the digital artifact helped establish a mental model for players.
We met with the Activision Design Team and then we conducted remote interviews with online gamers. While some of our subjects made new friends through online gaming, none were from COD. They typically played with people they knew or from their extended networks. We also heard from a pair of veteran domain experts: Geoff Moore (Senior Manager Product Creative, Homer) and Brandon Caiting (Game Designer, Riot Games). Here are some of the interview highlights.
My initial research revolved around the encouragement of prosocial behavior. I discovered a paper on a statistical phenomenon called the faithfulness-boost effect which highlights the value of loyal teammates. We referenced the paper as we developed our concept. Activision’s own research pointed out that successful matches with random players are rare enough to be described as like “finding a unicorn”.
The COD Warzone Companion App has many features but lacks some that can be found in other companion apps.
Our heuristic analysis revealed usability issues and an app targeted towards core players.
We searched forums and social media to better understand COD players. Some of our findings spoke to unmet player needs, while others were about social and personal motivations.
We shared our pitch video with Activision’s Call of Duty Companion App Design Team and they approved our concept for further development: Spec Ops. The team also provided some actionable suggestions such as adding a mechanism to draw players back to the week plan if they failed to follow through with daily interactions and game play.
I wonder if we might add another layer to the experience. The nurturing and cooperative nature of our idea appeals to basic social needs, but the reward section that follows is simplistic. While the user indiscriminately receives items from a welcome kit, the items are tied to skill development as prescribed by the structure and competitive nature of COD.