DRAFT RIVALS

Time:  4 Titles Shipped  /  2 Years  /  600k Downloads

Role: Co-Founder / Product Design / UX 

 FSTA 2017 (NY) Pitch Competition Winners, GDC Canadian Showcase 2016 – Featured Game, Featured by Apple under ‘New Games We Love,’ ‘What’s Hot’ and ‘More Great Games’

Sketch (Wireframes/Layout), Spine (Animations) and Adobe Photoshop (Design)

THE PROBLEM


We love sports but we wanted a way to enhance the live sports experience through our mobile devices. After growing tired of the traditional fantasy leagues and losing money through daily fantasy sports, we knew that there was a gap between what we desired and what was available on the market.

THE SOLUTION


Create deeper, more relevant ways for fans of professional sports to connect with their favourite games. We wanted to create an obsessive and driven fanbase that could sink hours into a fantasy sports experience. 


FOCUSED ON GOALS


Initially we didn't have a clear vision for what the product would look like. We knew the target user, the emotions the product was trying to capture, and started building with that in mind.  

We developed several personalities around what their goals were then they experienced sports. We started with the personalities and quickly moved onto conducting user interviews.

Who do we want playing?

Isaiah Westbrook

Isiah Westbrook is a 4th year college student. Creates websites for sneaker companies to pay off his student debt. Checks Grailed and Hypebeast for the new drops and gets his sports news from Twitter mentions @ his favorite athletes. 

Looks suspiciously like Chance the Rapper.

GOALS

  • Wants to follow the sports he loves
  • Loves competing and hanging with friends

FRUSTRATIONS

  • Doesn't have a credit card yet
  • Daily fantasy sport? With what money fam...

Timothy Graham III 

Harvard mathematics undergrad. Stanford MBA.

Claims he could coach in the NBA.  Who needs to play a game when you understand the latest performance metrics and sift through hundreds of articles on the Ringer? The only time he plays sports is with his 10 year old son on the driveway. 

Looks suspiciously like Bill Simmons.

GOALS

  • Wants to follow the sports he loves
  • Never sees his friends unless the kids have a birthday or Superbowl Sunday. 

FRUSTRATIONS

  • Has no free time at home, but spends most of the work day refreshing r/nba
  • Knows everything about basketball but bored of traditional fantasy

WALKING IT BACK


With an idea of who would be using our application, we needed to define what success meant before anything was mocked up.

We came to the conclusion that whatever we built it would need to be several things:

1. Be built with a focus on the community. 

2. Create a compelling fantasy draft experience.

3. Be able to monetize.


HOW DO WE BUILD A FANTASY SPORTS F2P EXPERIENCE?

THE APPROACH


The main screen needed to reflect modern game design but we wanted a healthy injection of the stats and data that follow sports.

Below is a how we wanted users to experience the flow from the home page. Users who may not be familiar with modern mobile gaming would be experiencing this app and we wanted everything laid out in a simple manner, with discoverability built into it.


THE DRAFT


The most challenging design aspect of UX was finding the right visual metaphor for the fantasy draft.  We wanted to balance several things, selecting the right players, having a competitive draft and keeping a strong focus on sports.  

It took nearly a dozen iteration and rapid prototyping until we were able to arrive to an experience we were satisfied with. Each iteration was used with our growing fanbase and allowed us to have immediate feedback.

AT THE BEGINNING

In our first iteration, we tried to encapsulate all of that into the game mode. Although it was fun to play, after conducting several user interviews it became  clear that we would need to go back to the drawing board. The learning curve in this iteration was too damn high!

We didn't have a clear visual metaphor and it showed. 

BATTLE MODE

We had alot of fun with this iteration! The 1 VS 1 battle was much more clear and we included an ultra violent mode which included bazookas and ninja stars. 

It really took off with our young fans, but the sport became lost in the excitement of the battle.

BASICS

With all that we had learnt and building numerous versions of the game we found something that captured the 'Draft Rivals' experience that we had been chasing from the beginning. 

Selecting lineups from your deck of cards and letting the user focus on the players/stats created a competitive game while keeping the sport at the forefront of the product!


THE LAUNCH

As our fanbase grew, we began to have a better understanding of what worked and began to push updates on a weekly basis, adding and taking away features.

Throughout the lifespan of the games, we stayed in constant contact with our users. They were very quick to share their criticism and helped the products grow to nearly 600K users. 

The in game chat allowed us to stay in constant connection with our users. Along with social media, this is where we would tease new features.

Discord was exciting because it allowed us to have a dynamic conversation with our younger users where they would often offer more thoughtful feedback.

Email the majority of the conversation with older users. Unlike the immediacy of Discord, the conversations often lost focus when going back and fourth on email and because of this we would schedule bi-weekly Skype meetings with users.


TWO YEARS. FOUR TITLES.

DIFFERENT SPORTS, DIFFERENT FANS 


If only it was as simple as just changing the graphics for each sport.

Building the game for three sports meant adapting the product for three different types of audiences. This presented a new series of challenges as each sport has it's own cadence of professional games. 

A typical week for each sport would look like this:

NFL  |  1 game/week

NBA  |  3  games/week

MLB  |  6 games/week

Having to wait until the following day for results already makes the loop for fantasy sports difficult, but we wanted to provide the instant gratification of modern mobile games as well. We approached this by focusing on how we would want the audience to experience each product.

 With NFL, we wanted each week to feel like an epic battle. Each draft would be building up to this massive event and once the results were delivered, there would be large leaps and falls on the leaderboard.  

For NBA, the audience would be younger. We wanted to focus on the superstars and the importance of getting them in matches as they only play a few times a week. The challenge was to make the slower days exciting.

A common expression across the MLB season, is that it's a grind. Not only that, there is much less mass recognition for the superstars. Our focus in this instance was to create compelling stories in the lineups, we did this with an average fantasy points chart which helped indicate which of the players were on a hot streak.

A/B's POST LAUNCH


After launching we began to test how users performed with different versions of the app. 

What was retention like after users were given players of their favourite teams? How did ARPPU improve after making a dedicated splash screen for promotions and where should we put it? Where can we set notifications so players engage within the community?

Running paid user acquisition on Facebook, we would sort the cohorts by age/location/interests and try to learn as much as we can. It helped guid where we could improve the design of the product, where we were loosing users and how we could monetize our paying users better. 


KEY LEARNINGS


Don't be afraid to be ruthless. 

Get the users through a loop as quickly and as simply as possible. If the core loop offers the biggest dopamine hit, don't hope that your users go through it - GET THEM THROUGH IT.

Talk to your users. Before we had any low fidelity mockups and after every update, the countless hours we spent in our in game chat, Skype and emails helped us create a strong community of moderators. Not only did they help us focus where we allocated our limited time and resources, they would help shape the positive community our game developed.

The battles don't stop. Embrace it.

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