Redesigning the Gaming Portal
As one of the world-leading and award-winning entertainment providers, Gameforge offers free-to-play online games, with players needing to pay for additional functions like individualization. Gameforge wanted to innovate beyond their existing products, and redesign their online portal to match their players’ needs. As a strategic SAP partner, Gameforge’s board members had already participated in a one-day Design Thinking workshop. Impressed by this experience, they asked SAP UX Design Services to provide training to their employees on how to co-innovate with consumers. Gameforge had a concrete problem to solve – redesign their gaming portal – and they wanted to understand what makes their players tick. “It’s not easy for us to tell what our users want, and what their expectations are. We hoped to learn more about this from real people, real users”, said Thomas Rudin, Head of Portals, Gameforge AG.
Understanding the Players
Six Gameforge employees engaged in a four-day d.Camp, at Gameforge’s headquarters in Karlsruhe, turning their office space into a creative co-innovation center. As the basic skills and theory of Design Thinking were already known, the team of developers and managers directly jumped into action. Jochen Gürtler, SAP Design Thinking coach, highlights: “Focusing on one relevant problem is the best way to create innovative solutions.” To learn more about the needs of players, one exercise for the Gameforge team was to meet potential users in person. In the city of Karlsruhe, they interviewed people on the street about their online gaming preferences. Surprisingly, Gameforge discovered a completely new type of players who consider playing as quality time. In addition, they prefer console over free-to-play games, since they see free-to-play games as exploiting users. This finding encouraged Gameforge to build two prototypes of a gaming portal to address the new user group. To do this, plenty of ideas were collected, the workshop rooms were covered with handwritten sticky notes, and the best ideas were iterated on. The team tested paper prototypes in shopping malls, involving real users in the co-innovation process.
Creating an Innovative Culture
The interactive Design Thinking training, which used visualizations, gaming, and prototyping equipped Gameforge’s employees as well as its board members to use the methodologies for future projects. The skills gained were used to implement a Design Thinking approach at Gameforge, and create an innovative culture within a changing organization. Miriam Müller, SAP Design Thinking coach, adds: “A positive side effect of the workshop was the deep impact it had on the team building process.” Gameforge’s discovery of new users stimulated innovative ideas, such as offering a donation program to convince console players to play online. The prototypes created in the workshop focus on the core needs of the newly discovered target group. As a result, Gameforge developers started to transform one prototype into a tailored solution. This redesigned portal offers functions that exactly fulfill the formerly unknown user groups’ expectations and needs: Gaming as quality time, and transparency about the money they pay.
The feedback of Gameforge’s CEO about the workshop results was very positive: “We were astonished by the amount of innovation we could really kick off with this workshop and the methodology,” said Markus Windelen, COO of Gameforge AG.