Apple, Google and Microsoft provide developers with Human Interface Guidelines. Essentially a set of recommendations to make a user interface and experience consistent, intuitive and most importantly learnable. Most smartphone users know how to use mail, calendar etc, so building in the fundementals into your won App is important for users.
But games are the exception and they seem to break all the rules. From custom buttons, slide interfaces, icons and menu’s that dont conform.
Just because they are popular, it doesnt mean you can get away with this for your App. They provide entertainment where users are much more forgiving, but ultimately the winner will provide a more thoughtful experience.
Here are some of the worst interfaces from the world’s most popular games.
Words with friends
One of the most custom interfaces around, buttons are too thin, buttons are too thick, navigation is confusing, its hard to understand if its your or their move. All in all for such a popular game, the custom interface is very confusing. Pay attention to someone using the App for the first time.
Street Fighter IV
You can easily tell that this was a port, where touching a menu item selects it and a second touch activates it. There is no other natiove App that does this so a user could very easily get stuck before the y even start. Not to mention the very thin buttons making it extremely difficult to navigate to the game.
Zynga Slots vs. Slotomania
Synga slots on the left is a good custom interface. Consistent buttons, animations and overall pretty good. The user can play in portrait mode unlike the example on the left from Slotomania. Forced landscape orientation, small buttons with smaller touch regions, terrible pop-ups with clunky navigation.
Nice work Zynga!