case_study_ncsoft_1

Company

  • NCSOFT

Industry

  • Gaming

Technologies used

  • Adobe Creative Suite
  • Balsamiq

NCSOFT develops and publishes online games including Aion, City of Heroes Guild Wars, and Lineage. When NCSOFT converted its Lineage II game from a monthly-based subscription model to free-to-play, it needed to create a registration process to capture existing player information and payment details into the new system. It also needed to create the UX and visual design for a new “virtual currency.” To ensure that gamers would continue to play Lineage II under the new model, the registration process needed to be smooth and simple. redtech created an easy-to-follow signup experience, styled in the look-and-feel of Lineage II that kept players in the mindset of the game even while completing administrative tasks. redtech also created the virtual currency interactions—and then connected both experiences to the NCSOFT backend billing system.

The Challenge

With 3,000 employees and locations in seven countries worldwide, NCSOFT is a gaming powerhouse—developing and publishing many of the industry’s leading online game franchises. When the company wanted to convert its popular Lineage II massively multiplayer online role-playing game from a subscription-based model to free-to-play, it needed to ensure that the transition would be a smooth one—it risked losing players if they had to go through a cumbersome and time-consuming online registration process.

In addition, NCSOFT was rolling out a virtual currency (also called a “microtransactional system”) where players could purchase in-game items and upgrades using “coins” they purchased with real-world money. Because it was introducing a new way for users to spend money toward the game, NCSOFT needed the user interactions to be highly intuitive—and compelling—to encourage participation. Finally, NCSOFT needed to seamlessly tie the registration and transactional interfaces to its backend billing system.

The Solution

NCSOFT engaged redtech for our user experience (UX) and design expertise, as well as our understanding of how to connect these interfaces to core underlying technologies. Our visual approach was simple in theory: encourage players to complete necessary administrative tasks by keeping them engaged and enlivened.

In practice, this meant designing the signup forms that would help transition gamers from the subscription model to free-to-play in an exciting, and intuitive way (in other words, no boring or confusing forms allowed).

We created the user flows and the visual design for the online registration process as a series of seven, easy-to-follow screens. The forms on these screens captured user identity information including credit card details for the microtransactional system, helped the player create a username and password, sparked a process for the user to download the necessary gaming software, and finally returned the player back to the game. We applied a visual design that used the highly fantasized and illustrative images, backgrounds, and characters from the game within the forms themselves—in order to keep the player in the mindset of the game while also providing a very clear, simple, and directed experience.

To design the microtransactional system, we met with multiple stakeholders at NCSOFT and the Lineage franchise in Seattle and Taiwan, to understand the points of player interaction with the coins within the game. Our team designed the UX for these interactions, envisioning and implementing the details of how, when, and where players would access a “coin purse.” We also collaborated with NCSOFT billing system owners in Texas, to ensure compatibility and integration between the interface and the underlying billing system.

The Results

The transition for Lineage II players from the subscription-based model to free-to-play was seamless, and the level of player retention was high. The overall tone of the forms design promised an enriching experience for the player—and this helped ensure that the process was completed. The transition to using the microtransactional interfaces was also easy, and all of the interfaces connected without a hitch to the billing system.