How to Design a Game App?

9minutes read
how to design a game app

There are now 1.7 billion mobile gamers in the world. From young children to old people, people love to play games because it distracts them from vile thoughts, amuses them, or simply takes up their free time. Creating a mobile game is not just a way to entertain your customers, but also a good way to make money from them. In this article, we will tell you how to create an unusual and striking mobile game app design and still profit from it.

Why Mobile Games are So Popular?

The consumer insight platform DISQO decided to answer the question of who are mobile gamers and surveyed 1,200 mobile users. The study showed that the perception of gamers (young, unmotivated people) is erroneous. The survey showed a 50/50 gender divide and ubiquity of mobile gaming across all age groups, not just young people.

  • Nearly half (49%) of Americans play mobile games once or several times a day. 16% play once a week, 13% once a month
  • 49% of those who play daily are women
  • 53% of consumers aged 35 to 54 play daily
  • Among players with tertiary education: 54% of postgraduate students and 51% of master’s degree holders show a higher level of daily play
  • 65% of consumers with an annual income of $250,000 play games once or several times a day, only 29% of them identify themselves as gamers
  • 7 out of 10 players “often” or “sometimes” do other activities while playing, and watching TV is the most common activity (60%), followed by listening to music (46%), eating or cooking (38%)
  • Puzzles and word games are the most popular games among all age groups
  • Strategy and RPG games are popular with more educated people. There are also younger players – from 18 to 44 years old. Both men and women are fond of them (17% of men versus 15.8% of women)
  • 9 out of 10 respondents would choose to view ads for rewards, such as in-game currency, rather than paying for it. Such a decision is more readily accepted by women (92% versus 86%)
  • Less than 10% of users across all age groups would pay for in-game rewards instead of watching ads.

Since the start of the pandemic, players have spent 62% more time playing games. Understanding the players and their interests is important for brands that adjust their media plans, taking into account the growing consumption of digital every new year.

TOP Tips on How to Create a Game App Design

So how to make an attractive game app design so that it will appeal to users and win out against the competition?

UI layout

If we consider mobile games and take into account that most players are right-handed, then depending on the orientation of the device, it has convenient and hard-to-reach areas:

UI layout in mobile game design
which layout to choose for your game app design

Take a look at examples taken from various mobile game app design:

interactive elements in different games
interactive elements that lead to monetization

As you can see, it is best to place interactive elements leading to monetization in the most easily accessible area:

  • Store button
  • More apps
  • Advertising

black UX elements

Users are likely to interact with these elements, alas, sometimes even by mistake. We call these mistakes “black UX”, but it has been proven to increase profits.

Note: for ads at the bottom of the screen, you should add a border between ads and interactive content at least 10 pixels high to meet the ad serving requirements of most platforms.


As screen space is limited and game content gets larger, sliders are turning into a very handy component that allows users to show more options for additional content without having to leave the main stage.

Here are examples of sliders designs. It can be completely different: horizontal or vertical scrolling, choosing a category of items or setting an avatar:

different kinds of sliders in-game app design
sliders of mobile game apps

Since the content of the sliders often goes off-screen, we need to help users understand that there are other content insides. Here are guidelines for sliders:

Partially Visible Elements: Make content that is outside the screen partially visible on the screen so that users can understand that there is more of it.

On launch, animate the slider from start to finish: for the first time showing the slider to users (either in an automatic or user-initiated event), scroll to the end of the content, and then automatically scroll to the beginning of the content of the slider. If the slider contains a lot of content (for example, you need to take 10 full steps from start to end), then you can simply start with the “third step” of the slider, and then animate the scroll to the “first step”. This will show users that there is other content outside the screen.

how to design sliders for mobile games
design sliders properly for mobile games

Popup windows

Pop-ups are a good game app design component used to convey abstract and informational messages to players. Useful tips for their use:

Associate the visible UI with the invisible UI using animations: at the moment of opening the pop-up window caused by the user clicking on the interactive element / button, animate the window launch from the calling button (for example, enlarge the pop-up window of the store from the store button, and upon closing, minimize the store window into a button ). This will help users better associate pop-ups with their originators.

Cover pop-up windows with a translucent darkened background: since they often require user actions and can take up most of the screen, this should help users understand that the game session is paused, but you can still return to it. Pop-ups should be positioned on top of a darkened background so that users can see part of the session underneath (the darkened background should fade in parallel with the popup opening and fade out in parallel with the close animation).

Avoid the X: Many pop-ups use the X as the close button. Many users perceive this “X” button as a pattern of “annoying content” and immediately close the popup. If the pop-up contains content of value to the user and you want to increase the likelihood that they will read it, then make the Close button so that it looks like one of the choices for the player, rather than the X button. Note: Do not create duplicate variants with the same value in the same pop-up window (for example, both “X” and “Close”; users will simply click on the “X”).

popup windows in games design
mobile games popup windows


Touching the darkened background should close the pop-up window in the same way as pressing the Close button unless it is a pop-up shop window – then the shop should only close when you click on the X.

Pop-ups with a lot of text (for example, with an introduction to the story) should display the “X” or “Continue” button only after 2 seconds. This makes users more likely to read important pop-up content rather than close it right away.

User selection (via pop-ups)

As we mentioned above, many pop-ups require user action because they are prompting users to make a decision. Here are some examples of pop-ups asking users what to do next – can you see a pattern?

user selection in mobile games design
user selection via pop-ups in games

User decisions that are good for the game are located on the right side of the pop-up – as game designers, we want players to confirm a purchase, share the game, spend in-game currency:

User decisions that are bad for the game are located on the left side of the popup – as game designers, we do NOT want players to log out, disconnect, reset progress:

While you might think this is a dark UX, it actually helps the user a lot — we don’t want users to accidentally reset their progress, do we? Be that as it may, the main goal here is to lead users to the solution you need, which is good for the KPI of the game (in-game purchases (IAP), retention), engagement, user posts on social networks (sharing) etc).

Tip: associate the color of the button with its function (negative — red, positive green, neutral can be blue).

Reward Videos

Rewarded video ads have become the industry standard in recent years as part of the freemium mobile gaming model. They increase profits and are treated as a “win-win” situation (users who agree to watch ads will receive in-game rewards in exchange).

The icon for rewarded video ads should look like a cinematic clapperboard with a play symbol.

Here are some examples of offers to watch rewarded videos from different mobile games:

reward videos in mobile games design
game design videos

As a game designer, you have to think carefully about what the prize will be, how to reward the user with it, and “for how long”. Basic strategies:

  • Permanent — after watching a commercial, users receive a prize for an unlimited time (for example, an item that is added to the inventory and remains there permanently).
  • For a session — after watching an advertising video, users receive a prize, and it is available for use within the current session. If you exit the game and return to it later, the prize will be lost. This can be useful to extend the session time.
  • On stage — after watching the video, users receive a prize, and it is available only at the current level (for example, it can be a bonus or “one more life”).

Prizes for videos should be meaningful, not a “trifle”, otherwise, users will not want to waste their time on advertising. A game designer should think about what users want when they use game app design.

Tip: Don’t tell users what reward they will receive to make it more exciting (stimulate their curiosity and desire to be surprised and increase the likelihood that they will watch the ad).

Final Thoughts

The most important thing in the process of creating any UI is timely contact with a potential user. It is very important to get feedback at each stage of development to make sure that you do not get carried away with simplification and do not lose anything.

Making mobile game app design is difficult. It is often necessary to take into account numerous parameters and satisfy numerous conditions. And sometimes these are mutually exclusive conditions.

Contact us if you dream of creating a design for a mobile game. We will be happy to help you with this difficult task, as we have many years of experience in creating functional and trendy designs. See for yourself by looking at the works and services that we provide.

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