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Veteran Member - Level 13
I'm a big fan of all that GameInformer does to bring me my daily gaming news and discussions, but I've been wondering lately why I don't have an app on my phone for this website. GameInformer has an app for the Android and Apple tablet market (the app on the App Store was hard to find for some reason), and I'm appalled to see such negative reviews the software has garnered, especially on the Android port. GI released a major patch for their Android app in October, but it seems to have created more problems than it solves.
Thus, I feel another, more intensive effort should be made to bring the magazine, and online services, millions of gamers rely on to the mobile market. Here's my wishlist of what I would like to see in a GameInformer app, and how I'd think GameInformer would go about the business:
- The current problems -
The first course of action is probably the most obvious, but most tedious.Overall, the current Android app has an average rating of 1.6/10 out of 240 reviews. There are plenty of issues reported about the tablet app, ranging from login problems to annoyingly small text. If GameInformer wants to improve their app, another massive patch is due for release.
Go comment to comment and take note of all of the gripes in the 240 reviews, then take those remarks and work on fixing each issue; work from most intrusive problem to least-mentioned issue. Some of these hiccups are easily solved: if the text is too small, make it bigger. Other gripes do not have such obvious solutions, like user navigation, which has to be as intuitive as it is easy to maneuver through. However, plenty other examples provide ample role models.
- Follow other app's leads -
If GameInformer wants to improve their app, there are plenty of gaming apps out there from which to take note; Xbox Smartglass, IGN, and Steam among the ones I use most often. All of them sync up your current account on the internet, feature a smooth interface, and allow the user to access all major parts of their websites.
Xbox Smartglass has a smooth interface: swiping the screen from side-to-side takes you to alternate pages, and each page is taken straight from the Xbox Dashboard, featuring Home, Social, and Recent Activity pages. If GI used this strategy, members would be greeted upon starting up the app with a sign-in screen (auto-sign-in option included). Once logged in, members can swipe the screen to alternate between "News," "Reviews & Previews," "Explore," "Take Part," "Magazine," and "Hubs" options. Each category is appropriately sub-categorized; selecting "Reviews & Previews" guides a member to a page bisected in half by Reviews and Previews options, which show the most recent 5 of those categories, for example.
Alternatively, Steam's app follows Facebook's interface, using a single, reasonably-sized icon at the edge of the screen, from which a sidebar opens up. This sidebar allows the user to access all the major features of the popular Steam platform, segregated into subcategories. If GameInformer took this route, it could put a central icon at the top left of the screen, and a sidebar that has the News, Reviews & Previews, and ensuing categories on it. Scrolling down would allow users to browse content easily, and selecting the "Load More" option would allow them to keep on surfing to their heart's content.
Turning to IGN's app, it also uses the central icon strategy, but only for selecting its subcategories. Once you reach a subcategory, the user selects their desired page from a dropdown bar. GameInformer could do something similar by using the central icon strategy to let users select which category of content they want. From there, a toolbar at the top allows the member to select more specific categories of content.
Judging from those three examples alone, GameInformer can utilize the central-icon strategy (touching over the easily-accessible icon will bring up a sidebar of subcategories), or a swiping strategy, like Smartglass. For GameInformer's needs, I'd say the app should look to Steam, since IGN's use of both a toolbar and central-icon makes the app feel cluttered. No matter the strategy, these apps keep things simple by categorizing each part, and force the user to access what they want through clear-cut categories and tiles. I'm not sure who is in charge of creating GI's application, but they could likely contact the producers of the aforementioned apps if they need further assistance.
- Branch out to mobile phones -
Providing a tablet app makes sense considering reading a magazine is much easier with the additional screenspace. As I mentioned before though, GameInformer is more than just its magazine; it's also got a website with a booming community. I think an additional few hundred thousand mobile customers added to the current tablet fanbase would be beneficial, both profit- and publicity-wise. And, frankly, I want a GI app on the iPhone since that's the phone I use, so I guess the point I'm making is a tad bit selfish.
- Can't ignore being social -
GameInformer has been graced with a golden community: many people have formed lasting bonds on this site. An app ignoring this aspect of GameInformer would only shoot itself in the foot. To help a member convey their personality on the app, a member's profile should be at least as customizable as their profile page on GIO. Also, wouldn't it be nice to have the same tools at your disposal to talk with fellow members of the site that apps like Facebook provides? If you mention a member in a blog, have the option to tag them. If you talk to fellow members a lot, a chat option for the app would be more than welcome.
- Push the GameInformer themes -
The platform GameInformer pushes and the strategy they utilize in their app matters little if the app can't carry the GameInformer content that makes the magazines and online service so popular. Providing access to the magazines is great, but it isn't nearly enough when the website provides a constantly-updated news feed, user content, and all the hubs in one place. GI focuses on its online content as much as its magazine issues; its app should make the same efforts to provide subscribers and online members alike with both forms content.
Design is also important, so the app should have a lot of what makes the GameInformer.com homepage so identifiable. The design possibilities are endless; for example, the main screen theme for the app could feature the cover of each ensuing magazine issue. Or, even better, allow each member to set their own customization settings for the whole app; a portal lover could give the app an orange-and-blue color scheme, with screens for the game interspersed throughout.
Welp, that's pretty much it. Fellow members, would you like an app for GameInformer on your phone? What recommendations do you have for the GI staff to make their current app better, or to make another app entirely?