It seems obvious, but is worth stating regardless: It's crucial to get your first time user experience right, as you probably won't get a second chance.
Regardless of how good your game is, or how fun it becomes once you learn how to play it, players are less likely to stick around if they're turned off by the first time user experience (FTUE).
Hearthstone provides an excellent example of how to introduce game mechanics, and it mostly nails the first time user experience: the big caveat here is that you need to sign into or create a new account before you can proceed to the game itself, which causes some friction.
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But, once you've negotiated the sign-in, which at least offers a Facebook login option – you're thrown right into the action.
You get free cards, a blink-and-you'll-miss-it introduction to what you're doing, and then you're playing a real game – or is it a tutorial? – kinda feels like both, and that's the point.
Once you win the first game (I'm not sure if it's possible not to win the first game, but I'm sure someone has tried...) you're shown a progression path to follow – this beast, Hogger, was just the first of six bad guys you're charged with defeating.
What works so well here is that, provided you enjoyed the first game, it's easy to continue with confidence. You understand what's supposed to happen next, how to make it happen, and even how long it's likely to take.
It's a pretty neat way to introduce the game mechanics and provides a great platform for players to continue from. But, of course, it's not the only game that does a great job with the first time user experience.
Clash Royale is another, using a similar tactic of throwing the player into the thick of the action only moments after launching the game.
Check out this great write-up on Clash Royale's sticky first time user experience.
People don't have a lot of room to spend the time to figure out how to play a game, typically, especially on mobile. There's an expectation of an immediate entry. People don't have a problem losing ninety-nine cents if they don't enjoy the first few moments of your game. They'll just move onto another game that'll be easier to get into.
Heather Desurvire, Founder & Principal, User Behavioristics
Here at PlaytestCloud, we're always developing new tools to make it easier than ever before to find key insights about the first time user experience.