Saying Goodbye to Apps
In 2013, Compuware surveyed mobile users on their download habits. They made a startling discovery: 90 percent of mobile apps were downloaded once and then eventually deleted. Further, only 16 percent of users opened an app more than twice. Users deleted apps for all sorts of reasons: the apps were prone to frequent crashes, took up too much space or simply didn’t live up to expectations. Often, mobile games have a short window to convince users they’re worth playing.
Between 2008 and 2010 I owned the most basic of basic cell phones: the Nokia 1650. It had a monochrome screen, an LED flashlight and only needed to be recharged once a week. It also featured three games, which I played incessantly until the phone died. In the years since, I’ve moved up to smartphones, and am no longer bound by the games hard-coded into my phone. Some games I keep on my phone and use daily (Sudoku), while others get only a few plays before they’re trashed.
Recently I deleted three games off my smartphone, for three very different reasons. All three were games I enjoyed…more or less. They all had one thing in common: I played them like a power user, until one day I stopped.
How long I had it: 8 months
How often I played it: Daily
I was really excited when Hearthstone was announced for mobile. I’d been playing since the Curse of Naxxramas expansion and looked forward to being able to play on my phone. It meant I could squeak in a game or two on my downtime at work. Anytine I had a spare ten minutes I could fire off a game or two.
Why I left: Space
Yet while I still play the game daily on desktop (enjoying the latest Mean Streets of Gadgetzan expansion), I’ve long gotten rid of Hearthstone on my smartphone. It’s too big. My cell phone isn’t the largest on the market, but with 16 gigabytes of storage I thought it’d be enough for a few years. And it is…as long as I don’t have Hearthstone installed. Taking up 3-5 gigabytes of storage space, Hearthstone is a space hog. Every update required me to delete several other apps or clean up my storage. Eventually I decided that I’d rather keep Hearthstone confined to my desktop and enjoy it at home.
How long I had it: 1 month
How often I played it: several times a week
Man, I really wanted to like this game. The original NES Final Fantasy practically lived inside my console, and I carried around the Nintendo Power strategy guide for years. Final Fantasy 2 and 3 for the SNES were similarly beloved.
Why I left: Too confusing
But sometimes the magic doesn’t strike a fourth time. The UI killed my interest for this game. Brave Exvius is filled with in-app purchase opportunities, calls to play limited dungeons and just stuff to do. I never quite figured out what I should be doing or why I should be caring about the treasure I was collecting. I get why I should get gold (or gil as they call it in this game because reasons), but why should I acquire a turkey leg? Or a bottle of spices? Or three turkey legs? There was something about crafting items buried in all the sub-menus, but after fighting a boss or two I simply felt worn out.
Final Fantasy has always suffered from having too many menus and sub-menus, but it seems to have reached peak menu with Brave Exvius. Maybe it’s the small screen, I don’t know. But of the three games I got rid of recently, this lasted the shortest amount of time on my phone.
How long I had it: 6 months
How often I played it: Several times a day
I may be a dedicated Hearthstone player, but for several summer months this year, I was forgoing my daily quests. Instead, evenings found me walking around my neighborhood, playing Ingress. This location-based precursor to Pokemon Go consumed all my waking my hours for several months. When I woke up, I checked and reinforced my portals. On the way to work I’d attack enemy portals from the bus. On my work breaks I’d walk around downtown Chicago, attacking enemy portals in the vicinity of my office. In the evenings my SO and I would walk along the beach by our house, making sure we controlled the half-dozen portals along our stretch of Lake Michigan.
Why I left: Pokemon Go
In the end it was these portals that killed our enthusiasm for the game. Pokemon Go was huge in our neighborhood over the summer. Hundreds of people lined the beach nightly, battling in gyms and hunting for rare Pokemon. (Ingress portals and Pokestops occupy the same space, since PoGo was built on the Ingress engine.) This caused an unfortunate incident over Labor Day, when PoGo players trampled the protected sand dunes on the beach—dunes that had taken years to establish. Legislation was passed, partly due to Niantic’s infamous and unresponsive customer service department.
I had been souring on Ingress for some time before the dunes incident. Every day was a constant teardown and rebuild of portals and fields. Keeping up with Ingress felt like a task worthy of Sisyphus. The dunes incident finally killed it. Ingress isn’t off my phone yet, but it’s been months since I opened the app. The next time I need to make storage space, it’s gonna go.
As I was writing this article, I went back and installed Snake onto my smartphone. We’ll see how long it lasts, since I have the freedom to delete it at will.
Image Cell Phone In Hand… by flickr user MyEyesSees. Used under Creative Commons CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.