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Case study

Creating stickiness through gamification for a leading prepaid telco service

As telcos continue to face competition by MVNOs, we designed an incentivized mini-game to offer greater customer value apart from price.

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The ask

I was tasked to design a mini-game to improve engagement on Singtel’s prepaid services mobile app.

The mini-game had to:  ​

1. Be simple to understand, yet fun to play​
2. Improve customer engagement, as measured by: 
  • Increased MAU 

  • Increased DAU

  • Number of game sessions

3. Increase loyalty and social sharing, as measured by:
  • Reduced churn

  • Increased app installs

As one of 2 Experience Designers on the project,

my responsibilities included:

  • Fronting meetings with stakeholders

  • Interviewing stakeholders and surveying customers

  • Storyboarding, designing and prototyping the mini-game

  • Developing the game assets and animations

  • Overseeing development and testing from a design standpoint

The entire design process for this project took  1 month.


We surveyed 5 prepaid users to better understand their mobile usage habits,

and uncovered the following insights:

1. Singtel’s prepaid base comprised of a large number of non-local, blue-collar workers, many of whom were not native English speakers​.

2. Majority of prepaid users are money and time-sensitive.

3. Prepaid users are data-conscious and limit their use of mobile apps, including games.

4. Users' motivation to play mini-games on non-game apps fizzles out once rewards stop being attractive.

Design challenges

With the insights in mind, we began to brainstorm on concepts that could solve the following design challenges:

The game had to require minimal explanation

We had to use a universally-understood concept to transcend cultural and language barriers amongst the diverse prepaid base.

Game sessions had to be short, yet replayable

We designed each game session to last no longer than a few
seconds, so users could quit at any time without fear of losing

progress. We also limited the number of times users could

play the game. 

The game had to be fun even without extrinsic rewards

We designed the game to require a mix of luck and skill and also introduced a leaderboard to encourage competition. This kept

the game engaging even when the pool of rewards was limited.


We came up with a simple, twitch-reaction game based on a universally-understood concept: fishing.

Screenshot 2021-03-06 at 5.39.06 PM.png
Screenshot 2021-03-06 at 5.39.23 PM.png

Prototyping & testing

I developed a prototype in Unity and tested

it remotely with 6 users, to test the concept's simplicity and replayability.


We used the following findings to make a few iterations:

The element of timing and skill was kept participants playing continuously 

Most participants played multiple sessions without prompting.

Not so good
The game mechanics did not clearly reflect the fishing theme

Participants had trouble identifying what the game was about.

We addressed this by crafting the game visuals to more closely

relate to fishing.

Not so good
The game mechanics were not as accessible as we thought

Some participants had trouble understanding how to play the game. We focused on making the game mechanics and

reduced the controls to a single tap.

Designing the UX

In parallel to designing the game, we used wireframing to map out the user journey of discovering and playing the game.


We also storyboarded a small cinematic which would play while the app was loading the game. The cinematic features the app's mascot, hi!Buddy.


High-fidelity UI & handoff

Finally, we prepared the high-fidelity screens and animations to kickstart development.


To animate our mascot, we prepared a sprite-sheet which could easily be reskinned for festive seasons:

hi!Buddy_Full Body.png

The results

The game was successfully launched in

Jan 2019, after 3 months of development

In the first 2 weeks of launch, hi!Carnival achieved:

> 50,000

new users

> 450,000

game sessions played

About 3 months after launch, the game was reskinned for

a Lunar New Year campaign and achieved:

> 20% increase

in MAU

> 26% increase

in DAU

> 4 million

game sessions played

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