Draw Something: Why Can’t You Purchase Colors in the Shop?

Note: since this article was originally published, Draw Something was updated to actually let you purchase colors from the shop. I’m sure it was a direct result of this article =)

Draw Something (iTunes link) is the new hotness for mobile phones.  If you aren’t familiar, it’s basically turn-based Pictionary.  Player 1 draws something, player 2 sees the drawing (it’s animated so you can watch the person draw the picture, which is pretty cool) and guesses the word.  Pretty straightforward stuff.

As is the case so often for mobile apps these days, it’s a freemium app that tries to get you to purchase things with “coins”, the in-game currency.  What can you purchase with coins?  Two things.  You can get bombs that help you either get a new set of words to draw, or more colors to add to your palette.

UX-wise, there’s not a whole lot going on in Draw Something, so it’s pretty solid.  I do get a little frustrated when drawing, because it always seems to default to a bigger size of brush than I want, though that’s not a major issue.

There’s just one thing that makes me scratch my head.  On the main page, there’s a big “shop” button that invites you to spend your hard-earned coins.  When opening the shop, you can buy more bombs, and you can spend real money to get more coins.  But you can’t buy the additional colors from the shop – those you can only get when you are making a drawing.

This is the page in Draw Something where you, well, draw something. Notice that little plus to the right of the color swatches? That’s where you get more colors.

Doesn’t that seem a little weird?  Wouldn’t it seem like the shop is an ideal place to spend your coins on buying colors?  If you want to upgrade your colors and you aren’t currently drawing, you’d have to start a new game and cancel it to see what your options are.  That’s not real convenient.

At the same time, when are you most likely to realize that you need a different color?  When drawing, right?  And probably when you’re in the heat of drawing a spaceship and you realize you don’t have quite the right shade of green, it’s more likely that you’ll make an impulse decision to pick up a pack of colors for a mere 249 coins.

So, I have an idea of why the game put the colors where they did.  Putting information where people will need it is something that comes up frequently at That Game’s UX.  But at the same time, I’ve got an expectation that I can buy anything that I want to buy from the shop, so giving me another avenue to potentially spend my coins seems like a good idea for both the developers and the users.  Please, just let me shop!

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