Game design question. Games with no way to exit the game??

My question is not specific to XNA, or Monogame. Just a general game design question.

I have seen a few games on Android, and Apple phones where their is no menu option to exit the game. This is rather frustrating, and creates little bit of a claustrophobic panic in regard to “How do I get my phone back”? I say this with a bit of humor, but seriously I have installed a few games where you cannot exit the game, and totally have to just reboot your phone to exit the game. Once I get my phone back, I then proceed to delete the game, or to intentionally remember never to run it again. I hate the feeling of being held hostage by an app.

Has anyone else experienced this before?in Are their any type of UI design principle best practices that support providing the user with an option to exit the game?

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You should always give the user the option to exit. Doing otherwise is just bad design.


Two thoughts about exiting games. First is it is bad user experience to not have an intuitive way to exit a game. It frustrates the player and they will likely abandon the game. The second is to ask if the player really wants to quit. Being unceremoniously thrown out can be as negative as not being able to get out.


Agreed. Nothing like hitting the wrong key and you’re out… That will piss people off fast :slight_smile:

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Thanks for the valuable input. I have noticed with some games, if the phones console button is pressed, the game is then minimized and the user is presented with the phones display console. I like that approach as well.

I’m gonna throw some feedback out on the other side of the coin here, because I think there’s an alternative perspective to be had.

My background in gaming is almost strictly on PC. I’ve had consoles over the years, and more recently phones, that I play a few games on, but I almost exclusively game on PC. To that end, the option to exit the game is something that’s ingrained in me. During the development/release process of my mobile game, CodeLogic, I discovered that there’s a bit of a perspective shift that occurs on mobile… and indeed, between different mobile platforms.

So first off, games on mobile (and console, for that matter), aren’t actually expected to have an exit game option. In the case of consoles, they run until the user turns them off in some way… for classic consoles, this was just a power off. For modern consoles this is a task switch. For mobile, applications (not just games) are really expected to just be there and the operating system handles task switching. When you’re done with the game, just hit the home button (or whatever) and it will suspend. The expectation is that it will resume (in some form or another) when the user goes back to it.

There’s a bunch of different reasons for this but at the end of the day, apparently it comes down to battery usage. I did some googling a while back, but apparently from the mobile OS perspective, it’s more efficient to suspend a task than it is to entirely load it again later. Some folks jive with this, some don’t. My phone generally has only 4-5 “open” apps at any given time, but my girlfriend’s has like 40+. I’m used to PC where I have this obsessive need to manage my resources, she doesn’t give a crap and just does whatever. Both of us have an equally fine usage experience.

Something else to note here… there’s also a different expectation on user base. I’m primarily an Apple user. I don’t really care but it just so happens that I ended up with an Apple device when I first started using a smart phone and, well, here we are. So when I built CodeLogic, I did so from the Apple perspective of app management (ie, fully embrace task switch, don’t expect users to want to kill the app). Of course, Apple is dumb if you’re a small independent dev with no cash flow, so developing and releasing on iPhone was out of the realm of possibility. Instead, because all the tools are free, I developed using Android as my primary target and had a group of friends be my testers.

From a few of them, one of the strong pieces of feedback is that they wanted the back button to do something and, ultimately, they wanted the back button to allow the app to kill the app from the main menu. Easily 90% of my test group didn’t care, but 10% felt pretty strongly. Ultimately I did hook this up because everybody liked the back button functionality and, once I had that, hooking up a task kill was trivial.

Anyway, the moral of this long-winded story? I don’t think it’s actually bad in any way for a game to not have a way to exit, depending on the target platform. If you’re targeting PC, yea, you need a way to exit. If you’re targeting mobile or console, it actually doesn’t really make sense to do so… a very small fraction of your user base is even going to look for that functionality, let alone care. People will just task switch away and forget about it until they want to play again. This is apparently the new normal that only those of us with PC gaming backgrounds find weird.

Anyway, hopefully that provided some additional perspective! Best of luck :slight_smile:


But… But there is always a Home button on mobile. You don’t need an explicit exit button there.


Not that much into mobile development, but I believe in for example Android the standard way is to just follow the activity life cycle and correctly handle all the events. You rarely see any app with an exit button, as the OS will terminate it, but letting it do final actions in onDestroy().


Thanks all for the input everyone. And thanks for your long thoughtful response, Trinith. I like mobile games where I can press the physical system button, and user control is passed back to the main OS interface. A perfect example of this is Angry Birds on my IPod touch. Or the game WordScapes. That is so nice because no exit button is pressed, the game just goes away.

However recently on my android phone, I downloaded a game, and I think the word “App Prison” best describes the ability to exit the game. Honestly, you can’t exit the game unless you power down and power back up your android phone. And that means several minutes of your time. I also noticed someone else complaining about the same thing in one of the reviews for the game in question.

I’ve only run into one desktop game that went full screen and forced me to tab out.

Not as bad as a game that goes full screen and refuses to let you tab out on crashing or softlocking… or access control panel from ctrl+alt+delete, forcing you to physically turn off your computer to exit the program. I’ve dealt with that before. I think Skyrim did that.

On mobile it feels like it’s pointless to have an exit button. And just a waste of space. Like the “close” buttons on some desktop forms that have an X button right there at the top.

Peak PC game “exit design” is being able to mash the Xbox B or escape key to eventually close the game if you ask me. On consoles there’s a home button so that would just get in the way there.

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Windows 10 has a novel way to fix this issue, however it requires some setup, but once done, works a charm…

Virtual Desktops… I think that explains it but you could go look for the shortcut to switch between them and have fun :slight_smile:

OKOK here you go…

**Windows Key + Ctrl + Left Arrow or Windows Key + Ctrl + Right Arrow**

Just hit WINKEY+TAB, look up and left, create Desktop 2, rename it to HOLYTSKMGR, and open TSKMGR on that Desktop... [Yes, TSKMGR when you press the WINKEY and type it, gives you: Task Manager]

Ignore my playful tone in this, had a rough month so far, and feeling chirpy…

Have a good one guys!

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Today I learned about virtual desktops in Windows 10… thanks, @MrValentine!! :smiley: :heart:

I used to use a tool called VirtuaWin a loooong time ago to manage this, but it stopped working many years ago. Now I’m out of the habit of using them, but I think I need to relearn!

Anyway, carry on!!


Yes! Same here. No buttons, No exit. Nothing. I just added a game i will now remove. Sometimes i miss my computer. Thank You. Thought it was just a me problem. :wink: