Dev Talk: Do You Pay Attention to User Reviews? (Part 2)

Hello, and welcome to Dev Talk, the weekly iFanzine feature in which I ask a panel of indie game developers their opinion on a topic or current hot-button issue related to the games industry.

This week I posed the following question(s): “Do you pay much heed to user reviews of your games? And have you received any particularly funny, weird or otherwise memorable ones via the App Store or Google Play?”

Here’s what the devs had to say…

Desmond Wong, The Gentlebros

Oh absolutely. We read reviews all the time as they’re great feedback devices to find out what we did wrong or what we did right. We want to take all this feedback to our next game, and keep making better ones. It’s also really motivating to read positive reviews, but also quite depressing to read negative ones (people can be so mean sometimes!).

The weirdest one was probably someone giving us a one star review because she said her boyfriend was addicted to the game and wasn’t spending enough time with her. Well, we’re sorry girl! 😀

Adrian Moore, Loveshack Entertainment

I love reading reviews of FRAMED and FRAMED 2, especially as most of them seem to be favorable! The first game was once available for free on the App Store in a promotion. This is one of my favorite reviews from that time, from IlikeTurtelZ: “I kinda feel bad for getting this game for free, it definitely deserves credit. Will be buying the next one.” 🙂

Dan Taylor, Thunderbox Entertainment

For sure! We get some great suggestions from user reviews. If someone is passionate enough about one of our games (in either direction), then the least we can do is take their opinion on board. In fact, all feedback points and ideas get entered into our database of concepts for future updates.

We’ve had some great reviews about our games, letting us know how Tsuro’s relaxing gameplay has helped with PTSD, and how Roll For It! has helped autistic kids learn numbers and colors. We have also had some really nasty and unhelpful reviews… but those are par for the course. TOP TIP: if you get a nasty user review, read it with the voice of a friendly cartoon character (I use this one), and it won’t sound quite so menacing.

My favorite review of late was actually the first one we got on Roll For It! It was a really angry one-star review from a nice lady who hated the lame multiplayer. Initially, I was pretty depressed, but I read her review again, checked out her feedback and realized that our online engineer had made a game-breaking code change at the last minute (naughty, naughty, naughty!). It took me an hour or two to track down and fix, then I replied to her review to let her know it was all working. A few hours later, she updated her review with some kind words about our ace customer service and a glowing 5 stars! In the end, what looked like a nasty review was actually a justifiably upset customer alerting us to a critical bug. So yeah… we read them! 😀

Philipp Döschl, FDG Entertainment

Yes and no. We read them, but there are just too many to get a hold of all of them. There are some great ones of course. The classic funny/facepalm store review looks like this: 1-star, “I love this game, please make more levels! <3”. It’s shocking to see how many people think that 1 star is better than 5 stars. This is a surprisingly common review that keeps popping up regularly.

Ivan Zucchelli, Zuki Games

Well, they’re our main source of motivation! Fortunately, we got some very good reviews of our free Android demo, and then for our iOS full version of Golem Rage. I can honestly say that every time I see a new review, my day gets better. When you work for 2 years on a project, and you know it’ll take time to make enough money to continue the adventure, each review is a blessing.

One review I remember, was our first ever. The game was in its early stage of development (alpha/beta), and a guy just randomly commented, “Good feeling, nice gameplay, very fun. Feels a bit like Castle Crashers, good time killer.” I can sum it up from memory, but for us it was the first real feedback we ever got from a stranger on our game. It was, quite frankly, one of the best days of my life.

Ashley Ringrose, SMG Studio

Yes very much so. I don’t think many players realise there’s real people reading them and they can be very rude. I also appreciate when people give detailed reviews vs “it sucks” as we cant isolate the “suckiness” easily.

Thibaud de Souza, Anime 3D SFX

Trying to strike a balance here: I’m especially attentive to reviews that are mostly positive but flag specific issues (say, related to game controls or gameplay elements). Beyond Escape Route British’s unforgettable video review of Antistar is one of my favorites. But on the App Store I’ve had a user asking me to stop making games.

When players get personal they send mail not store reviews. A dad telling me that they connected with their daughter while playing together? I remember that. A tween asking for a sequel “because I miss my friend”? I remember that. When I get a postcard about a game we’ve made, I know we’ve done something right; where there is a world that existed in the player’s imagination, and is an alternative (of what we imagined), that’s definitely more than the game itself. That, is the reason I didn’t stop.

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