May

7

How to Go From Five Stars to One Star in a Heartbeat

Mark Stephens

Don’t you just love the game feedback and rating system on Android and Apple’s gaming platforms? Like with many such customer rating systems, game app developers can become obsessed trying to appease the masses for those five-star ratings, only to be completely ruined by a few unhappy campers!

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To put it another way, you can have tens of thousands of players playing your game daily, never taking the time to leave feedback or a star rating. If they did they would probably not give a poor rating unless they are idiots who enjoy playing bad games. After all, nobody is making them play and there are so many alternative choices out there.

Unfortunately the loudest voices are always those that have a gripe. Now, sometimes this gripe may be legitimate: gameplay may be clunky, ads intrusive or there may be genuine glitches that need fixing and are usually quickly flagged. But the problems begin when people are either stupid, vindictive or having a really bad hair day!

From MindFeud to BoardRush & Friends

Monkeybin recently re-named and relaunched our popular MindFeud game and it became BoardRush & Friends.

MindFeud had a good following of around 3 million players by the end of 2013. During the transition to BoardRush & Friends we made a few improvements to address some of the feedback and suggestions we’d received, incorporating them into the new version.

For instance, players are now able to design their own boards using the Board Designer – a very popular feature responsible for creating over 150,000 user-designed new boards already; a multitude of built-in new boards (40 in all) were also introduced and these are being added to with every new release. Besides that, ADAMA the bot has already played a million games with a win percentage of around 60%; we also added a handy ‘HINT’ button which can play a recommended move for you (but can be turned off at any time) and coins for in-game purchases, as well as a few fixes to bugs.

So you would think that these improvements, plus the raw numbers, all point to a successful game that would reflect well in comments, feedback and ratings from the many happy players. After all, the rest of the game essentially remained exactly the same, apart from the name. The same colourful graphics, the same rules, the same bot, and all the other cool and popular features remained.

‘Even the monkeys are horrible’

Now we aren’t ones to obsess about feedback, so when a few negatives come along we usually take it on the chin and move on. But when the negatives are not only loud, but unfair and unconstructive, it’s tougher to swallow at first.

Comments of ‘worthless, worthless, worthless’ and ‘crappy crappy crap game’ are not about to make us curl up in a corner and cry, but they do point to a problem. Not necessarily in the game itself, which we have gone to great lengths to improve, but with the state of mind of some of the people who download our game.

It would be easy to jump to the conclusion that they are imbeciles who haven’t taken the time to read the gameplay guidelines and then declare their abhorrence for everything you stand for (‘Even the monkeys are horrible’); or that they leave the feedback just to prove to themselves and others that they can read and write.

But the truth is that most of them are simply complaining that BoardRush & Friends is NOT MindFeud. They appear unable or unwilling to accept the changes that the majority seems to love.

‘Worthless, worthless, worthless’ would be fair feedback if it was from a player that found BoardRush worthless because it is BoardRush. But when it is based on BoardRush not being another game it’s, well… f***ing stupid!

How about ‘Words With Friends deserves 1-star because it isn’t Scrabble’. Does that sound like feedback from a balanced individual?

Some of the feedback is probably boredom-fuelled too. Such people love to try to rock the boat with a few insults…any boat and any insult…while staying safely anonymous in the process. It’s the equivalent of ‘feedback trolling’ almost.

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When you get a one-star rating and a comment ‘Bring back WordFeud’ it’s a bit frustrating considering that’s not even our game. As I’ve said, we don’t mind negative feedback but at least apply it to the right game, please.

And by the way, how can you call Adama horrible? Just look at his cute face.

Feedback: The Edges of Opinion

So you get the point. The feedback and rating system might be useful at times for other potential game players to glance at before they decide to download a game; but, because nobody is forced to leave feedback and it’s an entirely voluntary system, it is always skewed and not necessarily a true reflection of the real enjoyment levels of a game for the majority.

Just as many customers will silently enjoy great meals time and time again at their favourite restaurant and then one in a hundred will have a bad meal and won’t stop complaining, the feedback system tends to cater (forgive the pun) to the extremes of opinion, rather than the majority view: and that can apply to the good as well as the bad.

So we won’t lose any sleep – but just wanted to vent a little!