Since there has been some discussions lately about bad reviews and the people giving them I felt the need to investigate this a bit.
Facing bad reviews
As a game developer we have to face bad reviews, mostly because we’re all different people that like and love different things. But as it is we often tend to focus on that one star rating, stating that the game was “fun but lacked gamepad support”, or “I needed a swivel chair and I don’t have one”, instead of focusing on the 4-5 star reviews mentioning how awesome the game was.
Some statistics - Minecraft VR
Now to the “fun” part. In the GearVR store there’s 100+ games and thousands of reviews which in turn contains a whole lot of information on what lies behind the numerical score a game has been given. Manually analysing all reviews in the store would take a lot of time, but a lot of information (and fun) can be had by focusing the effort on one game and the infamous “one star review”.
The game I chose was Minecraft VR, it had a lot of 5 and 4 star reviews (as I think it should), but more importantly it had 101 written 1 star reviews. After a quick glance I noticed that I could categorise them into different “problem” areas, and so I did.
Only 5% real reviews?
Let’s go through the different categories and what they mean. One category with a lot of comments (31.7%) is what I call controller related issues. It seems that a lot of people are frustrated that they didn’t see or that there wasn’t any info stating that you needed a gamepad. Another controller related issue was people walking in circles. The third most common issue was about the game being displayed in a Netflix like environment - in other words the people that for some reason didn’t manage to hit the x button (Non 3D, 12.9%) to enter the immersive mode. In a way this is also a controller issue but I felt that since there were quite a lot of them and they are a little “special” they got there own category. The most common problem (39.6%) concerned the game crashing or not being able to install it which is actually quite worrying. Then there’s 3% trolls, 4% motion sick, 5% “don’t like.. I hate this game” and also 4% that I couldn’t figure out what the hell they were talking about, even with google translate. ;-)
So, when it all comes down to it only 5% of the 101 one star reviews actually had an opinion on the actual game, and that’s quite concerning too.
The importance of (relevant) feedback
I get that it’s frustrating when the game crashes, when you’re not able to install or when you missed to read the preconditions. That last one happens to me all the time, that’s just me in a nut schell. But is the review section in the store the right place to give such feedback? You won’t get an answer since there’s no possibility to reply. I’m quite sure that If you used another forum to state this, for example by contacting the company/people who developed the game, did a post on reddit or reached out on twitter you’d probably get a better response - since every developers biggest nightmare is that the game/app wouldn’t work.
What do I need to tell the world?
When reviewing a game in the future I’ll be more careful on how I rate the game or experience and how I choose to express myself when writing a public review. It’s not because I think bad games deserves better ratings it’s because I want to be sure that the score is based on the gameplay and not my own frustrations.
Another thing I think is important when reviewing a game or experience is to rate it with price and comfort mode in mind. For example I get really easy motion sick so if I buy a game that has the comfort mode “comfortable for some or few” I personally don’t need to tell the world that I got motion sick of it and give it a 1 star score. Frankly because the game is not made for me and I should have known that from the beginning. Also it might not be quite fair to compare a free game to a game or experience that has the $9.99 price tag, with higher price comes higher expectations.
Shameless plug - Play, rate and review our game!
You’ll find our game Photon Strike in GearVR store, feel free to play and to rate it. We made it for you and it’s comfortable for most - and with a $1.99 price you can’t really go wrong. And of course it’s awesome! ;-)