Mobile Mavens

How will integrated reviews and ratings in iOS games affect indie developers?

How will integrated reviews and ratings in iOS games affect indie developers?

With the next iOS update, Apple is giving developers the ability to get players to review their games and apps directly within the app, without having to leave and go to the App Store.

On top of this, developers will also be able to respond directly to reviews left by players - finally matching what Google Play already offers.

This sounds like a great thing for developers, but will it have much of an effect on how developers get reviews and engage with their communities? We turned to our Indie Mavens to find out.

Specifically, we asked:

Do you think integrated ratings and reviews within your games will make any significant impact on the number of reviews you receive and your ability to interact with your game's community?

 

Travis Ryan Studio Head Dumpling Design

I'm all for changes that allow us (developers) to evoke discussion and talk more directly with our players - although I’m still not sure how I'd respond to this level of critical feedback:

Removing the friction of leaving an app to review is smart on Apple's part. As always the trick is picking the right moment to encourage a review from the player, ensuring they are having a good time before 'asking them kindly'.

Being directly integrated into play also opens up more opportunities to incentivise and reward players for feedback, which of course could be employed by an enterprising so-and-so to skew ratings.

Matthew Annal MD Nitrome

I have wanted to be able to respond to a lot of reviews for so long so this is great news. It is the big thing that Google Play got right in my opinion.

I am not sure it will make any meaningful difference to how we make apps or their performance.
Mat Annal

Being able to have users review and rate within the app is obviously only a good thing too. The one thought I wonder in this however is how much getting people to review your app actually impacts the success of your title?

We at Nitrome have not pushed users for reviews in any of our F2P apps, as we have never seen why a lot of reviews would make people more likely to download it.

Our thoughts have been that if the app caught your eye to get to this point that the fact it was free was already fairly frictionless, and that the number of people who review the app organically already give the game a rating. Does anyone have any examples where it has made a big difference?

In conclusion, these features are great and entirely positive but I am not sure it will make any meaningful difference to how we make apps or their performance.

Pavel Ahafonau Co-founder Happymagenta

The ability to reply to reviews is really great and the ability to leave ratings without leaving the app is even better!

However, I just want to mention that an ability to give a rating to a game without leaving it was already in there for years. A user could do so in the Game Center leaderboard window.

That's what games supporting Game Center could benefit from for years. Was a great advantage in comparison to non-game apps. That's why games have much more "organic" rates with no review text.

So non-game apps will benefit from it much more. Yet it's a great option for games as well.

Leanne Bayley Developer We Heart Dragons

I think this is great news and a real positive step for the App Store.

This will certainly help developers gain more reviews for their games and apps, but the significant news here is the ability to directly respond to reviews!

Long have we wanted to be able to communicate with players after the issues they raise in their 1 star reviews have been resolved, especially when it is a simple bug fix.

Communication is key in building a community so this is the best news.
Leanne Bayley

Communication is key in building a community so this is the best news. I wonder if we will be able to go back and reply to old reviews – there's one Super Glyph Quest has that we would like to address...

Mobile is NOT A PLACE FOR GAMES (1 STAR)
by Mr. SpencerG - Nov 3, 2014
"Mobile devices are not a place for games, I'd suggest the Nintendo 3ds or playstation vita if you want to have any hope of making money off this Mobile devices being used to play games on is silly, that's what the vita and 3ds are DESIGNED for. People don't pay for apps they just want a free time waster. In fact 99% of apps make no money at all, mobile developers need to head on over to real game devices which I hope you do because your game deserves the money ( you get one star as to encourage you to dump mobile for real gaming devices ) Silly mobile game crap needs to end."

Pierre-Luc Vettier CEO Zero Games Studios

Obviously yes! Definitely yes!

Keeping players in a game is always a good thing, and I'm sure some developers will find a very smart way to integrate this into their games. That will be a big improvement for many devs for sure!

Aaron Fothergill Co-founder Strange Flavour

I think all iOS developers have been asking Apple for the ability to respond in some way to user reviews (the RADAR I submitted suggested we be allowed to reply to reviews via iTunes Connect and Apple pass the message on to the user so the user's details aren't exposed to developers). This will probably clear several thousand bugs off Apple's RADAR bug database!

The fact that it's bundled with an official way to politely ask for reviews is a bonus I think. While asking users for reviews is seen as a necessity for a successful app, it's seen as very pushy and there's been a lot of aggro from the ‘entitled’ users (i.e. the ones who shout in a lot of user forums about how all games should be free, never have advertising or IAP, and should never ever ever ask you to review them).

Being British, I start at a disadvantage here in not wanting to be forward and ask a player if they, you know, actually like my game. So this gives me a polite way to do that, which is nice.

The difficulty though for small developers is how to respond to reviews you can't read.
Aaron Fothergill

Being able to directly respond to those reviews is great news and I'm looking forward to being able to respond to my players.

Unfortunately, it doesn't deal with the downright stupid or malicious reviews (the 1 star "I hate racing games" after downloading a free racing game kind of stuff, or ones where a not-so ethical competitor decides to go on a 1 star review spree of the competition).

I see those as a challenge though, so when I'm happily corresponding with anyone who writes a review that asks for help, reports bugs, or actually likes the game (or even dislikes it constructively), I'm tempted to go to town on the stupid ones and (politely, I am British you know) constructively use them for my own entertainment and PR value.

The difficulty though for small developers is how to respond to reviews you can't read, or even after Google translating them you've got no way of being able to respond to accurately in the correct language.

It's probably okay for a big publisher with a multi-lingual media community team, but for a single dev who might only know a couple of languages at best, this could be a nightmare.

Despite being British, I absolutely refuse to reply to reviews in languages I don’t know by typing them ALL IN CAPS SO THEY UNDERSTAND.

I've got a small prediction too. Give it a year and the App Review guidelines will change so that you can only ask for reviews using this API (or the direct link to your App Store page as suggested in the docs).

I'm personally in favour of this as it does seem to be a really user friendly way of doing it, but it could mess with a lot of games.

Nathan Fouts Founder Mommy's Best Games

Yes, reviewing games within the game is a great thing. I think particularly for lower trafficked games, it's very good to have smoother review methods.

On the Amazon TV app stores, you can (still?) only review things from a computer on the Amazon site!

If you happen to get a bad review early, good luck, as it looks bad to potential players and can discourage others from trying - even for a free game.

Emoji Scream from Mommy's Best Games

As far as review gems go, we recently released Emoji Scream, a shoot'em up in which you scream to shoot.

We did have a warning about taking a break if you're light-headed but...

"The game was awesome that I almost passed out. I decided not to take a break and almost passed out. Almost, I did pass out. For like 10 minutes. But I'm fine now."

Kamina Vincent Producer Mountains

There wasn't much point to the app store reviews before as we couldn't respond.
Kamina Vincent

Reducing friction to get people reviewing is pretty great in my mind. But… once you leave a review and never get notified again, does this stand even if the app is updated? I'm not sure how many people will go to the app store to change their review, especially if they only reviewed because it was in-game.

We haven't released our first game yet so this is all on previous experience. As someone who responded to all the other reviews that I could, I’m really excited about the ability to respond to reviews.

It was a great way of connecting with our players and showing them we cared as well as letting them know we'd fixed issues! Other than trawling for reviews showing bug issues, there wasn't much point to the app store reviews before as we couldn't respond.

Sebastian Lindén CEO & Creative Director Qaos Games

I think it's great!

Although this would give smaller studios an ability to get more feedback/ratings, bigger studios will get even more. We've had this feature for a while on Google, and I didn't see any big difference in how developers approached reviews.

If Apple succeed with making it more intuitive than Google, maybe we will see a bigger difference in how the reviews could be useful to improve games.

For bug fixing I think it will be useful. But for deeper feedback, I don't know.

Tags:
Deputy Editor

Ric has written for PocketGamer.biz for as long as he can remember, and is now Deputy Editor. He likes trains.

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