The most significant addition in Apple's iOS 10.3 update is the ability for players to provide reviews and ratings in-app, rather than having to go to the App Store.
Previously, the system was an unappealing and cumbersome one for mobile gamers, which developers would often have to offset with offers of incentives to get them sharing feedback.
But how welcome a move is this, and just how important are user reviews anyway?
To find out, we asked our Mobile Mavens:
- Will the introduction of integrated ratings and reviews significantly increase the number of players offering feedback?
- Is this important to mobile game developers?
Yes, it will increase the number of players giving feedback. Currently, it's cumbersome enough that only fans and haters really bother with it. I know I certainly don't care to rate most the games I'm playing myself.
It's hard to say how much of an impact it will have on the actual business.
I think it's likely to be a good thing, perhaps improving discoverability of cool new games - at least if the App Store uses the reviews more heavily in selecting what to show on the store front page.
In the end, we need this to drive installs of interesting new experiences. If it doesn't, it is irrelevant.
Let's face it, the review process has been a monumental pain since it was introduced. Forcing the user to leave the app eliminates at least 99% of the potential reviews.
This is a step in the right direction, but doesn't really go far enough. Developers still can't address the comments or let the reviewer know something has been changed, so it's still the extremes of love/hate which predominate.
Fixing the review process could really help to shake up the discoverability issue and allow great games and apps to rise up the charts without requiring a sizeable marketing campaign.
The share of positive reviews will probably increase.
For any decent game, most one to two star ratings are either from people on their way out (technical issues / rage quit / expected something else) or unrelated to quality (trolling / installed while drunk / reminds of ex, etc.).
We're always happy to receive reviews because larger volume means quicker feedback/alerts.Vladimir Funtikov
Reducing friction has little impact on these ratings. We've seen a very simple "rate us" reminder bump the review score by 0.2 or more, so I would expect an in-game prompt to provide a boost as well.
As for the impact it has, I once tried to find correlation between review scores and conversion rates on Google Play.
There was some evidence in the extreme cases, but for games with scores in the normal 4.3-4.5 range, other factors were much stronger.
That said, we're always happy to receive reviews because larger volume means quicker feedback/alerts. It's also a morale boost for the teams if they have a habit of checking the store page.
Combined with the ability to respond to comments, we'll have another channel for communicating with the players, which is always a good thing.
Good consumer experience is all about eliminating friction, and I'm shocked that it has taken this long to deploy in-app reviews and ratings.
This will reduce friction and increase the number of reviews, as others have noted.
The bigger news about reviews is this:
"Apple has announced that it will soon let developers reply to reviews on the iPhone, iPad and Mac App Stores. As part of the iOS 10.3 release notes, the company says that by the time iOS 10.3 is available to customers, developers will be able to respond to customer reviews on the App Store."
I think this is long overdue and is an excellent move by Apple.
John is co-founder of PR and marketing company Big Ideas Machine. Also an all-round nice guy...
I agree that this may encourage more users to leave reviews. And it's a positive step to allow publishers to respond to comments.
More people leaving comments doesn't mean there will be an increase in their quality and usefulness.John Ozimek
But I wait to see what actual effect this all may have. Encouraging more people to rate and leave comments doesn't automatically mean there will be an increase in the quality and usefulness of comments.
And as we all know, consumers can be extremely fickle - what if this now means that anyone that tries a game for two minutes can now leave negative comments despite the fact they've not actually played it properly?
Feedback is always good, as long as its within context. So I think we need to see if this actually changes anything.
After all, it doesn't change the basic app store signal of "four stars and over good, three stars and under don't bother". Seems to me this just makes the ratings process easier, but it remains shallow, and doesn't link to discovery of content.
Julia joined Nevosoft as a public relations manager in 2009 and took a fresh look on interacting with the casual games audience. She has a master’s degree in linguistics and more than three years of experience in the entertainment industry, working as a morning show hostess and as the program director at a radio station. Her current role at Nevosoft sees her responsible for the company’s B2B connections and for searching out new ways of growing the business.
I think it's a wonderful move and I can't wait until it happens for real. It's very important for both sides: customers want to be heard and developers need a right to reply.
We launched a new app for players recently called Digital Star and on Google Play there are so many reviews!
It's nice to hear from real people. Not all of the reviews are positive, but then again, people get a chance to complain and get help. We reply to all of them, about 30% email us after that and we help them solve an issue.
They go back to the store feeling happy and change the rating. Once the person emailed to us: "I have always dreamt to get a message from game developers, you made it happen, thank you!"
It's that simple. On the App Store, on the other hand, the situation is much worse.
People give you a low rating and you don't even have a chance to explain them how to fix a problem. I'm looking forward to Apple introducing new opportunity for a better communication with players.
Oscar Clark has been a pioneer in online, mobile, and console social games services since 1998. He is also author of the book, Games As A Service – How Free To Play Design Can Make Better Games.
Not much more to add, but removing the friction for reviews is really valuable.
We need to be in a constant dialogue with our audience.Oscar Clark
I am also with William that the ability for developers to reply to players who leave a review will be at least as significant again.
A lot of smart developers already leave a 'Feedback@gamename.com' email in their game to encourage players to tell them there are problems before giving the game a one star rating, but this should make that work even better.
It's something that seems to happen on Google Play already, of course.
The bottom line, in my mind, is that games are services and as such we need to be in a constant dialogue with our audience using data, as well as direct player feedback to ensure we create the best entertainment experience we can.