Don’t let that feedback go to waste!
With almost 390,000 games available on the Google Play Store, plus over 460,000 on iOS (as of the time of writing), it may not be surprising to find that your game is struggling to stand out. In fact, it’s par for the course in most cases. Even if you have created the game of the year, it won’t matter if new players can’t discover it.
So what can you do about it?
Well, tackling this is a multifaceted challenge that gets into UA, social media marketing, and ASO (actually, way more than that, but let’s keep things simple). While you can learn more about the keys to successful ASO in our other post on the topic, as well as this video and this course, today’s focus is on an underappreciated aspect that you can start working on today: ratings and reviews. Let’s explore the ins and outs with a focus on how to address negative ones, as well as leveraging feedback to build strategies for optimizing your game’s app store performance across Android and iOS.
Every comment, every reaction, and every piece of feedback is a golden nugget that can help you stay deeply connected to the overall player experience. Someone has taken their time to share a reaction to or opinion about your game, directly. It’s a valuable gift.
What makes it even more powerful is the sheer diversity in this feedback. You have access to a range of opinions and experiences, from different countries, backgrounds, tastes, and preferences. This kind of diversity is something that even a dedicated, paid team of playtesters might not be able to replicate.
And yes, even the oft-dreaded negative reviews are an invaluable resource. They can highlight issues that need urgent attention and help guide the strategic direction of game updates over the long run. It could be a bug that was missed, a level that’s too difficult, or a character that needs more depth. Addressing these issues promptly not only improves the game but also shows the players that their feedback is impactful.
One need look no further than the classic Battlefront 2 microtransactions debacle, and the tsunami of backlash which led to a much-improved player experience.
On the other side of the spectrum, positive reviews serve as reinforcements for what you are doing right. They highlight the strengths and unique selling points of your game. Capitalizing on these strengths by doubling down on them can often be the key to turning a good game into a great one.
Beyond this, engaging with players through responses and showing appreciation for their input creates a bond between the studio and the player. It builds a sense of community and belonging, where the players feel they are part of the development journey.
Reviews aren’t just an incredible way to get feedback on your game–they’re also a critical element of overall performance.
Good reviews create a positive feedback loop, boosting your game’s discoverability and enticing new players to join the fun, while negative reviews can tarnish the perception of player expectations and can be the difference between a potential new player hitting that download button or scrolling on to another game.
In fact, 90% of app store users say that a rating is an essential part of evaluating their downloads. But now that we’ve established the importance of reviews, how does customer service play a role in this?
A negative review is a call to action for responsive customer service. A well-crafted and timely response to a negative review can work wonders in transforming a disgruntled player into a lifelong fan.
Engaging with your players on a personal level helps in building trust and fostering that sense of community. When addressing concerns, craft personalized messages that demonstrate understanding and commitment to finding a solution. This shows players that their feedback is valued and taken seriously. This cannot be stressed enough!
If the problem warrants it, consider reaching out to your players through more personal channels like email for more in-depth troubleshooting and personalized support. This proactive approach leaves a lasting impression on players, and they are more likely to update their reviews to reflect their improved experience. This may seem like a major time commitment, and it is, but one that is worthwhile over the long run. Think of it as one of the many important investments you’re making in the overall long-term strength of the game.
Here are some examples from Rodeo Stampede that illustrate how working with frustrated players to solve issues and concerns can really pay off.
In many cases, it’s a loyal player just trying to resolve an issue or a show of dissatisfaction about a recent and unwelcome change to the gaming experience, as opposed to a condemnation of the whole game. Assume this is the case and, instead of becoming defensive, reach out with the genuine intention to help. While it’s not always possible to turn these reviews around, it works more often than you might expect. At Yodo1, we dedicate serious time and energy to responding to our players and working to solve their concerns. For us, it’s a must.
To illustrate the point, look at this negative review from an Among Us player and ask yourself whether this is a deep problem with the game, or merely a plea from a loyal fan to call attention to an issue.
It can be easy to take loyal happy players for granted, but remember that these are the lifeblood of your game over the long run, and longevity depends on doing more of what’s working, not just fixing what isn’t. Show appreciation for your gaming community by responding to them–after all, their support makes your job possible. This simple gesture helps maintain strong relationships with your players and encourages them to continue supporting your game, creating a snowball effect of goodwill that can have a major impact on your game’s success.
Also, as you build out your roadmap, balance fixes with the development of new features and content that fall in line with sentiments you’re seeing among excited players. If you’re seeing a lot of positive reviews about limited-time skins, it may be worth dedicating more resources to that aspect of the game.
Ratings are not just for potential new players to read when choosing a new game: they also are a huge potential boost for potentially getting featured on the Play and App Stores.
Google Play and the Apple App Store consider ratings when deciding which games to feature—a higher rating can lead to your game being selected, which means increased visibility and more downloads. Being featured on the App Store can increase the number of downloads by a median of up to 140% for the duration.
But what, specifically, are the criteria used?
Know these magic numbers for the Google and Apple app stores and aim for them to have the best chance at the featured section:
In certain regions, for example, Google Play requires a minimum rating of 3.8 out of 5,
Major countries with higher user bases require a 4.0 or higher, and
You must maintain these numbers for a certain period of time.
Our team at Yodo1 aims for a game rating of 4.2 and above as a key performance indicator for how healthy the community is and how much they enjoy playing your game. By striving for these magic numbers, you’ll increase your chances of grabbing the app stores’ attention and securing a coveted feature spot.
Sometimes, a unique game feature or update can pique the interest of app store curators. For example, a fresh update to Rodeo Stampede grabbed Google Play’s attention, creating an opportunity for a spotlight placement on the platform. This demonstrates that it’s not just about ratings but also about creating a dynamic and engaging gaming experience that stands out.
It also helps to build a rapport with the app stores. Apple and Google sometimes reach out to Yodo1 proactively to feature our games, and there is often a clear reason or occasion that prompts it.
So work on new releases, create regular, fresh seasonal content, and update in-game features; backed up by solid ratings, this can stack the odds in your favor.
Reviews are a massive part of the gaming industry, especially on mobile. It’s something we see on a daily basis, and hopefully, the tips provided in this article are ones you can start to incorporate into your development cycle.
As a major game publisher with over 1.5 billion players worldwide across our games, we’ve developed a methodology for making the most out of player ratings (even negative ones!), using them as opportunities for growth rather than an ever-present Damocles’ sword of player sentiment.
Changing your perspective to seeing players as insightful playtesters eager to share their experience means gaining a secret weapon that can snowball into runaway successes like our own game Rodeo Stampede, which is still at the top of the charts seven years after its release–thanks in no small part to the optimizations along the way, many made in response to player feedback.
If you are looking for an extra boost to help you achieve that next stage of growth and need a team dedicated to helping you face the challenges and complexities of the mobile gaming industry, look no further than Yodo1.
Our expertise in publishing, user acquisition, monetization, and IP licensing enables us to provide tailored solutions that cater to your unique needs and deliver results while taking work off your plate. Reach out to the team to learn how working together can help your game reach its full potential.