Mix Master Malstrom,
I’ve been thinking a lot about just how obsessed with Metacritic the game industry is. Devs are obsessed with review scores to inflate their egos, and for whatever reason publishers are equally obsessed with the scores and this also put pressure on the developers. The industry acts like the Metacritic average is some absolute, “true” value of a video game.
Of course it’s utterly ridiculous to pin this kind of faith on the mathematical average of OPINIONS, especially when those opinions only represent a small subset of hardcore gamers, which in turn are only a small subset of potential customers. Whose evaluation should be trusted more: the person who plays video games all day because he is paid to play them (or worse, paid to say nice things about them) and that’s the only thing he does, or the person who has a wide variety of interests and yet forks over his hard-earned money to play a game? Obviously the latter is a stronger vote.
Here’s my question: If you were a game developer (without the focus testing of say, a Nintendo or Microsoft), how would you go about getting customer feedback? There must be *some* nuggets of valuable feedback from reviewers, but how to sort it out? Better yet, how do you get feedback from the “lowly” casual consumer who doesn’t hang out on the gaming message forum all day? Are there some established business practices that are used in other fields, like the Starbucks or even the Dunder-Mifflins, that could be applied to the game industry?
Developers aren’t obsessed with metacritic reviews because of their egos. They are obsessed with metacritic reviews because they get a bonus if the metacritic is above a certain number. And for that, the fault isn’t with the developers but with the company runner.
For feedback, I would look at the BEST PLAYERS in the game and the WORST PLAYERS in the game. The reason why you look at feedback from the best players in the game is because they are ahead of the other players. They learned the tricks and all faster than the other players. The other players will soon eventually catch up to the best players. The only difference between the best player and the normal player is that the best player is a little further in the future. Addressing the best player concerns now would be addressing the future concerns of the majority of the players.
Looking at the experience of the worst player (the noobs) is also extremely important. Are they having a good experience with the game? Is the game fun to them?
Filtering feedback is probably the most important skill to have. It is most important to differentiate between what a gamers SAYS and how a gamer BEHAVES. Most gamers will say things toward their own self-interest (“Buff my class. Nerf all classes that I don’t play”). When I look at Diablo 3 feedback, I am noting that the complainers are protesting too much. This indicates they are still in love with the game but are having their egos hurt in some way. Talk and behavior must be differentiated.
This also applies to women as well.