One thing that a lot of companies don’t get is the importance of frictionless feedback.
All companies perpetuate the myth that they want to hear from customers. They pretend to value their feedback, and want to hear from them, regardless whether or not the feedback is good or bad. In very few cases is this really true. I’m not referring to actually abusive or threatening feedback, which obviously just gets binned.
Negative, but non-abusive feedback is good stuff to have, and so is positive feedback obviously. Any developer who has sat down and watched a ‘lets-play’ video of their game, or better still, observed strangers playing their game for the first time in real-life, can tell you that NO amount of brainstorming, agonizing or debating over design features is as good as watching people play…
Sometimes, people think that the only feedback worth having is the long and analytical email or forum post dissecting the games design and deliberating it’s strengths and weakeness, alongside constructuive suggestions as to how to improve things. Obviously this feedback is awesome, and much appreciated but it is not the only form worth having, because it’s delivery method implies some self-selection on the part of the player.
In other words, only a certain subset of hardcore, analytical thoughtful and time-rich gamers will ever commit their thoughts to keyboard in such an effective and clear manner.
What you really need to capture is the gamers who can’t be bothered to spend more than 10 seconds giving you feedback on your game, but nevertheless are buyers/potential buyers and have a viewpoint. they are gamings 99% :D
To do this, you need to reduce any ‘friction’ involved in that process. Is it easy to get feedback from your customers. Here is how I try to make it easy.
1) you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I will read it. I acknowledge almost all feedback, and I read all of it. Even if it’s a one-line email “The mechs are overpowered”, it still gets filed away and noted.
2) You can post on my forums at www.positech.co.uk. This is probably my best source of feedback.
3) You can comment on blog posts here
4) You can direct-message or just quote @cliffski on twitter. I read all that too.
5) You can comment on the facebook page for the game.
Ideally, I’d make it even easier, but true anonymous frictionless feedback is just open to spam. I experimented with anonymous guest posting on forums, but it’s a spam headache unfortunately. I guess the best thing to do is just make it really clear that feedback is welcome, good or bad and you can email me your thoughts on the game, and they will get read. Indies are lucky because people actually believe us when we say you can email the lead designer, rather than a customer service person.
I always wish when I read a comment on my games on some foum, that the person typing it knew that they could just copy and paste that opinion and throw it at me by email, and it would have 100x the effect on getting the game changed and refined than a post on a foumr (although such posts are to be encouraged too, anything that gets people discussing your game is clearly a good thing)
Any game developer hiding their email address behind a captcha or sign-up account is just throwing away a free source of honest feedback. Don’t do it. get better spam filters. It can be done, how else can I constantly type email@example.com on my blog and get away with it? :D