Game Design, Programming and running a one-man games business…

Frictionless Feedback

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, 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 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 on my blog and get away with it? :D

11 thoughts on Frictionless Feedback

  1. AFAIK it’s the second post showing up just as clipped intro in the feed reader. Good for the “returning visitors” stats graph, bad for the readers.

    Please switch back.

  2. …Not good for those of us behind a firewall that blocks game sites, but not RSS readers, who can’t click through for ‘more’.

  3. Another good type of frictionless feedback is putting all kinds of (anonymous) analytics into your game which are then sent back to you. This can give you information about what people use and don’t use in the game, what causes payers to die most often etc. etc. best of all; the player doesn’t have to take any action for you to get the information.

  4. Cliff, have you considered having some sort of negative feedback button, unobtrusively placed into your UI? Something like a thumbs down icon or similar.

    My reasoning is thus – To truly get to the heart of why your game isn’t perfect, it’s best to concentrate on the areas where your game is lacking the most. If you provided automated, contextual reporting in the background (ie, invisible to the user) that was able to tell you, to some degree, what the player was doing when he hit the “this is just not fun or not working how it should” button, you could very quickly identify the parts of your game that you need to expend the most amount of time on improving.

    Ie, “I thought the ship design section what laid out beautifully and was as intuitive as possible, but now I see 40% of my negative feedback comes from players on that screen. Maybe I need to revisit it…”

    Just a though. :)

  5. I changed it back. Not sure if it takes a while to rebuild the feed maybe?

  6. That is a very clever idea Tim! Might be a bit hard to implement though? But it seems like a great idea in theory at least.

  7. I have to agree with the others: The switch to snippet-only RSS is very disappointing. It’s a terrible experience for readers. Also, it’s usually used as a gimmick for getting more ad views/clicks. But your only ads are for your own games. I’d venture to guess that most RSS readers are like me: they already own most/all of your games. Forcing a visit to your site won’t change that.

  8. I’d agree with the others who mention providing in-game feedback mechanisms. Amazon style ratings for things like levels are obvious and users generally get the principle now. If you’ve git an updater mechanism then you could get fancy with offering “survey” versions that ask specifics, but simply putting a straight textbox feedback form that posts to your website will mean you hear much more of your user’s opinions. People who would never dream of looking for your forum/blog/email will tap in a quick “Can we get feature X?” or “It’s running slow.”

  9. thats a really cool idea, having a rating built in just for the default campaign levels. I should put that in post-release….
    All the best ideas always show up once the games done :D

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