• Natalie Markovits

The ultimate battle royale player feedback analysis

Battle Royale is one of the most popular gaming genres, as it attracts millions of players all over the world. But what are some of the trends and attractions in this genre? What are the challenges four of the leading games in this genre face?

Hello everyone and welcome to Affogata’s podcast: Let’s talk customer feedback.

We had the pleasure to be doing a special episode with two very special guests. We hosted Chris Zerathe, a veteran gaming expert, and Anaelle Nelken, Affogata’s Account Executive who created just recently an in-depth professional Battle Royale analysis report.


The report discussed in this podcast is one of the services we offer to our customers at Affogata, showing what players think and talk about the games that they play.

For this specific one, Affogata tracked and analyzed the four leading and most popular video games of this genre, covering a one-month period worth of countless player conversations about them from all over the open web. The games are: Fortnite, Apex Legends, PUB-G and Call of Duty: Mobile.


Audio



Transcript

Host from Affogata:


Our first question to you has to deal with the removal of a building in Fortnite which changed the entire game completely. Our player feedback analysis shows that this was the topic with the highest engagements out of them all. There were those who praised Fortnite for this move, indicating that it created a more balanced experience. Criticizers, on the other hand, mentioned that Fortnite is trying too hard to resemble its competitors. What is your take on this?


Chris, let’s start with you.


It’s a very tough decision for Fortnite especially since the building has always been a source of creativity for some players that excelled at building crazy towers or other complex structures that would create memorable moments that helped Fortnite be different. However, they probably did it because they had data that showed not everyone used this feature.

Anaelle, what’s your take here?


It was a really interesting event to investigate, the most interesting element of this event for me was the players who said they would stop playing the game because this specific feature was removed and now the game is just a worse version of its competitors. This is something I’ve never seen before.


Host from Affogata:


Players react differently on each online platform, however, the issue that transcended all platforms is that it appears that all four games suffered from the same server connection issue. Our report has concluded that the first game to offer a smooth and stable experience would be the one to draw the most players from competing games.


Anaelle, what do you think about this?

Connection and technical issues are common topics of negative sentiment across all of the games I’ve analyzed over the past year. It doesn’t matter how good the game is if the players can’t play it, so in my opinion stability and integrity are some of the major emphasis points players will use while evaluating a game (see cyberpunk 77 for example).

And Chris, how come these games are so popular and yet players still report tech issues?

From my experience, no games are exempt from server issues and it’s not always on the game side. There are three things to consider.


First the network: Shooters like Fortnite require extremely fast response times on the other hand not everyone enjoys fast networks.


Second, the technical choices made: This is where companies differ the most. Are you making your game have a game that requires “server-side” verification or Peer 2 Peer? If you are server-side, great you’ll prevent a lot of cheating but you’ll need to invest heavily in your servers and make sure you have the best tools at hand to help when your servers are starting to be overloaded. On that hand, IT services very often get help from Social Media listening as a complementary measure to their technical tools. Because there are always limitations and the tools can’t always tell you if the experience is degraded.


The third is the user's activity or lack of activity The fewer users you have the more complex it is going to be for you to pair people that have low ping. And on the other hand, you can also have people that create DDoS attacks, for example, an angry mob of players not happy with a decision could decide to overload servers with connection requests. Host from Affogata:


For our third question, we have to discuss the unfortunate issue of hackers and cheaters involved in these very successful games. It really takes away from the enjoyment of the game when a player finds out that some of his co-players or competing players are not being very fair. Not to mention some of the language used trying to scare your competing players. And we learn about all that from tracking the players’ conversations.


Chris, is there any actions studios take to minimize this problem?


Multiplayer games have to rely on their servers to minimize cheating and not let any critical systems run through Peer2Peer. For example, the server needs to be able to validate reaction speed, bullet physics, players physics, etc otherwise magic bullets that kill people through walls appear…

After that, it’s about communication and action. Studios should have a 0 tolerance policy that needs to be communicated every time people are being caught and banned from the game. At the same time, while you need to communicate the results of your actions, you should not disclose too much because it’s a game of tag with Pirates that are always trying to find a gap in your security or trying to understand if you the developer caught on their hack. Finally, use your community they will help you flag cheats and in some great cases they might also help you discover vulnerabilities


And Anaelle, do players also notice improvements on this matter, or does the problem still exists all over the gaming world? Short answer - no, long answer - In my opinion people will always prefer to complain and rarely take the time to write a positive mention, especially if it’s related to an issue they’ve complained about in the past since they probably feel entitled, as a paying customer, to have this issue be resolved by the developer and I doubt they’ll feel the need to express positive feedback. At the end of the day, it’s less a question of how common this issue is and more about how the community will choose to react.


Host from Affogata:


In-game purchases are always on the table when it comes to high-level video games. On one hand, studios view it as a key revenue channel for them. On the other hand, players are criticizing studios for having to shell out more and more dollars to continue playing and advancing.


Anaelle, how did you find the player position here in your analysis? Did they accept it as part of the game, like an industry standard of sorts, or did it make them quit more?


As a whole players will accept microtransactions as a necessary evil when the game is free to play, but there are a few different cases where the community will react harshly - when the game is full price and still has microtransactions, or when the game is an obvious pay to win and progress becomes impossible without purchasing items. In most cases, especially with the games, we’re discussing here where a lot of these purchasable items are more cosmetic than functional, I feel like they’ve been accepted as part of the industry.


And Chris, do you think that studios have found the exact balance between making money to not driving away many players with in-game purchases, or is it still an ongoing “trial-and-error” situation?


I think as long as there are people paying for F2P games the industry will continue to integrate in-game purchases and try out as many ways to do it as possible despite bad press (a good example is Diablo Immortal launched last week). Only if there is not enough money generated will they stop the game or change the way they do things.


And for our final question: I would like both of you to give me one key insight that you take from Affogata’s analysis, that represents either a high or low in terms of what gaming studios must pay attention to, as the battle for players continues with such intensity.


Chris, let’s start with you.


From the analysis, I must say I am very impressed with Fortnite. Outside of a specific crisis games should be worried if they have 10% of players complaining about their servers. Fortnite at 5% with the most active player base out there is especially solid!

In regards to cheating 5% is not a good figure to be at you want that number way down to 2% max. For paying and pricing, all the battle royale games are doing good, it’s a topic that will always be present for F2P games but anything below 5% is really good and shows most players are ok with the system in place. I would start worrying when you go above 10%.


And Anaelle, what is your one key take from the report that studios must pay attention to?


In my opinion, it all comes down to technical issues and stability - your players have to be able to access the content that you’re creating for them, and since it accounts for the biggest percentage of negative reviews, this is an issue that clearly and immediately impacts the community.


Host from Affogata:


As we can see, the Battle Royale genre is massively popular and brings in lots of revenues to its studios, but also presents several issues and challenges which these studios still have to deal with. And we learn all that from analyzing player feedback in real-time.


Before we end this podcast, I would like to thank again Anaelle and Chris for their insights, it has been great!


Thanks all for listening and don’t forget to visit us at www.Affogata.com


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